Sex and Cash Theory

Mar 7, 2016 / Photography / Influences / how to be creative

A man crying during business meeting presentation, being judged by people who turn out to be versions of himself
Doubt. Cyanotype Print with Digital Drawing, 2013. 9.6” x 17”. Limited edition of 12. © Jonah Calinawan

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Here’s another article that has greatly influenced my work and thinking. This one is from Hugh McLeod, elegantly titled the Sex and Cash Theory. I’ve shared this idea since 2012 after reading Hugh McLeod’s book, Ignore Everybody; and 39 Other Keys to Creativity (affiliate link). It has a lot of staying power.

I’ve always thought that in order to be an artist, I had to leave my current job and do art full-time, but there are many financial risks with this approach. I still have to eat, save for retirement, have healthcare, etc. As I was producing work every week during my MFA program, I realized that I could do it. I could continue like that forever. I could have a day job (cash) and at the same time produce work every weekend (sex). I wouldn’t have to have a drastic change in my life. Hugh McLeod’s article helped me accept that I could be an artist, and at the same time be an accountant. McLeod’s advice on having a divided life did a mind-meld on me:

As soon as you accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way- who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy job and moving straight on over to best-selling author. Well, they never make it.

An unexpected thing came out of this advice. I found that -both- my careers moved ahead faster. I was promoted twice at my day job over the last couple of years. I had a show in China and been selected in competitive juried shows throughout the United States. I attribute these developments to the fact that I’m more “whole” than before. I apply art to my day job and my day job to my art. All aspects of my life are beginning to be integrated, consolidated. Both careers benefit as a result. It’s an interesting result. It’s something I didn’t even anticipate. By being who you really are, you become an appreciated member of the groups you participate in.

So there you have it. Hugh McLeod’s Sex and Cash Theory. As McLeod says, “keep it under your pillow.”

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