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How a "Starving Artist" Mentality has Helped Me Dodge the Money-Centric Bandwagon

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, June 27, 2016
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-Art by Edvard Munch (cover for Hunger by Knut Hamsun)

It is a common phrase that has been repeated time and time again: “(The love of) money is the root of all evil”. At least for me, it was one of the few words to live by that my Latin teacher liked to reiterate at the end of each class. I have never been a fan of money, and when I imagine a person who loves money so much, I picture Scrooge McDuck diving into his giant pool of gold coins and taking a swim.

One does not need to travel far to meet people who love money. Just the other day, the topic of money entered an otherwise pleasant conversation while dining at a fancy restaurant with a couple of grown-ups. It all started with how many figures someone's daughter makes and how I should be striving to aim for a similar wage bracket. It was a pretty boring topic of conversation that concluded with me saying, “I am NOT Money-Centric!” And that ended the discussion from my end.

Money is an intangible concept that I have been trying to wrap my mind around. It comes in many forms such as metal, paper, and most commonly a digital number. I have observed an obsession with the acquisition of money that I fail to understand. I see money as an exchange of one hour of your life (a commodity of time that you will never ever, ever get back) for a digital number that can be used for an even more fun experience sometime in the future.

The Starving Artist archetype is true for the most part. There have been times in my adult life where I had to make ten dollars last an entire week for food because I was too proud to give up my creative pursuits. I believe Knut Hamsun's novel Hunger gives a much more in-depth description of starving from the perspective a Danish writer. Ever since I have traded the goal of landing my “Dream Job” in exchange for having A job, I have been successful at acquiring jobs.

I have compiled a list of workplace necessities in order to keep my sanity and avoid the burnout of the daily grind.

1. Does your job make YOU happy?
2. How happy do you feel before/during/after work?
3. Is your work meaningful and make a difference for other people?
4. How is the view?
5. Do you mesh well with most of your coworkers' personalities?
6. Is your job considered “work” or do you see it as an opportunity for new experiences?
7. Does your job utilize your strengths?

The main point I am trying to stress is that being happy at work is the most important requirement for me right now. Having a gorgeous view is also important because I would much rather stare at a pretty mountain range during sunrise or sunset than sit in a dim room with the blinds down all day. The idea that my job requirements take general well-being and quality aesthetics into consideration probably started from my love of creativity, beauty, and enjoying the details.

I opt to prioritize my well-being over any job with a large cash flow that makes me miserable, but I suppose that goes part and parcel with not being money-centric.


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anonymous?

ozoneocean at 6:01AM, June 29, 2016

Fair enough if they treat you differently because they want you to given them some of that money, I get that, but if people treat you better just because you're supposed to have money, that's pretty sick.

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:56AM, June 29, 2016

I spoke to my mom the other day on whether having children had an effect on her views on money. She let me know that I will be able to form an opinion on that issue once I experience it first hand. A responsible parent looking out for the well-being of his or her children is not necessarily a money-centric person. I have observed the way people are treated when they have little money versus when they have enough to show off and I find it to be a shallow measure of a person's character.

kawaiidaigakusei at 12:47AM, June 29, 2016

One of the main points I forgot to bring up is that the experience of living on a budget has been instilled in the way I spend money even though I have more saved. I learned how to make my money count by knowing where to shop, typical deals, and the difference between needs and wants. I try to stay in the frugal mentality more by choice by shopping at thrift stores or dollar shops because that was what I did before I secured a few jobs.

ozoneocean at 12:15AM, June 29, 2016

It depends on how much savings you have and how you manage it SLK8ne. If you have enough in reserve you have a lot of security, and in a country like Australia where I am illness won't wipe you out. Living from paycheck to paycheck or with a lot of debt though equals zero security, no matter HOW big your paycheck is. People in the mining industry here were of $150,000+ salaries for doing manual labour but when the GFC hit they were out of a job... For a smart person that wouldn't have been an issue but many of these morons threw all their cash away on gambling, jetskis, super expensive cars, renting expensive apartments etc and now they have nothing. So it doesn't so much matter how much you have as how well you manage it.

SLK8ne at 6:15PM, June 28, 2016

Also, I kind of doubt that money really gives you security. Especially here in the US. The reason I say that is that I've known too many people (and have friends who know even more) who were wiped out by one illness. Not to mention there are those things called "circumstances beyond our control" where our job, or even our industry folding up can leave us trapped. (know a lot of folk there) Money can give you a little breathing room to get on your feet, but, its not real security. Really, in the world we live in, is there such a thing? To quote Logan 5, "There is no sanctuary"

SLK8ne at 6:09PM, June 28, 2016

I would add that happiness is not just pleasurable experiences. It is feeling satisfied whether the experience is pleasant or not. Anyone who enjoys the woods knows that you can be caught in a torrential downpour, be physically soaked to the skin beset with mosquitoes and somehow be happy in spite of it. Why? Because you're doing your heart's desire.

