I saw a good artist friend this weekend, one who I can talk to about the foolish idea that art can make us any money to survive on. In the past, we've joked about starting a cult-- her attention to detail and ascetic style, plus my charisma and costume design could really be a brand. Yes, a brand-- isn't that how people get by these days?
There's also an element of how to make art that doesn't kill our bodies. When I was still mostly sewing, I always had to be aware of my right hand/arm and repetitive stress. This friend also has myriad back problems. What to do when what you love is hurting you?
My answer: breed designer hamsters.
Or start a cult- not sure which is faster, but starting a cult probably requires more up-front capital. I would go the cult route, because I don't like cleaning cages and have always been scared of holding animals with tiny teeth. To me, they look like small wood chippers ready to start grinding my fingers down to nubs.
Said friend is going through a major life move: getting a house and trying to make said house not a deathtrap. It's really expensive to make something liveable. So she's finding out what electricians and plumbers charge. It's a lot. Maybe enough that they could be funding several cults on the side. "So we should go to plumbing school?" I asked. Not a bad idea, especially since it's a male-dominated field and maybe a company owned by two women would do great. I'd love to only have women workers in my house!*
Later that day, we talked about time and training versus pay. Cleaning toilets came up-- a tricky topic. Toilets need to get cleaned, but it would be hard to find someone who LOVED cleaning toilets. One day, maybe we just won't need to poop anymore. But what would make cleaning toilets a more desirable job? The same thing that works for any job- more money. I wish anyone who had to clean a toilet would get paid just so much money. She asked if I would accept a single job if someone said they'd give me $100 to clean a toilet, even though I'm trained to do other things. "Of course! That's $100."
"But would you enjoy it?" she asked.
"No, it's a toilet, but $100 is a lot of money so maybe I'd learn to like it. I'd figure out a way to make it fun. I WOULD PUT GLITTER IN THE TOILET.
My immediate idea (I have a lot of immediate GREAT IDEAS) was using glitter as a scrubbing agent. So, we'd be making enough money to live comfortably, choosing our own hours, and we'd be known as those two women who come over and dump a cup of glitter in your toilet
Yes, yes, glitter is actually quite awful for the environment and contact guarantees at least one piece of glitter stuck in your eyebrow for the rest of your life. I will not actually dump a cup of glitter in the toilet. I'll google an image and I bet I'll find one.
Trying to make a career as an artist does sometimes feel like flushing glitter down the toilet, but I don't want to live a life where such ridiculous similes don't exist.
I've had a successful business as a plush designer, and now that I'm trying to make a name for myself in art I understand I have as much chance of living off that money as becoming a pro football player. But I've got my first non-group show happening this weekend, and that's a great first step. If you'd like to meet someone who is actually still thinking about the environmental ramifications of flushing glitter into our sewer system, please come by The Arsenal in Japantown San Jose this Saturday, August 28th from 2pm-5pm. You can also make an appointment for a private showing or an artist through through the gallery.
*When I got my first new couch, the delivery person (a large muscular man) asked me to feel his muscles, then said he was really strong and could pick me up. I was alone, and it was really scary. I hope that guy has a permanent eyelash stuck under his lid.