I grapple with this a lot too. Recently my framing to myself was this: "you are leveraging your *skills and strengths* for money [read: the means to support physical existence, and yes, even provide comfort.] Making art is certainly more than that to you, but you need to provide for yourself. If you create a good rate of exchange - or an efficient leverage - you can do more of the more fulfilling stuff with your time and energy." Differentiating between leveraging skills and making art is important to me here, since the former feels like a more practical clearcut thing, while 'making art' is more vague, theoretical, and personal. I can list my skills and strengths and understand the value they have in the world, while art's value is fluid, relative.

I also have to regularly remind myself that when I take care of the practical work of providing for myself, I am better able to hold my end of collective weight in the world. In my idealism, I have neglected my own needs in the name of taking action in support of my ideals. But if that action involves me not taking care of my own needs, I cant hold my weight, and usually I add to the weight of others. Basic self care theory here, but it bears repeating.

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This will sound weird at first, so bear with me, but I really love how you said “I’m 35 and have both tendinitis and sciatica”

One of my worst peeves of capitalist tricks is that thing where all my friends in their 30s (and sometimes in their 20s) say things like “well I hurt my back sneezing today, wow I’m so old.” When I know for a fact that they, say, have been working in a restaurant for nearly a decade. Your time on this earth did not break your body. Being forced to sell your labor broke your body.

So I did appreciate how you tied injury to work. I’m also 35, I did my time in the restaurant enough to suffer shin splints, feet problems, and wrist problems. Im not old. I was just exploited.

Now that I’m tattooing, I’m already dealing with back issues. But since having the privilege of starting a little private studio, I’ve been able to space out my work days because my income has increased significantly, since I’m not paying to work in a shop. (We’re talking about capitalism, but paying a shop owner 50% of my income just to work in their space.. it felt more like feudalism.)

The dream is to be a part of a collective shop, though. I wish I could find more likeminded artists in my area.

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