SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 199: “Gold… Pure Gold”

“It’s like a near death experience on a daily basis… It’s comedy…! Pure comedy!”

An expression that has captured my ear in speaking with two alumni’s of where I studied, both of whom prefer to remain anonymous.

I run into them as I return rented equipment to an unspecified renal house. It’s Sunday, its cold, its rainy and its damp, and with that I welcome the opportunity to escape the downpour to talk life shop in what becomes a mixture of the sarcastically funny to the economically difficult aspects of a career in the arts.

I won’t mention names, but I have been instructed to let you know of their ages, and in honoring my promise to protect identities we will call our new friends “Red Vans,” age thirties, and “Blue Sneakers,” age twenties.

Red Vans is the catalyst to our conversation; we’ll call her Red from here on. She tells me of the day. “Boy, you caught us on a bad day to interview. There have hardly been any customers and we are not in the best mood.”

Yet Red delivers this news with a sense of approachability. “That’s what makes the project so real, people however they are, and I’m sure you guys have something to say,” I reason.

“Alright, but you can’t photograph us… we have not done our hair,” Red kicks back with an infectious laugh.

“Hey, I need to have a photo to prove you are real.” I playfully harass.

“OK, you can shoot our feet.”

The banter has begun, and readers, welcome to the world of two emerging artist and my new friends.

By the way the above near death linked to comedy comparison… its Red humor.

And a humor I am beginning to understand is protective cynicism.

Red gives a bit of instruction to all emerging artists, “Read in between the lines always. Whether business, a loan, a job, a school or a person.”

Fairly sobering advice; advice that Blue Sneakers (Blue from here on) rapidly picks up on; and with the ten-year generation gap, it is interesting to bind their two responses.

Blue quotes, “Don’t even wait for anybody and don’t let anyone control your destiny.”

The point I see in both of their reasoning’s is this. As artists we have to listen to our internal selves in finding a way to perceive the world through our own unique eyes.

Let’s look at it in a theatrical context:
The Protagonist: Personal view of the world through a self-created emotional filter, linked to one’s ability own actual life experience.

The Antagonist: All the opinion, responsibilities and comparisons that are thrust upon us on a daily basis, or the one we self create through our own self-doubt.

Like Red proclaims, “It’s comedy…! Pure comedy!”

Link that to Blues, “Don’t let anyone control your destiny,” and you have the basic cocktail to the perseverance it takes to make a mark in the artistic world.

“I’m a free spirit that can’t be broken,” Red smiles as she goes on in telling me of her substantial student loan debt. A conversation that leads me to ask, “What would you advise anyone considering pursuing a career in photography?”

“Marry rich…! Just kidding!” she blurts out as she organizes the store inventory in preparing for the close of the day.

Just then a customer enters to pick up a rental order, and half a dozen credit cards (several needed to meet to deposit requirements) later, the tone is set for the continuation of the topic.

“Here is what I would really say,” Red resumes, “If you don’t mind living within your true means… Go for it!

Red is certainly not a negativist, actually she is very astute, confidant and cynically realistic.

“They never told us at school that the market would be so over saturated. They did instruct us that it would be extremely difficult, but they did not communicate just how many photographer there really are out there,” both Red and Blue express in a united voice.

We talk of the history of the industry and relate it to the future of the trade. My conclusion, and words to all of us in the craft of story telling or art creation, “There will always be a place for the those who have something to say.”

Like I’ve said, “I’m a hopeless optimist.”

And optimism is the platform I will always stand. However in all growth there is trial, successes and failures. Otherwise, how could one truly dig deep enough to connect with individual self? The world will always conspire in some way to pull you off track. The temptations surround us and we are literally attacked with endless input the moment we open our sleeping eyes. Some steer us in the path to light, and others drag us into darkness. But that is the wonderment of the process. The fullest outcome is unknown, but for those of us who embrace the journey, and find the way to filter the difficulties, as well as the shallow hypes, perhaps are the ones who become the genius of tomorrow.

Blue talks of the misuse of technology and of it effects on society, “The internet and social media has affected life as I see it. I can compare it to some of the job interviews I’ve been on. When I was there I saw how so many of the eighteen and nineteen year olds could not interact face-to-face.

After that, I canceled my Facebook account. So what about what my friends are having for lunch, I’d rather talk in person.”

We’ve talked often of the responsible use of the new world of communication. Of it’s power and use in reaching out, and of its seductive grasps into a virtual word of digital isolation.

I’ll not group all tech users into any one category, or not segment any specific age demographic, for I have met some amazing youth in my travels. But I will make the claim as does Blue, “Look at people, talk and interact, for in that you will find the secret of life.”

“I’m not sure what will happen in the future… Maybe there will be a lot of people living in apartments trying to pay off their student loans.” Blue expresses.

Both Blue and Red are artists, living the artist’s life, and my hope for them is that they find their voice.

Blue smiles as we reach the end of the day, “I saved for cable and now I can watch Mad Men… I’m so excited!”

Make’s me think of the little pleasures, and of how, with the acquisition of things, status and of life’s positioning’s, the more we sometimes forget.

Red speaks of what ahead, “It’s going to be a hard ten years with the current state of worldly affairs.”

Followed by, and in magnificent Red form, “It’s going to be gold… pure gold!”

I like the thought of a golden future.

Let’s all hang on for the ride, “We are in this thing together!”