Every time I meet someone new and they ask me what I do, I cringe inside. Because I know exactly what's about to happen next.
I say I'm an artist. Then they say some version of- "Oh, do you make money doing that?"
This happens every single time. EVERY TIME.
Then I look like a bitch because I'm making some sort of pissy face while I swallow my rage and my need to tell them to go fuck themselves.
This shit is rude. How can you tell? Well, if you said you worked in a lawyer's office and I replied back-- "What, do you make money doing that??"-- or "So do you make A LOT of money doing that?"-- You would think I was a rude asshole.
Do you know why? Because I would be BEING a rude asshole.
Now. Josh says that we should get rid of this social taboo we have of not ever discussing how much money we make because it only helps the employers and capitalists, and it hurts the workers. I agree with that.
But this is different, because the code behind the question to an artist-- "Do you make money doing that?"-- is are you a real artist. And the answer to that is YES. And also FUCK YOU. YES, I am a REAL goddamn artist. NO, how much money I made off of art last year doesn't determine if I get to "count" as an artist or not.
Artists make art. If you make art, and you care about art-- guess what? You're an artist! If you think about your art all the time and you work at it-- you are an artist. No one gets to take a look at your tax return and decide you don't qualify.
If you say-- "I'm an artist"-- and you never make anything, you're kidding yourself. But if you work on your art, guess what? You're an artist. There's no artist certificate that makes you An Artist. The Art Police aren't going to come to your house and demand to see your resume so they can check on how many gallery shows you've had. That's not a thing.
But here's a clue for the rest of the straight world-- for all those people who aren't engaged in creative work-- almost all of us need day jobs to make it. Artists, musicians, writers, actors-- a lot of us have to spend a lot of time doing random other work for money so we can pay our bills.
This doesn't make us failures, or people who are engaged in "hobbies". It means that a capitalist system doesn't value our labor. Now, if you'll look around you, you may find a lot of other people doing really important work that capitalism also doesn't value-- teachers, health care workers, activists, restaurant workers, farm workers.
Does this mean that teachers and activists are engaged in silly and pointless work? No, it fucking does not. It means that we have decided as a society that we'd rather pay tons of money to bankers to fuck us all over than to people who are doing the work that all of us actually need.
And when I'm looking at how long it took me to write out this whole vaguely Marxist critique, I can see why I just smile a tight, angry smile and say-- Yes. I DO make money doing that.
In my head, criticizing capitalism = Marxism, but Josh says this isn't really correct. Then he explained to me (again) what Marxist work actually is in an academic context, but it was long and I forgot again. So let's just say that I'm working outside the bounds of academic context. Which you probably should have been able to guess from all the swears.