An ad was posted on Craigslist recently that hit on so many of the issues that creative workers experience that Artist Stories hopes to convey. The title says a lot, so I don’t feel to need to contribute any commentary. Because of the temporary nature of Craigslist ads, I copied and pasted the content of the post below. I’d love to know your thoughts. And if you can identify with this person’s story, please consider sharing your own by submitting to this project:
Depressed Artist Seeks Wealthy Benefactor, And Also Her Soul (Anywhere)
I’m an artist with an Ivy League advanced degree, a good 9-5 job in a respectable helping profession who is finding it harder and harder to get up and go to work. Despite a steady income and benefits, I am becoming increasingly depressed because I am unable to dedicate my time to art making. I did the “responsible” thing and got that 9-5 job years ago, but it is taking a toll on my health. Being considered successful at what I do and a respected member of my profession doesn’t really help at all.
I’ve done the whole therapy thing, but I can’t therapy my soul back into my body. I can’t even medicate my soul back into my body with prescriptions; trust me, I’ve tried. I don’t do illicit drugs and don’t have an addiction of any kind, so that’s not an option for me, either. Though I hear there are some amazing hallucinogens that might help me get my soul back into my body. For personal reasons, I’m too nervous to try them, however. I do meditate, and that only helps to keep me from utter suffocation, which is important I guess.
I’m not a risk-taking artist, so I require stable income and housing, and to live in a relatively clean and safe neighborhood. I’m not that young and I have a family so I can’t sleep on people’s floors, couch surf or get roommates. I don’t have a wealthy partner whose income I can live on. I have recently considered moving into a trailer park to cut costs on housing, which would hopefully give me some financial flexibility. [And no, that was not a sarcastic jab at people who live in trailer parks (I clarify because some people are jerks and like to make fun of people who aren’t as privileged as they are).]
Work has always been a challenge, but it’s becoming harder to fake it lately. (Faking it five days a week for over 8 hours a day over many years takes a lot of energy, btw). I often find myself staring blankly into space as my soul recedes further and further away from my body and into some mouse hole in the wall.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a suddenly animated and talking rodent were to jump out of the wall one day and push me out of my chair to do my work for me. After all, it would be possessed with my soul. Well, I guess, however, that if it were possessed with my soul, it would make its way to an art studio instead, and on its way out it would give my job the finger while skipping and whistling, happily. (And no, I am not having a psychotic breakdown. I simply have a “strange” imagination.).
Frankly, I’m so tired of all of this that I would gladly trade places with a mouse in a wall because I’m pretty sure they get way more sleep than I do. If I can’t paint and make art, my only other desire is to sleep all day and binge-watch Netflix when I am awake, only leaving the bedroom for food and the bathroom.
Art making isn’t all lollipops and rainbows either, so don’t pretend I have some sort of Peter Pan syndrome or am looking for a fun and easy way out of life and adulthood. Have you been to the Art World? There is nothing romantic about it. It is a frightening planet, colder than Hoth where people’s humanity freezes and shatters as they gets whacked by bedazzled hard ons as other people stuff their pants with money, money, and more money, most of which the artist will never see. Making art is also hard work. People have this idea that artists just play around all day eating cotton candy in bouncy castles because they are “following their bliss” and dipping themselves in finger paints while drinking sunshine and lemonade, or whatever. It’s actually hard work, WORK, and it takes skill, and it is fraught with emotional ups and downs and challenges just like any job. But I digress…
Here’s an alternate headline: “Artist forced to make money [that she is quite grateful for] in a soul sucking, thankless helping profession to survive but who is a high functioning depressive who has fooled everyone into thinking she is a cheerful, energetic optimist, but has run out of shits to give seeks benefactor (aka savior or angel) so she can simply do her art work.” People love to hang our art on their walls but don’t ever think they need to pay for it. People love to consume the arts for free or dirt cheap, and then blame artists for our own financial and life struggles because apparently we should have chosen another profession [Yea, hi, I did that]. Ok, but if we do that and make less art or no art at all, then who will make the art that you all so love to consume but not pay for? Did you know that artists are more likely than the general public to go without health insurance? What happens, if like most people, we need to see a doctor? We have basic needs, just like everyone else. And we shouldn’t have to go without those needs being met just because you think all we do is play all day. Or perhaps you have understandably repressed your artistic gift to avoid this depression, but are taking that out on the rest of us…
I’d provide a sample of my art but I don’t trust most people who frequent CL enough to do that as you can do an image search and figure out my identity. I did just discover and then read the CL Rant & Raves section for a few minutes and lost some hope in humanity, or at least became more creeped out by the people on CL, in general. Yet, I am still posting, but like I said, I have run out of shits to give, so why not.
Regarding my skills as an artist…
I can tell you that I am somewhere on the continuum between a darn good stick figure and the Sistine Chapel. [I had the intention of doing a clever illustration of this continuum, but I’m depressed and have no energy, and don’t care enough to force myself to do it, but I envisioned a big red arrow flashing and pointing to the continuum line way closer to the Sistine Chapel photo (but not very close; I’m not deluded) than the stick figure. If it was flashing with multicolored, round fluorescent bulbs that would be even better.] I think I’m a good artist, with unique work. I’ve been an artist for over two decades and have been in group shows around the country. I’ve also done some curating. Themes of my work include gender, science/the natural world, psychology (mental health, loss), and dreams. Influences include Frida Kahlo, John Cage, and Francis Bacon. That being said, I don’t have that much work completed because… well… I think I’ve made that reason clear. What I am seeking is time to make a few cohesive bodies of work and then sell them. I’m working on a business plan now (while also working, trying to make art, and live life). It’s the only hope I have, unless a wealthy benefactor comes along, one who doesn’t seek sexual or other exploitive favors in return.
The original link: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/ats/5173438662.html