Like many people today, I spend most of my day sitting in front of a computer. I’m lucky in that I enjoy it, but even for me, there is only so much of it that I can take. After 5 o’clock, my hands are craving to do something other than to type on a keyboard. So, cooking is what I often do.
Many of us dream of doing only the thing we love. If you are a poet, you might dream of becoming a world-famous poet so you can do nothing but write poems. If you love making ceramics, you might dream of becoming a full-time ceramic artist. Or, if you love the beach, you might fantasize about becoming rich enough to be on the beach all year round. But would it actually make you happy?
I was watching short interviews of artists giving advice to young artists. I came across two artists I’ve worked for, and both of them gave essentially the same advice, or rather warning.
Dan Graham said: “Don’t make art as a career. Because that means you are doing the same kind of boring things you reacted against in the beginning.”
Laurie Anderson said: “Be loose. It’s so easy to get pigeonholed in the art world to do just this thing. There are so many forces that are there to push you in certain directions, and they are traps.”
What compels us to do one thing only is a deceptive force; we think we want it, but we actually don’t. For instance, if we love a particular type of food, sex, or drug, we assume that more would be better. Some people indeed pursue them to extremes with deadly consequences.
If you realistically imagine the life where you are doing only the thing you love, it becomes obvious that you couldn’t sustain it forever and still be happy. Some people, like some autistic people, can, but those are the exceptions; it doesn’t mean you’d be happy.
After all, if you are a poet writing poems all day and year long, where would the inspiration come from? Sooner or later, you’ll be writing poems about poems. It’s no coincidence that this sounds autistic.
Thanks to technologies, producing art has become much simpler. There is no need to specialize in one medium to master it. Art as a career is no longer necessary. That is, we can stop dreaming now.
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