Joan Watson + not biting her tongue
Joan Watson + not biting her tongue
Thank you. It’s a touchy subject for me, because I was an animation major once upon a time. The people who work in the art industry, especially independently, like to talk about how they’d literally kill themselves if they had to work in a cubicle. It’s funny how so many people are unaware that Pixar is a ginormous cubicle farm…
But anyway; I changed majors because the volatile nature of the game industry has gotten much worse, and because doing art for a living was destroying my love for it. I was incredibly skilled at it, but doing it for money made me feel like a prostitute. I’m sure some people don’t feel that way, but the conclusion I ultimately came to was that if I continued that career path, I would end up changing jobs again at 35 and never drawing again.
A good question for young artists to ask themselves is, “Am I willing to let someone else literally dictate every aspect of the art I am producing? Am I willing to work for, and surrender creative control to, a person who not only knows nothing about art, but seems to actively hate it?”
"Am I willing to become the tool with which another person creates, and can I emotionally separate myself enough from what I am doing in order to handle criticism that I must follow to the letter to keep my job?"
If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, then the art field is probably not a good choice.
For the people mystified about why everyone’s up in arms about the original comic:
Nnobody working a terrible job just to survive in an economy with job loss more dire than that of the Great Depression wants to be told, by anyone, that they could just open a knitting store.
Nobody who has struggled, and bled, and suffered, and failed, at doing what they “love to do”, because this economy is hostile even to engineers with Masters degrees, wants to be told to open a knitting store.
Nobody likes to be victim-blamed or told that the way out of economic despair that is nationwide is somehow so simple that you just didn’t think about “doing what you love” and decided completely voluntarily to work part time, close to 39 hours, at a shitty restaurant and be made to feel grateful for that, rather than just opening a knitting store.
With student debt on the rise, and out-of-control, corrupt health insurance system threatening to collapse our economy further while 40,000 people a year die as a direct result of being uninsured, nobody, nobody, NOBODY, wants to be told, TO OPEN A FUCKING KNITTING STORE.
And if you’re so sheltered, so classist, so ignorant, so full of yourself, so arrogant as to think you know better than this country’s top economists who are predicting a fucking dire collapse from a multitude of reasons including mass outsourcing of jobs, health insurance, the housing bubble bursting, student debt, massive fraud and waste over military contracting incl. oh I don’t know TWO FUCKING WARS in the last decade, trillions of dollars of national debt, and American government imperialism threatening more?
Don’t tell people to open a fucking knitting store. Why don’t you open a fucking newspaper?
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? She wasn’t being arrogant you piece of shit. She was trying to tell people to do what they love and try. She wasn’t doing anything bad, she was just trying to tell people to think positive. And if you are that much of an asshole to give some one shit just when they were trying to help and inspire people then you are the one that’s wrong.
Some people in this web site are just so full of shit.
I think if my best friend died and some asshole told me I could get a new best friend while I was crying over the grave, her good intentions for me wouldn’t mean jack diddly. Some shit is just toxic to say to people who are struggling regardless o f why you say it. Absolutely fucking toxic. “Cheer up” to a depressed person. “Just keep fighting” to someone with cancer.
What the fuck is wrong with me, namely, is that I actually understand that if you fail in today’s economy it’s not because you didn’t love your hobbies enough.
So fuck that victim blaming bullshit and fuck everyone who mindlessly, uncritically supports it.
SHE NEVER SAID THAT. She was trying to do something nice, if you disagreed with her maybe you could find another way of saying that, instead of just acting like a jerk. Because if you didn’t know there are lots of ways for telling someone that you don’t agree with them or the message they were trying to give. She was trying to do something nice and you are giving her shit for it. That’s what’s wrong.
The only difference between criticism and ‘giving someone shit’ is the tone and the number of swear words. The creator of this version of the comic has a completely legitimate point, and that rant is spot on. While the tone is inflammatory, the point is perfectly legitimate, and one that I completely agree with. When I first saw the original comic my eyes almost rolled out of my head.
