So Don writes a post.
Then I write a post.
And suddenly we got ourselves a tag team brawl where Don and I play the part of the Road Warriors and Mike and Scott playing the role of the Hart Foundation. And yes, that is a very old school wrestling reference but what the hell, it's Friday . . . let's have some fun.
In their haste to bash my comparison of the poker world to the much more noble world of the professional artist Mike and Scott miss a few of my broader points, such as this one:
2. They understand the world they are in and how to thrive in it. - You think making a living as an artist sucks? Try making it as a poker player. But the profitable players don't complain about the environment. They thrive in it. In fact, they wouldn't have it any other way because if everyone could be a professional poker player . . . there wouldn't be any money in it.
Money is what we are talking about right? When we talk about artists making a living wage, being able to feed their families, retire, go on vacations, we are talking about money and what decisions should an artist make (or not have to make) in order to get some.
In this complex economic world we now live in, which is dynamically different then the one that existed just 10 years ago my theory is that the only thing that really creates money/wealth/value is scarcity, which Websters defines as "something in short supply."
So if you want to make a really decent living doing ANYTHING now, people have to believe that there is something about working with you that you can't get working with just anyone.
If you haven't been able to carve out that distinct niche for yourself, either in the work you do, how you do the work, or who you do the work for . . . then you are officially a commodity and you will be treated like one, meaning you will get paid just enough to keep you working but never enough to be stable.
It's true for doctors, lawyers, plumbers and artists . . . there is nothing sacred about the artistic profession that makes it different.
I used poker as an example of this because to be successful in it over the long haul you have to develop some form of scarcity in the midst of an incredibly hostile environment. Because in a poker tournament damn near everything is against you.
The other players want your money.
The structure of the tournament is designed to force you to make decisions early on instead of doing what you really want to do . . . which is wait for good cards.
And then there's the harsh luck factor which means you could do everything right and still lose.
So when I make the poker and art analogy, I'm not really comparing artists and poker players . . . I'm talking about the difficult environment both face and how each side has to develop unique skills to thrive in it.
But here's the thing . . . not everyone will develop those skills. That's just a fact.
Those who do develop those skills will eventually be the ones we call winners.
Those who don't will be the ones we call losers . . . or dead money.
Do you need some examples of people who have developed the skills? I got two good ones.
Scott Walters and Mike Daisey.
Scott and Mike are both artists and each one has carved out a path that has allowed them some artistic freedom (certainly not a perfect amount but some)
Scott's a tenured prof and an artist. Tenure is a system built on scarcity (not all professors get it)
Mike has done a brilliant job of taking his artistic talents, mixing it with entreprenurial skills and creating a niche. Maybe he didn't plan it that way, but that is what happened.
Now the question becomes, should Scott and Mike have to go through all the damn struggle to find a path to keeping art in their day to day lives? Shouldn't it be easier to make it as an artist?
Yes, it absolutely should be easier. But it will never, ever, be easy.
And as much as people saying they want it to be easy . . . they really don't mean it.
Because if everyone could make it as a professional artist . . . there wouldn't be any money in it.