That is my new mantra.
I recently read Patti Smith's book, "Just Kids" and I realized that I had not been creating art for art's sake. Somehow I had lost the thread, was caught up in other things, and the point had been missed. Instead of creating just for the sheer joy of creation, I had gotten caught up in something strangely insidious: the need to make a living as an artist.
I know that sounds perfectly ridiculous when I say it out loud - or type it on this heretofore blank page. Everyone has to make a living, right? You gotta put food on the table, buy a few sturdy pairs of shoes for the kiddos, pay your cable bill. Totally reasonable.
Not when art ceases to be art and becomes money. I don't want to live my life that way, where conspicuous consumption overshadows my need to be creative. I want to make things because I am moved to make them, not because I am trying to please someone, or I am trying to sell said art.
It just seems stupid to chase after art like it's a business.
I make the stupidest shit when I'm doing that.
This thought has become even clearer in my head as the days wear on. Especially now that we live in a time when, for me, being an actor isn't really a legitimate way to make a living anymore. I haven't made enough money as an actor in the past three years to support myself. If I wasn't writing books and signing my name with a sharpie in echoing convention halls, I'd be living in the spare room at my dad's - sorry, dad, I know that you would love to have me and the space is great, but somehow it's not quite right for me...YET. Who knows, I may be in that spare room sooner than I think.
I still work as an actor, but when you make 100 bucks a day (or no money 'cause it's deferred) and the work is super intermittent at best, well, you ain't buying your baby a new computer with that. Occasionally, the Gods smile down on me and Shonda Rhimes calls - then I make enough money as an actor to keep my Health Insurance. But those gigs are getting fewer and far between. And not just for me, but for every working actor.
Now, I'm not really complaining - yes, you are, a little voice in my head says - but all of the above seriously puts a damper on me supporting myself as an artist. And the crappy thing is that I have it way better than the majority of artists...they're REALLY starving. At least I've got a roof over my head and food on my table.
I don't know what the answers are. I just know that I have to start creating things for myself and if other people dig what I'm doing then great. But I can't make art because I want fame, fortune or casual sex with groupies - actually, the casual sex with groupies has never applied to my life, but even if it did, it would not be a good reason to make crappy art.
I guess what I am going to do is continue to write my books (which are art, too, so when writing them I just gotta write what moves me) and put my food on the table that way and then I can act if I want to, make movies if i want to, write internet porn if I want to and sit on the couch doing absolutely nothing for long stretches of time if I want to...and if none of these other endeavors never makes a dime...well, who gives a shit. I'm just gonna let it ride.
All I know is that I don't know nothing.
Oh, and that I'm making art for art's sake, so screw what anyone else thinks.