September 05, 2015
The counter-intuitive advice going around lately says don’t pursue your passion. The reason being that trying to make money from what you love will likely corrupt it.
An easy example is the hobbyist photographer who quits her day job to pursue photography as a business. Shooting weddings is the quickest path to making an income as a semi-professional photographer, due to the consistent demand for the service regardless of where you happen to live.
After the first several gigs, though, she quickly realizes that the stressful nature of the business has caused her to burn out, and now her art as a “maker” is just transactional. So now you could say she is in a worse position than before when she worked a day job.
She works even longer hours as a small business owner, for less pay per hour, and has lost touch with one of her greatest passions.
Linds Redding, a somewhat renowned creative director who recently passed away from cancer, before passing away reflects on his career, and specifically on this danger of trying to marry art and commerce:
It turns out I didn’t actually like my old life nearly as much as I thought I did. I know this now because I occasionally catch up with my old colleagues and work-mates. They fall over each other to enthusiastically show me the latest project they’re working on. Ask my opinion. Proudly show off their technical prowess (which is not inconsiderable.) I find myself glazing over but politely listen as they brag about who’s had the least sleep and the most takeaway food. “I haven’t seen my wife since January, I can’t feel my legs any more and I think I have scurvy but another three weeks and we’ll be done. It’s got to be done by then The client’s going on holiday.
What do I think? I think you’re all f------ mad. Deranged. So disengaged from reality it’s not even funny. It’s a f------ TV commercial. Nobody gives a s---.
This has come as quite a shock I can tell you. I think, I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole thing was a bit of a con. A scam. An elaborate hoax.
Countless late nights and weekends, holidays, birthdays, school recitals and anniversary dinners were willingly sacrificed at the altar of some intangible but infinitely worthy higher cause. It would all be worth it in the long run…
This was the con. Convincing myself that there was nowhere I’d rather be was just a coping mechanism. I can see that now. It wasn’t really important. Or of any consequence at all really. How could it be. We were just shifting product. Our product, and the clients. Just meeting the quota. Feeding the beast as I called it on my more cynical days.
So was it worth it?
Well of course not. It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.