10 August 2012
Mixed Feelings #9: For What
MIXED FEELINGS #9: FOR WHAT
Japanese-method woodblock (moku hanga) with transfer drawing
Image size: 10.25" x 17" (26 x 43 cm)
Paper size: 12.5" x 19" (63.5 x 98 cm)
Paper: Shikoku White
Here's the last print in the "Mixed Feelings" group, and also the last print in the whole Loaded series about money. It was fitting and poignant for me that my last act in making this print was to trace my beloved father's handwriting: to reproduce the word love just as he wrote it in a letter he sent me 35 years ago.
My dad always told me that the way to be successful in my work life was to "work the system." That's what worked for him, and the system supported him well, from the GI Bill to a life of state-level public service that left him with a nice pension for his retirement. But I've always been self-employed or half-employed, too much outside of the system to "work it." And at this point is there even a system left to work?
The topic of this series has put me face to face with the consequences of my own decisions about work -- my decision to stop putting energy into my career as a commercial artist and to devote myself to fine art. The economic consequences of this have been huge for me. Maybe I'll write more about that later, but suffice it to say that I now earn about 15% of what I was able to earn as a commercial artist.
On the other hand, I'm about 90% happier.
I think it's something of an artificial choice, this love or money question. The two aren't necessarily related -- you love what you love whether you're rich or poor. Love is air, and money is water. But there's a surface tension between the two. You can HAVE what you love a lot easier if you're rich than if you're poor. I have the freedom to choose a life where I earn 15% of what I used to earn because I had 20 years of earning so much more. Lynn & I chose to sock that money away, pay down all our debt, and downsize our lives, which allows me to now choose to be a full-time artist.
During the 13 months I've worked on the Loaded series I've doubled down on that commitment to myself. But I've swallowed hard in doing so. Gone are any illusions that I can get rich this way.
Thank you for following the progress of this work.