I hear a lot of people complaining about how hard it is to make it work as a creative individual these days in Portland. They complain about how all the small venues where bands can cut their teeth are all gone. How all the small venues where artists who haven’t already built a name for themselves can show their work. They complain about how it’s getting harder and harder to find affordable spaces to do things in. But I’ve made it work as a successful creative person in Portland, so I don’t have any clue what they are talking about.
How did I get to be so successful? I’m glad you asked because I would like to share with the world, the secrets to how I got to be such a success.
First, and this is absolutely the most crucial step, so pay attention — be born to rich parents. If you want to succeed as an artist, you need to have a really fat pile of money to cushion your repeated failures when you’re first starting out. Either having a trust fund, or some sort of inheritance from a wealthy relative is absolutely crucial to this stage in your development as an artist. Don’t worry about having a voice, having anything to say, none of that matters. You need to have a solid economic foundation to start from before you can follow your dreams.
“But Zack” you’re saying, “Maybe you weren’t born to a rich family though. Maybe you grew up eating government cheese and never saw a doctor because your parents couldn’t afford it. What then?”
Not to worry! There’s still plenty of opportunity for you as a successful creative artist in Portland. Just follow this simple six step plan.
STEP ONE: Give Up On Your Dreams (temporarily). The first and most crucial step that you can take to achieving your ambitions is not to have any. You need to focus on taking care of your basic necessities first. Make sure you have enough food to eat. Make sure you have a roof over your head. As simple as it sounds, with the differences between the cost of living, and the money you can actually make as a laborer, this is a very thin tightrope you’ll have to walk. Don’t ever do anything fun, and always keep enough money in savings to cover the cost of your deductible on your shitty ACA plan that you were forced to purchase, just in case. As a poor person, money will control every aspect of your life. But how do you get money? That leads us to …
STEP TWO: Get a Soul Crushing Job To Support Yourself.
The second most important step you can take as a creative individual is to make sure that you have the resources available to you to pursue your artistic endeavor. Making art takes money. No matter what it is you’re looking to do, you are going to need money to do it. Where is that money going to come from? You think there’s some guy who is just going to walk up to you and hand you a briefcase full of money to write your next album? Some nice lady is just going to give you free access to an artist studio where you can paint your paintings all day? Sorry to break it to you, but, that isn’t ever going to happen. Nobody is going to make your dreams happen for you, including you- because you have to be at work every day at 8am, and when you get home, you’ll be too tired to do anything. By the time you are finally able to come home, you’re exhausted, and can barely manage to microwave leftover macaroni and cheese casserole and flop into bed so you can be rested enough to do it all over again tomorrow. This stage in your creative project is really hard to deal with, but try drinking alcohol to excess and using drugs to help numb the pain of your cruel and meaningless existence.
STEP THREE: Move out of Portland. It’s way to expensive for losers like you to live here anyways! You’re getting older now, and you don’t want to still be living in a 3 bedroom apartment with two strangers when you’re 45, so justifiably, you start to panic. After you’ve spent about a decade at your soul crushing job saving up money to make your dreams come true for that creative project you’ve always wanted to start working on, think instead about buying property outside of Portland and commuting to your job. If you’ve actually managed to save up enough money to put a down payment in the exurbs of Portland, do it as soon as you can, because property values are only going up. Especially with all the broke artists and musicians moving to the cheap places and making them desirable. Better get in while the property is still cheap (relatively speaking). Once you’ve moved out of the city, you might think to yourself, “finally! I don’t have to worry about pissing off the other people in the building with my band rehearsal, because I’ve got my own house!” Not so fast there brother. You don’t have time for that yet, because you’ve still got to…
STEP FOUR: Pay off Your Mortgage, and Student Debt
You didn’t use your degree to get a single one of the string of low-paying jobs you’ve had over the last 20 years, but you still are saddled with the debt you accrued getting that piece of paper. Since you have been earning so little this whole time, you were able to get Income Based Repayment, but that only means that your debt of $40k has ballooned to $250k by now. And yet, somehow somebody at the bank approved your mortgage? Crazy right? Most mortgages are about 30 years long. You could opt for a more aggressive payment, but many banks actually don’t want you to pay off your mortgage quicker, because they want you to accrue even more debt. Not that it matters, since you can barely afford the monthly payments as it is anyways. When you finally pay off all the debt you accrue you’ll finally be able to…
STEP FIVE: Retire (not really).
You might think that in the golden years of your life it’s too late to start your lifelong pursuit of some sort of artistic endeavor. You might think that your soul has been so painfully crushed at this point you’ve got nothing worthwhile left to say. You might think that its pointless to try to learn to play guitar or learning to paint, because your withered arthritic hands would have too much trouble shaping and fretting the chords, or properly gripping the brush. But you’d be so incredibly wrong. This is actually still too early to start pursuing your artistic ambitions!
Now that you’re free from debt, you aren’t yet out of the woods! You still have to support yourself, so get back into the workforce with another entry level position! The technology you understand is totally obsolete at this point and all the jobs you could actually do and earn a comfortable living at are totally out of your reach intellectually at this point, unless you want to go back to school for another 8 years– but you just finished paying off your student loans.
You’re now collecting social security, but since your monthly payment is determined by how much you paid in while you were in the workforce, you get punished for your lifelong string of low-wage jobs with a cruelly meager amount of money that barely covers the cost of one week of groceries. Your next big adventure is to go become a part-time greeter at Wal-Mart and enjoy your cat food din din while you struggle to survive on a fixed income.
STEP SIX: Die.
After decades of pointless toiling and struggling just to stay alive, you’ve finally made it to the end of the line! Congratulations are in order. Surely there must be some sort of reward at the end of all of this right? Well, there is– it’s the sweet release of death. Free from your mortal coil, and with it, all the socially manufactured restraints of economics which force you into the service of a mindlessly self-perpetuating system of oppression, you can finally get to work on your big creative project! Now get out there and get creative!