SLK8ne at 6:02PM, June 28, 2016

Interesting thread idea. I'm on disability so I'm kind of a starving artist by default. (at least for the time being) And I've been poor all my life, so maybe I've got a different perspective. Money is an inanimate object. The response to evil either by the greed for it or from the lack of it are independent of the object itself. It is our reaction that creates the immorality. Money can't buy you happiness. (another hackneyed slogan) But, its true. If you can pay your bills, your stress will be lower. Money can pay for you to have experiences that will give you enjoyment. And of course, in our society, money is a status symbol. In fact, it is often the only measure of value society will use to judge you. Rich people are judged by their "net worth" and slackers who don't want to work are considered "worthless". So, while it can't buy you happiness, it can get the crudballs of the world off your back. For a while anyway.

usedbooks at 4:56PM, June 28, 2016

Oh, and some people hate me (or my position -- see "fed" ); others are inspired. The uniform tends to influence that. Kids love the hat and the badge. It also feels like a secret identity, so I can shed all my personal hang-ups and basically play a character at work (who is also me somehow).

usedbooks at 4:53PM, June 28, 2016

I love my job. I look forward to it. My coworkers and I have a lot in common and are sympathetic to most everything. The money is okay. Enough to live on. It calls for the use of most of my talents and hobbies and is a balance of mental and physical. Sadly, I work only 6 months out of the year, have no benefits, and have to take flak for being a "fed," but that's the nature of the beast. I'd like to make a career of it, but I also know the people "higher up" have less enjoyable jobs and are stuck in offices all day.

ozoneocean at 4:40AM, June 28, 2016

Money equals security but it also equals time, YOUR time. At one stage I was making a lot more money than I am now, I consciously gave that up for two reasons: 1. It was a job that had nothing to do what I was interested in 2. I didn't need that money, it was just piling up in my bank accounts like Walter White's stack of cash in his secret room, meanwhile I DID need the time! So I quit. Now that I travel a bit more and have more financial commitments I do miss hat extra income, but I don't regret the way I've used my time. You only have so much time in your life, so if you have a choice in the matter it's not a good idea to use it doing things that make you unhappy. - only IF you have a choice, and I did.

ozoneocean at 4:33AM, June 28, 2016

I work to support my passions, which I can do since I don't have kids... My money goes towards the things I love- travel, antique clothing, hats, feeding my cats, dates with attractive women, and Drunk Duck. Also helping out my friends... I would like more money to be able to help out my friends more.

Banes at 9:42AM, June 27, 2016

Yeah it is interesting how money becomes more important at certain points in life...but being "money centric" like kawaii discusses is an important thing to avoid. My brother recently faced a big choice - to take a year long job in his field that he knew he didn't like, that paid very well, or to take on a lower paid, creatively fulfilling gig that he actually wanted to do. He took the fulfilling option, thankfully, and there has not been an instant of regret. He has no children so it was practically a no brainer, despite some temptation. To force yourself into money centric choices when you don't HAVE to is a recipe for massive regret. Loved the article.

Bruno Harm at 6:34AM, June 27, 2016

Everything in moderation. It seems like everyone these days talks in extremes. The whole world is a grey area in between. Sure, the super competitive, make as much money as you can just for the sake of having a lot of money, sounds horrible. ACTUALLY STARVING also sounds horrible. I have worked really hard at really $#!#Y jobs my whole life to put food on the table for myself and my family. My motto is more "work to live, not live to work" I might not be happy at work, but I am really happy when I get home. And I have a house and food, and I can buy gifts for my sons Birthday. Money represents your works value to other people (before factoring in supply and demand), and your happiness (or mine)isn't worth a whole lot.

PaulEberhardt at 6:28AM, June 27, 2016

Money's definitely not everything - it is not even valuable in itself, what you use it for is all that matters; no way you can expect it to make you happy on its own. But having some sure lets you rest easier. So money isn't too bad for your well-being either. Besides, I wouldn't want to make a living with art - if I have to depend on people paying me for it, I kind of allow them to tell me what to draw (unless I get REALLY successful - and face it, how likely is that for a comic artist these days?). Thus it'd just eat up my time for doing what I want as much as any other job would. Not that I wouldn't generally appreciate people buying my stuff, though.

KimLuster at 5:01AM, June 27, 2016

Well... I dunno... I get this! I know this is just your reaction against people telling you to chase money, and I know you're not really suggesting everyone become the 'starving artist'! If you live for your art instead of money that's okay - It does sound sorta romantic and enticing. But we have to keep perspective too... Children need feeding, streets need cleaning, sewers unclogged, etc... There's a saying: "You can live for the music or you can live for yourself - you can't do both!" Once you have a family, they must become the priority. If you have a well-paying job that you don't like all that much, you better keep it if it keeps the roof over the heads and the pantries full! Being a starving artist is only for a select few. For the majority of us, art has to be a hobby. I admire those not money-centric and I know what you meant - I'm just showing a different perspective :)

HippieVan at 4:28AM, June 27, 2016

My dad says that he used to be very blasé about the concept of money, and didn't much care how much he made - until he had kids. And then it suddenly started to matter a whole lot. His advice has sort of gone in one ear and out the other though, as I've pretty much resigned myself to a life of perpetual poverty as a historian, haha. But for me it's less about not being money centric. I've never wanted to be wealthy, but I do like having money for new clothes and books and perfumes and whatnot. That's just outweighed by having a shot at doing what I love for a living.

bravo1102 at 3:47AM, June 27, 2016

The LACK of money is the root of all evil. So evil is actually a function of greed. But then you never have enough money especially if you are a homeowner or a parent.


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