Questions | creating VS making a living

Is it possible to be creating the new, pushing yourself and shifting paradigms (and any other clichés you can think of) while simultaneously earning bread and getting out in front of the public and strutting your stuff?

Does making a living from your art mean you limit your possibilities?

Are you a sell out if you don’t dress up as a rabbit, repeatedly jump through a hula hoop and shout “gangways” over and over again?

I think you can do both (but I’m not sure I do) but not many manage it at any rate!

3 thoughts on “Questions | creating VS making a living”

  1. I see why no reason why there should be any separation, and I get clearer on that as I get older.

    I used to subscribe to the old “I do commercial work, so I can fund my artistic projects” fallacy, but I think now that that is both dangerous and deeply damaging as an artist.

    It may be a utopian (or just plain stupid and impossible) vision that the two strands don’t need to be thought of apart from one another, but I am happy to try to keep believing that myself. It seems to be a modern development to differentiate the two: it didn’t seem to affect the quality of the work of Bach and others.

    “Does making a living from your art mean you limit your possibilities?”
    No. Making a living from your art means that your art is your life, and so the possibilities are with you every single moment of your life.

    The whole “commercial” vs. “art” discussion is loosely linked to some thoughts I’ve been trying to get into order RE the old technique vs. creation “issue”. I think these borders are not created by any genuine external factors, but by internal insecurity. Of which we artist-folk tend to have a lot of 😉


  2. I tend to think along the same lines Luke.

    The main reason for that (slightly depressed) post was after a day of researching and watching talking acts (mainly street comedy acts) as I’m working to create a talking act myself.

    Whether you look at the character, personality, gender, costume, technique or theatrics 99.9% of street acts seem to be pretty much the same. And while I understand that creating anything truly original is next to impossible and that there is a certain structure to a show that seems to make logical sense does that really mean everyone has to rip off the same material?

    Perhaps the reason everyone uses the same material is because it ‘works’ and that’s the way you have to do it if you want to make a living. I don’t really believe (or want) that to be true but as an outsider it certainly appears to be the case.

    I know there is a difference between reworking a joke, borrowing concepts or just happening to come to the same conclusion but that’s not what I see. What I see all to often are bad copies.

    I’ve had enough of seeing people blatantly steal from Michael Davis, Dan Holzman, Steve Rawlings and all the other great comedy jugglers who have created strong material.

    But it’s easy to sit here and type that… let’s see what I come up with first!

    Maybe it just has to be that way but I hope not.

  3. But of course the artists you mention (Michael Davis, Dan Holzman, Steve Rawlings) are very successful commercially: so clearly originality, style and character ARE important.

    Yes, there are countless less original performers making a good living, but their names are less known.

    The problem is perhaps the desire for quick success, which leads to unoriginality and less risk.

    In terms of finding new material and lines, I have comparing it recently to TV sitcom writing. Basically, when the relationships, the status and the character are clearly defined, the material writes itself… True for solo live juggling shows too, I think.

    Perhaps that is the correlation between those names you mention! Original (and strong) characters lead to original (and strong) material.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s