Let’s turn this into constructive criticism rather than inflammatory ranting.
She chose a really bad example for how you can turn a passion into a career, because one: you need equity, credit, and a stable income to qualify for a loan to open a business, and two: you’d have to live in quite an affluent area to make a specialty store like that viable. You know, the small town that refuses to allow big business chains open up within 50 miles of their ‘quaint downtown area.’ I live in one of those affluent areas, and we totally do have a yarn store. I believe it’s called the Yarn Barn, actually. But the average rent cost in that downtown area is almost $2000 for a studio apartment. Not a one bedroom, a studio. Utilities not included. The median house price is between 1 and 1.5 million. The lowest house prices are in the upper 600,000’s. The person who owns that store does that as a hobby, not as her primary income; her husband owns a tech company. That’s pretty much the story for every store in that area; rich people who have a hobby and they want to profit from that hobby.
Notice that I said hobby.
Owning a specialty store is a HOBBY, not a career path. Anyone who tells you otherwise is completely delusional. Furthermore, if you are using an independent business as your primary income, you are not doing what you love; you are running a business. If you have never had a job where you had to do things like audits, bookkeeping, and management, you know that it is about as far away from art as you can get. In fact, if you have the kinds of skills that would make you successful at running a business, you should be managing someone else’s business as a way to fund your passions, not risking bankruptcy. If you want to open a specialty store, do so after you’ve retired so you aren’t dependent on the income.
If you can’t afford to throw the money you would spend on starting that business into an incinerator right this second, you should not even CONSIDER opening a business.
The positivity of the message does not excuse the author from being rightfully mocked. Of course she only uses a knitting store as one example of potential passion-related careers, but she probably couldn’t have picked a worst example. “She was just trying to say something nice!” is not an excuse for what ultimately boils down to terrible advice wrapped in a condescending package that seems to come from the point of view of someone who makes a living doing art, and has forgotten what it’s like to struggle your way into even minimum wage territory in that field.
That may not be the author’s intent, but that is absolutely the message that is being sent. Just like the author has the right to encourage people to follow their dreams, people like myself and the ranter have the right to ground that statement in the reality of the world we live in.
Here are some better suggestions for someone who wants to pursue art as a career, straight from the advisement department of one of the best animation schools in the US.
Tattoo artist and/or piercing artist, web design and logo design, advertising, interior design, art teacher (academic or private,) video game conceptual development, animation, special effects… you get the idea.
Notice how all of these things are jobs that you can get working for a company that provide at least some 9-5 stability and financial security. You have unemployment benefits. Health insurance. Maybe even retirement savings programs. Their break room might have free snacks and coffee. Two words: Paid. Vacation. Those things only come from working for someone else, rather than being self employed. What you lose in flexibility you gain in stability.
I am now going to say something that may be somewhat inflammatory, but it is a point that I cannot stress enough.
To do ANY of these things as a career, you must be in the top 5-10% in terms of skill, work ethic, and qualifications. Dreamworks does not hire people without formal animation training. THERE IS A RIGHT AND A WRONG WAY TO DRAW AND TO ANIMATE IF YOUR GOAL IS TO WORK ON ANIMATED FILMS OR VIDEO GAMES. THERE ARE NO SELF TAUGHT ARTISTS WORKING AT PIXAR, THEY WERE TRAINED EITHER AT ART ACADEMIES OR WERE TAUGHT BY MASTER ARTISTS. IF YOU DO NOT ADHERE TO THE STYLE AND SKILL REQUIREMENTS FOR ANY ANIMATION OR VIDEO GAME STUDIO, YOUR PORTFOLIO WILL GO STRAIGHT INTO THE TRASH. A tattoo shop will require you to take an apprenticeship for several years before they even let you near a human being with a tattoo machine. You need drafting skills and years of training for graphic design and interior design, plus years of experience and a huge portfolio to be successful at it. ALL of these things require years of experience, training, and a big pile of luck to be made into successful careers.
