Life, art and happiness.

I am in my late 40’s. That strikes me right between the eyes. LATE 40’s. I mean, where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday I graduated from High School…and now I have a kid one year away from graduating from her own high School and my youngest going right in after her.

It’s been 30 years this year since I escaped the confines of lower education. I never properly pursued higher education. I dropped out of art school for Pete’s sake. Twice.

Yes, I quit the same art school twice. And yet all I have wanted was a career in the visual arts. I know where I went wrong, but you can’t go back and fix it. So I face my late 40’s with few respectable “real job” prospects, a mostly self-taught technique as a cartoonist and I’m looking into the abyss of several thousand other like-minded not quite there yet cartoonists competing for anyone’s attention on the world wide web.

It’s a staggering thought. How  easy it is to do anything now. Publish a book. Start a website and sell a product. Hustle something on the side and make money doing something you love instead of what you have to do to make a living.

The competition is fierce. I wonder if it’s worth it. Is it worth all the time I’m spending trying to break into a market so crowded with other professionals and undiscovered talents alike.

I need to carve my own niche. Certainly I will still send my cartoons out, because at this point there isn’t anything left for me to do in that regard. I can still use the web to publish what and how I want. It’s the corner of monetization and working for free of that I need to round past.

I know already that when 50 arrives that I will not handle turning 50 well. At all. I know it’s just a number but age expectancy vs life time accomplishments that I set for myself is what becomes a major hurdle for me. Certainly I may make a small dent in the universe by then. Maybe the wheels of this slow chugging cartooning/art business I am pushing along will finally pick up speed and I might make a few bucks… that would be great. Even a modest profit as an artist would be nice.

Sometimes I think my focus on cartoons vs my abstract art and larger paintings may be the issue. Did I choose to focus on the wrong art to be working on? Just before the editors of The Coffeelicious approached me in 2015 I was going to take a long break from cartoons and work on my other art. Abstract paintings and elaborate doodles, other things I loved just as much as cartoons.

To shift away now feels like abandonment. I’m sure I can use the time I have to do both but again, I get in my own way and believe I am missing my calling by deviating to something else. It’s all in my fucking head and I am my own worst enemy.

I am making my own problems. As usual.

In the end what will any of it mean? Nothing. Do any of us leave anything behind that lasts? I don’t think so. So I wonder why we or I feel the need to create so much and accomplish so little with the talent we have. Is it ambition? Drive? Energy? Fame? What are the motivating factors in our lives that make us get out of bed in the morning and sit in traffic to get to a job we either love or hate?

Aren’t we competing with ourselves? Because everyone else is doing the exact same thing. So what makes any of us special?

What is it all worth?  Our time? Our money…our effort. What do we gain? And when we’ve passed on what do our loved ones do with all that we have left behind?

I have no idea where I was going with this post. I’m in between “day jobs” right now and still working on my passion in life which obviously is cartoons, telling really short stories in as few panels as possible. I often forget who I am doing this for and I should mostly be doing this to tickle my funny bone, first. Hopefully I also find a common ground with people reading my work and make a connection that way. But do I cater to an audience or stay organic and centered on truth and storytelling to communicate an idea and comment on the world at large. ?

These questions take the fun out of making art and turn it into a business. And I’m stuck between wanting to make money as an artist which means I have to think like a business and just making art to share because that’s what I am doing it for.

It’s a mess. The easy answer is tied to my personal motto “Live life, make art, be happy” this came up a few years back when I realized that the only way I was going to survive the daily grind of “sleep, eat, work, repeat” was to balance my life with equal amounts of creating art. “Live life…” means work. Means doing the shit we choose to do to keep the lights on and food on the table. “Making art” is my escape. My disconnect from the real world that bridges the daily bullshit of bills, traffic, 9-5 day job and kid schedules, sports and other running around. The busyness of life. Making that art leads me to maintaining my sanity hence: “Be happy” the gratification of making the time to make art. Whether it’s a blog post, a painting, a doodle or something else. The means of creating something from nothing is my salvation from a cruel and heartless world of keeping up with the jones and modern life.

I said a long time ago, I’m not the kind of guy who gets home from work and drinks beer and watches Sport Center. I can… but I’m not wired that way. I need to make something. I found out the longest period of time I can go without making some kind of art is about 90 days. After 90 days I get a little cranky.

I have thought about writing a book about Life, art and happiness. I might still do that. But I have to squeak it in, somewhere. First I need to find a new day job to pay the bills my artwork isn’t. Then get back to making that art and see if I ever will get to pay the bills that way.

Hey, maybe someday. I can’t afford not to try. It’s what keeps me moving.

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on February 2, 2017 at 10:18 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. Hey Scott – you are not walking an untrod path. I went there and did all the stuff about which you posted. Here is my take for you. First you need to eat and have a place to lay your head. After that, it gets way easier. I had a guitar teacher whose left hand I swear had 6-8 fingers on it. Older guy too later forties – His technique was blinding. Of course I asked how he did that and he said I call it stolen moments – 15 minutes a day I practice a very strict controlled regimen. Well Scott, once your eat sleep thing is fixed it’s all yours. Another thing I learned – do one thing. Scary I know, but you will eventually become SO good at it that one thing no one will be able to touch you. The evil in the lives of of folks such as you and me is two fold, the worst is distraction – his brother is doubt.
    I once watched a guy who had learned sax in a year – when asked how he said I made a down commitment – Either I do this or I am going down. Several years later I found my self in that exact situation and practiced 12-14 hours a day. Suddenly after one month – I didn’t have to grapple with any basics whatsoever – I arrived with the basics from college, I found myself to be a terror. I had mastered 350 songs in a dance band book and was never again struck with any form of concern. Learned a lot from that. You can do it. Need to include, stop over thinking stuff – take that energy and focus it on you characters, refine them, suddenly all the rest of the crap just falls away and it is time to go to bed.
    Finally 50 is the peak of your life physically and mentally. Almost everyone I have spoken with has felt the same. Revere the job that feeds you and thank it for holding things together till you get this rolling. An appreciation of everything adds the sweetness to life that we all seek. I was lucky to pass through it for a few moments. I think you will able to park there and enjoy it all. Enjoy.

    • Wow. I appreciate all that you wrote here. I had to re-read my own post because part of the way thru yours I wasn’t sure what I was complaining about.

      Thank you for your perspective. I am learning to relax a bit about the expectations I set for myself and what expectations the world has for me… Which is none. The world doesn’t know I exist.

      About a thousand people do between all my social media and I am beginning to understand that I need to make art for me, first and them second.

      As for the rest of the world…maybe I’ll get there. Maybe I won’t.

      Be well.


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