A rather personal piece for me.
There are very few of us with a need to create and produce art that manage to turn that need, that desire, into a sustainable career. Of those that manage it, still fewer of those lucky souls manage to create art for themselves, all on their own terms, without some outside influence dictating direction or changes. Therefore, we get the day gig. We get the job that is there to finance our real lives, and keep the bills paid. The tradeoff is well-known and common: the soul-sucking job leeches most of your time better spent focusing on your art, and leaves you with very little time and energy to get back to what you are doing it all for in the first place.
First as a musician, and now a visual artist, I have been doing this double life for over 20 years, and there are days, weeks, even years where I wonder how I can keep it up, and to this day, there is no apparent end in sight. I know I am not alone, not by a long shot. I work in an office environment. I work in a cubicle. I have not slept well in over 20 years because my right brain is nocturnal, but the corporate world is very much operating from the left hemisphere. The danger in taking the day job is that it can kill the artistic endeavor it is meant to sustain, like a slow and deepening frost to a struggling sapling. It is easy to give up, and it takes constant vigilance and re-dedication to keep the output alive. Of course, most of us would agree that it is not an option; the need is there, and it defines you and becomes you. But, there is a full one-half of my life that is depressing, frustrating, and mind-numbing. It cannot become a career, it must stay a job because if it deepens into a career, it would take still more mental space and more precious time away from what I consider a higher purpose.
This image, therefore, with its blunt title and stark, Stepford-like worker drones, becomes rather obvious. Certainly the visuals make it all seem dystopian and menacing, but in a way, it IS like that, at least to me. I feel I am donning another person’s clothing and persona, and I am an unwilling imposter in this cubicle hell, which discourages individuality and rewards Borg-esque assimilation. It is time-driven, it is relentless, and there are times I want to scream and just quit. But none of this would be here without it, and that, for now, is the cost of doing what you love with the little time left to it, after the work day, after the hostile commutes, after all other concerns are put to bed and the chores completed.
This was, naturally, done in the wee hours of the work week, deep into the night, when the body wants sleep, but the mind is restless and still eager and youthful in its desire to create something out of nothing.
Thanks for reading and viewing.
Model: Gilberto Mendez