[NetBehaviour] naughty boy

Pall Thayer pallthay at gmail.com
Wed Aug 19 12:15:10 CEST 2009

I agree Alan. Even though I frequently dislike my job, I would be an
absolute wreck without it. Sometimes I wish I had the balls to be an
"unemployed" artist but I don't. I even tried once. The fall after
finishing my MFA we moved back here to Iceland and the plan was for me
to keep working on my art. I had landed a couple of little teaching
gigs in the spring but there wasn't much money in it. After about two
weeks I couldn't take it any more. I couldn't stop wondering whether
or not this was financially feasible for us. So I called up a company
where I had applied for a job a few years earlier to see if they
thought they would be hiring programmers any time soon and it turned
out they had an opening right then and there. I had to cancel my
teaching gigs, which I regretted, but at least I could relax and stop
worrying about our financial future.

When I was a teen, we didn't have much money. My parents were divorced
with no child support coming from my father who lived in the US (he
was American). My two siblings and I worked as much as we could with
school to help our mother make ends meet. Due to this, the thought of
not having a steady income is really scary to me. I've been working
more or less nonstop since I was 15. I've done everything from packing
fish to taking and packing orders for human blood, operating a
forklift, construction work, teaching high school and art school to
working as a professional web developer. I would sooner accept a job
as a street cleaner than to be unemployed.

And I don't regret for a minute having gone to art school. Sure, my
art degrees aren't necessarily what get me jobs but my art is
everything to me and I loved every single minute of art school all the
way through to my MFA. When I was in high school, I really struggled
to make it through just out of sheer boredom. Working almost full time
with school didn't make it any easier. When I finally decided to start
taking art classes it was like I was reborn. Finally everything seemed
worth it if I viewed it as making it possible for me to pursue a
career in art. My job today gives me the freedom to maintain an active
art practice. I work from 9 to 5, get home at about 6, spend a few
hours with the family and then begins my "art" workday. Of course, by
then it's about 9pm which means that to get anything done I frequently
have to stay up about till about 2 or 3 am which in turn means I'm
going to be like a zombie at my "day" job but I do it anyway.
Sometimes I wish I could quit my job and spend all day working on my
art but I'm not sure it would help me get more done. I'd be riddled
with guilt over not working and worry about finances. So this is the
way it is.

Here in Iceland we have an artist's salary fund where artists can
apply for a state payed salary for 3 to 36 months. The problem with it
is that you're not allowed to have another job at the same time. I'm
perfectly fine with this except that if I were to receive say, a 12
month salary, I would have to quit my current job with no guarantee
that I would be able to get another one after the 12 months. So I
don't apply. I'd really like to but the thought of a financially
unstable future scares me too much.

And finally, James: I don't think that your choice of degree is what
makes it difficult to find jobs. Of course, I've never met you so I
can't say what I think it might be but I'm sure that it's not your
choice of degree. Perhaps, as you say, it has something to do with
gaps in your employment record. That's something prospective employers
don't like to see if you don't give a valid reason for it.

On Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 12:15 AM, Alan Sondheim<sondheim at panix.com> wrote:
> It's not instrumentalist; it's more fundamental. If you're crazy with stress
> because of bad health care, little or no income, you just don't function
> well. If you have students, I assume you're full time - my two courses at
> SVA won't even pay the bills (adjuncts get next to nothing). I have
> nightmares over this, migraines, etc. In other words there has to be a
> modicum of feeling you're not going to lose your apartment or your teeth,
> you're going to have some sort of stability somewhere. I don't have that -
> it doesn't sound like 'naughty boy' does either.
> - Alan
> On Wed, 19 Aug 2009, Simon Biggs wrote:
>> I always feel guilty seeking to justify to students why they should
>> persist
>> with completing their degrees, whether BA, MA or PhD ­ so I donıt. They
>> often say they want a degree so they can get a decent job and balance that
>> with their creative practice. They say they see me, with a job and an
>> artistic career, as a role model. I point out to them I left school at 15
>> with no qualifications -  to be a hippy. Other than being an artist and
>> coincidentally securing various positions because of my artistic
>> activities,
>> including my current one, I have never had what I consider a real job in
>> my
>> life. Iım just a good for nothing artist ­ at least in the eyes of the
>> taxi
>> driver or plumber I often encounter (people with real jobs). It seems that
>> being good for nothing can be more rewarding than being socially useful.
>> I find it a worrying that people judge themselves by whether they are
>> gainfully employed or not. Everyone has something to contribute. We live
>> in
>> societies, both poor and wealthy, that historically have tolerated
>> significant percentages of their populations being what, in todays terms,
>> we
>> would consider economically inactive. However, economic inactivity does
>> not
>> mean a lack of productivity. There are so many ways that people can
>> contribute value to themselves and those around them without getting a
>> job.
>> I never wanted a job anyway!
>> We should not allow an instrumentalist view of life to become
>> paradigmatic,
>> especially in creative practice. That is the death of the artist.
>> Best
>> Simon
>> Simon Biggs
>> Research Professor
>> edinburgh college of art
>> s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
>> www.eca.ac.uk
>> www.eca.ac.uk/circle/
>> simon at littlepig.org.uk
>> www.littlepig.org.uk
>> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
>> From: Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com>
>> Reply-To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
>> <netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org>
>> Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 13:25:23 -0400 (EDT)
>> To: Theory and Writing <WRYTING-L at listserv.wvu.edu>
>> Cc: <netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org>
>> Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] naughty boy
>> My degree's in english, which has been useless all
>> these years; Azure's is in environmental conservation from NYU (mine's
>> from Brown). She hasn't been able to get work; I teach from time to time,
>> part-time, and the stress is incredible; I think about suicide, running
>> away with Azure, etc. etc.
>> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
>> SC009201
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Pall Thayer

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