IF, FOR ANY REASON, YOU DOUBT THAT YOU ARE LITERALLY ONE OF THE BEST ARTISTS IN YOUR CHOSEN FIELD, YOU WILL NEED A BACKUP PLAN AND A WAY TO SUPPORT YOURSELF SO YOU HAVE ENOUGH FINANCIAL COMFORT AND STABILITY TO PURSUE YOUR PASSION.
There is absolutely NO shame in having a day job that is not related to your passion. In fact, I find the implication that any job outside of your field of passion will be a soul-crushing, spirit-shattering hellhole to be a childish, naive viewpoint at best and offensive at worst. You are perfectly capable of liking more than one thing. If your job makes you want to put a bullet in your brain, and it is possible for you to make a lateral career move, DO IT. But if you cannot afford to change jobs, hearing someone tell you to follow your passions as a career path is not just ridiculous, it’s INSULTING.
You cannot put a price on your passions, but you absolutely CAN put a price tag on the cost of pursuing them. Are you a sculptor? You need a job that pays well enough to afford clay. Are you a painter? ONE tube of Gauche paint is $10-15, and good brushes can cost over $100. Professional grade WACOM tablets start at $300-$400. Art is an EXPENSIVE as HELL passion to have. you know what else has a price? The cost of living. The cost of food. The cost of hot water and electricity.
I have worked at terrible jobs. I have also worked wonderful jobs. None of them have been related to my passion (illustration,) and only one is related to my career path (psychology.) The relative terribleness of the job had nothing to do with how much it related to my interest, it had to do with whether or not it provided financial security, autonomy, and fulfillment. One of the highest paying jobs I have had was a soul-sucking hellhole because our boss, who lived in another country, would literally watch us on the cameras the entire work day. It was oppressive, stressful, and boring. The best job I have had paid less than $10 an hour and I loved it because I had manager responsibilities (autonomy,) a consistent and reliable schedule (security,) and I had both the power and the motivation to help the customers and solve their problems (fulfillment.)
The author implied that any job that you are not passionate about will fill you with regret. To that, I say: bullshit. Your life is not a pass/fail scenario. Many people in the art field talk about working a 9-5 job like it’s a dehumanizing process, like it steals your soul a little bit every day. That is so laughably untrue for most people that it makes me upset whenever an artist tells that to a young artist, or even implies it. In fact, having a career in something other than your hobby will expand your horizons. You’ll meet a wider variety of people. One of the most obnoxious things about art colleges is how homogenous the students are. If your passion defines every aspect of your life, you are a cardboard cutout of a human being. People, especially artists, need depth.
And let’s be honest; there isn’t a single successful artist who didn’t pay their dues in a terrible job. Some of them are famous because the terrible job was something that others could relate to. You know damn well that Scott Adams based every character in Dilbert off of real people, and yet we ALL know a Wally. We ALL know an Alice. We ALL worked for the type of moron that makes you daydream about ways to push him down fifteen flights of stairs.
Now, let’s sum this all up:
On the hierarchy of human needs, pursuing a passion is at the tippy-top of that pyramid. You cannot pursue your passion until you have everything below it. It is better to work at a job you hate while pursuing your passion as a hobby than it is to financially ruin yourself by stubbornly refusing to compromise in the game of life. WORKING A NORMAL OFFICE JOB DOES NOT MAKE YOU A FAILURE AT LIFE, AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SUPPORT YOURSELF WILL ABSOLUTELY MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE A FAILURE. And if you can’t support yourself, you will not have the time nor the energy to fill and refill the well from which creativity springs. Not being able to support yourself is far more detrimental to your mental health than working a financially secure job that you hate.
Chase your dreams. Pursue your passion. Find your bliss.
But don’t do those things at the cost of everything else.
And for fuck’s sake, do NOT quit your stable, well-paying office job to open a goddamn yarn store.
Here’s steps for a painting that was pretty defining for me as an artist. It’s a bit older now, but still gives me feels and feels belong on a tumblr. Took three or so days I believe, all from imagination.
All my dance moves are miserable, but I love to dance, so I just go with the miserableness of it. I hope it’s, like, charming in a bad way, you know?