Monday, June 6, 2011

And What Do You Do?

I know I've bitched about mentioned this before, but I do have panic attacks issues when someone asks me:

And what do you do?

I know they are not asking about my hobbies. I know that they probably don't really give a damn.
But they want to ask me what I do for a living. How I make my dough. What mark I am making on the world.

I would rather have an enema on the spot than answer.

"Well, I call myself an artist but I haven't really sold much lately because of that nasty economic downturn. I used to sell a good deal, but not so much lately. I like to work with fabric and collage. I sell on Etsy. I used to sell on Ebay but that stopped working for me . . . no, I'm not in any galleries. I don't think there are any within 200 miles of where I live. Etsy is an internet shopping site. No, its very easy to use. Never heard of it, huh? No, my quilts are not like my grandmother's. I've kind of gotten away from sewing lately and . . . sure, sure, go get another drink."

What should I say?

"Well, for part of the day, I work as an artist. This time is often interspersed with domestic duties. At 2:30 in the afternoon, I become a dog walker. At 3:00 the bus arrives, and I am a mother for the rest of the day. I play games, do more domestic duties, do some dull computer work."

I could say:

"Well, I'm a homemaker with hobbies, and yes, I can hear the blood congeal in your veins as boredom shuts down your bodily functions."

I've either got to have a great job or just clamp my jaws shut and walk away. I want an alternative!

And I know I'm not the only one out there. Read this.

Really. Read it.

God. I wish I could have written that.


  1. When our kids were little, my husband and I, being self-employed gallery owners, alternated being home/being at the gallery. We didn't make a lot of money, but our kids experienced both of our styles of parenting, and we had the best/worst of both worlds. I feel blessed in that regard. It's very tough to commit fully to a career (as a parent) or to commit to being home full-time. You have chosen the latter, and that takes guts.

  2. Being an older artist with a degree, I can say, this is nothing new. There was simply no way to make a living with my art. I chose the museum field and then later graphic arts for that purpose. The problem lies not with YOU but the asker. Too often in our society the arts are poo pooed as frivolous and anyone who is involved in them must be as well. Here in America, income = a person's worth.

    There was an old PBS public announcement spot in which a person was sitting in a furnished room watching television. The voice-over asked, "what would happen if we took away the arts?" For example, music." The music went away. The voice worked it's way through, drama, visual arts, furniture design and clothing design. There were a couple of others, but I don't remember them. By the end of the spot, the person was sitting in a field (I believe) naked.

    Quite honestly, why be concerned about the opinion of someone so shallow? Smile, shake your head and walk away if you have to. You owe them no explanation regards YOUR life. Keep on truckin' as the old saying goes.

    Sorry, I didn't read the article first. Headed there now.

  3. Thanks for the link. Great article.

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  5. well kim. i dont have kids as you know and few people seem to think that 'working' 50 or more hours a week on art is a job.
    i'm the loser. not you. :)

  6. Kim I think you should PROUDLY say you are an artist and a stay at home Mum.
    People don't really want to know the ins and outs of what you do.
    Just give them the "elevator statement".

    I do very little paid work and mainly volunteer but I when I talk about what I do for the community I make it sound very important.

    Your job in the long run is probably more important than those working for big bucks.

    So make up that "elevator statement" and confidently dish it out.

    Big hugs sweet friend.
    Peggy xxxxx

  7. In the Basketball Diaries, Jim Carroll has the same problem. His response goes something like "What do you mean, what do I do? I'm cool. Isn't that enough?"