20081211

DISCIPLINE & PUNISH

In December of 2007, just about 1 year ago, I completed my graduate studies at Arizona State University, achieving a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Printmaking. Unlike many of my colleagues, I chose not to go the academic route, and instead I got a full-time job. So I moved to one of the most expensive cities in the country, where I don’t know anyone, to work 40+ hours a week and try to be an artist on top of that. It seems like a silly decision, I know.

But my job is great. I work full-time as a letterpress printer for Hello!Lucky. This provides several advantages: 1) I like what I do and the people I work with. At other jobs, I always had a hard time getting up in the morning. Not so now. 2) Everyday I print, thus everyday I become a little bit better at printing. If you really want to learn a process, do it 8 hours a day for five days a week. 3) I get full access to a top of the line letterpress studio with superfast & accurate German presses. So, my job, in a sense, not just supports, but somehow is, partially, my studio practice. A good situation for a young artist to be in.

I’ve been thinking lately that artists, generally speaking, are too afraid of full-time jobs. The thing is, if you want to work, if you’re going to make work, you will find a way to do it despite how broke and/or tired you are at the end of the day. When I was in Baltimore last month, my good friend Justin and I spent a fair amount of time talking about work habits, discipline, and productivity. He works a 9-5 as well, except he has flexible hours, so he goes in around 6-7 and gets off around 2-3. And then as soon as he gets home he spends at least a couple of hours writing, without fail. It’s about discipline, or as Ted Berrigan said, “cultivating the habit.” Just working in the “studio,” everyday, even if you’re not actually productive, is one of the most important things. I’m not quite as disciplined as Justin; on most days I don’t sit down to work until 9 – 10 PM, unless I’m working at the (job) studio, then I start around 6. Finishing The Drownable Species was a personal achievement, because it proved to me that I could still pull obscenely long hours under deadline pressure while I was still working 8+ hours a day. I could (job)work from 10-6, then (studio)work from 6-1, go home, go to sleep, and do it again the next day.

Whenever I’m working on a piece with a deadline, there’s a point when someone asks me, “Are you going to get it done?” My answer is, “I’ll get it done, I always do. The question is how much it’s going to hurt from here to there.”

Discipline and punish.

2 comments:

Justin Sirois said...

The work does hurt sometimes, it really does. Sometime dealing with the seclusion and lonesomeness of working alone is harder than the work itself. But when you're in a rhythm and have cultivated a habit of creativity -- making the creative process a daily practice -- then there's nothing like it.

Glad to finally see NewLights on the big, bright screen.

chris papa said...

Hello Lucky Looks like a great shop. congrats! You're living the good life!
-cp