Something happened today, and, I wavered on here or AC, but ultimately, I'm looking for advice, so, here goes. It's just bugging me, like a splinter I can almost ignore.
I'm an artist. I graduated with a BFA in Studio Art, and I see my art as inseparable from who I am. I also work a call center job, which has nothing to do with my college degree in the slightest. It's fucking good money, though, within walking distance of my place no less, and suits me very fine.
An art gallery/studio center has opened up in town, some people I know, some I don't. Founded by, substitute art teachers, graphic designers, late-twentysomethings much like me. But they're all doing things in the field of art. One of them, a graphic designer, spent some time complaining of having to fly to Texas in the morning to spend a day being fed free food and drinks while getting paid to do it, and then in almost the same breath, asked me what I do.
So I told her.
And she smiled at me.
And said nothing else.
In my experience, that's the sort of response that means something patronizing, or that you've been sorted, or decided on. As though, "Oh, you're one of those.
" Mind you, these are people I've just met and the moment lasted an instant, and, I've been trying hard to give up noticing things like this, but, something in my instincts is saying this is what happened, and, in the company of artistic peers, I have been labelled as second class.
I've come to a point in my life where I've decided I do art for me. Pretty much period. I don't want to try to run a classroom while cash-strapped school districts are slashing art out of the curriculum, and I don't have the drive or the competitive edge to enter graphic design-I'm much too freeform for that. In short, I refuse to place myself in a position where what I love becomes something I hate, or what I love becomes a burden and requirement to financial well-being.
I make good money doing my non-art job and I do very well at it, and I like that this affords me the freedom to do whatever the fuck I want with my art, on my own terms, day in, day out. I take very good care of myself, for being a single guy.
But there's this unwritten elephant in the room that says that if I'm not being an artist on a w-2 form somewhere, I'm doing something wrong, or being selfish, or lazy. That I should have an obligation to having an art job, if I'm going to be an adult artist.
I think that's bullshit, but it's got me riled tonight, in a passive, persistent way that's not letting up. So: Does this sound weird? Any artists feel this or are in my position too? It's not simply 'You can do whatever you want if you're taking care of yourself,' because if it was, I don't think I'd care this much.