Young, Broke, and Creative
By Alex Fulton
The story goes like this:
At an early age you were mesmerized. A dancer moved in a way you’d never seen a body move. A singer made sounds with her mouth you’d never heard. You saw a movie, a photograph, a musical, and you got this electric feeling down your spine and synapses lit up across your brain like Roman candles.
Endorphins washed into your bloodstream like a hurricane.
You said “I want to do THAT.”
Your parents got you into a club, a studio, a class. You took lessons. You met other people who saw what you saw and wanted what you wanted. You made deep bonds with them.
As you approached adulthood, you were introduced to some pragmatic thoughts about your passion. Apply it to a commercial profession to make a living. Keep it as a hobby while you pursue something more stable and lucrative. Put away childish things.
And by one such avenue you and your passion entered adulthood with some means of paying bills. A surgeon, dancing hip-hop every Thursday night in a class. An advertising art director applying her personal aesthetic to retail commercials. A bartender painting bold and uncensored scenes in the hours before a double shift.
And there we all sit with some degree of compromise between reality and the art inside us.
One of my favorite things about doing MTDSM (the show’s initials… not to be confused with MDMA) is that you get to see that dichotomy, and what creative solutions people come up with to feed and nurture and grow the art inside of them.
Gastor plays out about six days a week, and runs a kickass podcast (Stoops2Stages. Check it out!), but also manages property and works as a sales manager for Pepsico. On top of all that he’s a family man with a wife and two kids! Paco teaches seventh grade math, but then keeps his chops sharp by fostering this community of young artists in an after-school club, who challenge him every day in his art. Alex Coe works a 9-5 retail gig part of the week, then draws the tourists to his open guitar case like flies to honey in an unforgiving forum that tests his stage abilities every time he takes the platform. Jordan King plays out several times a week but on the off days she’s a hair stylist, and I would bet a damn good one if her own aesthetic is any indication. Some artists mix cocktails in trendy bars from Friday to Sunday, leaving the week free to create. Some teach music lessons to Park Slope preschoolers. Some sell drugs baked into rice crispy treats.
Chris Carr of Parnhash & Coe has one of the most symbiotic relationships between making a living and making art that I’ve seen. He balances creating with hosting events for creators. When he’s not working on his music or photography (“mostly nudes” he told me. If you get the chance to see his work, it’s really something to behold!), he’s hosting open mic nights, showcases, festivals, art shows, and dominatrix parties at his event space, GAMBA Forest. From an outsider’s perspective, it feels like he never leaves the world of his art, and I admire the hell out of that.
Not all of us have reached that level of cohesion between covering expenses and making art without compromise though, and most days it feels like perpetual tug-of-war. But every month I meet a new group of artists of varying disciplines who work tirelessly to find that fulfillment. The young, broke and creative. The hustlers. To everyone who remembers that first spine tingle and lives every day for the next one, I dedicate the April content on MTDSM to you!