I claim this title as copyrighted for a book I'll eventually write someday.
Six months ago, on April 19th of 2019, I quit my full-time job in order to pursue the life of a full-time artist. Today is the anniversary of my last day of work! As I review these months, I recall my weekly schedule included:
-Starting a business (taxes, anyone?)
-Rebranding Juggler & Mime
-Eating burgers WAY too often
-Writing new films with Drawbridge Collective
-Directing "The Importance of Being Earnest"
-Performing with Lalo's Lunchbox
-Cleaning my clothes (not often enough)
-Performing at the Twin Cities Clown Cabaret
-Auditioning and applying for "paying" work (LOL)
-Assistant Directing 2 shows at the Children's Theatre Company
-Managing my online identity
-Performing in a web series for Eaglebrook Church
-Making videos for ACR Homes as a contractor
-Making videos for myself for some reason
-Making videos for The Curiosita: An Arts Collective because it's fun
-Performing at the MN Opera
-Working at Red Cow as a host (AKA, I'm saying "Hi" to strangers and I LOVE it)
-Being married (insert additional love tasks here)
-Maintaining friendships (hopefully it's working?)
-Going to church
-Sleeping (no, for real, I actually am)
-Cooking (haha, no)
-Battling my mental health
-and probably more...
One of those things, shooting "Road Trip with Josh and Beka" for Eaglebrook Church's summer kids series, introduced me to a large vulnerability in my otherwise "flawless" action plan for life (see above). Here's a particularly fun episode of said show, where we drank smoothies made out of abnormal things, like bacon and seaweed:
P.S. IT TASTED SO BAD
Creating this show really caused me to ponder my life as an actor, because I haven't felt like the most incredible performer. In fact, while watching these episodes with Ladyfriend, we agreed that moments of my performance feel contrived and forced.
This is a show FOR KIDS and a show FOR A CHURCH. Those are two GINORMOUS constraints on the script and on our playfulness. Beka and I often said "oh my gosh" or "darn it" or "shoot" during the improvised sections, and those takes are deemed unusable. It makes sense, but golly, does that simple dimple block our creative arteries sometimes. Those guys at Veggietales make it look so easy!
Additionally, parts of the script are only slightly altered between episodes (we introduce the Checkpoint Challenge and Rush Hour segments differently each time, but they're ALMOST the same). That means our line memorization muscle memory is untrustworthy. CURSES.
The biggest thing I had to come to terms with, however, is my work ethic as an actor and as an artist. Weekly episodes forced us to memorize lines over the weekend, which is a time I've grown accustomed to NOT DOING ANYTHING... Because it's the freaking weekend.
Then. When you're shooting an episode about trying to be perfect and failing while attempting to put on a perfect performance of said perfection fail that you haven't practiced enough, you end up in a personal meta-trail of perfection/failure, and your brain realizes the writers are writing about YOU and you get super self-conscience and unable to make healthy decisions. It's like Knight's Quest in real life.
This proved to me, I have had low discipline as an actor.
Working as a freelancer has proven that my self-discipline, work-life balance ethics, lifestyle, and other important buzzwords in the business world have been WAY out of balance. Probably because college taught me that burnout is the best.
When I started Assistant Directing for the Children's Theatre Company, I really wanted to learn from top-notch professionals how they make such excellent work.
[SUBNOTE: I also wanted to get a look inside the company on what they're doing to clear up some of their past mistakes; but this is not the place to discuss that. If you're interested in this, then message me privately!]
One of the things I learned from observing the actors is just how hard they work. Long days, odd hours, constant script changes, expectations to play your best at all times, emotional and physical exhaustion from giving out ideas and not holding them preciously, with loads of work outside rehearsal. They showed me that it's not just talent, but a disciplined effort and an unattached perspective on your personal contribution that makes excellence.
It's not just talent, but a disciplined effort and an unattached perspective on your personal contribution that makes excellence.
When it comes to making a living in any creative field, I find that to be true. You need discipline, you need to show up for the work every day and give it all you've got. And in order to do that, you need to balance your life with time management so you don't burn out, and continue to live. Art is, after all, an imitation and a mirror to reality. You cannot live by art alone. You must eat, sleep, work, play, believe, and grow tomatoes or something. That requires you to face your vulnerability. Sometimes, you need to ask for help (most of the time, actually). You also have to realize, like a great role model of mine once said:
To conclude, I was with a friend eating my favorite pork nachos the other day at Bryant Lake Bowl, and it came up that being "an artist" is like being a hamster. If you give a hamster too much space in its cage, it will be too afraid to go out of its little hole and eat the food. If you don't give it enough space, it will atrophy from not using its muscles. If you give it just enough space, it will survive. But, if you love it, then you'll not only give it the right amount of space, but you'll give it one of those squeeky wheels or those rainbow pleasure tubes, and it will gain courage to explore and grow and thrive, like the privileged little creature it is.
And thus, the successful artist is like a privileged hamster. It is not enough to survive; one must run the wheels of life.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post! If you want to know more about what I'm up to on a regular basis, check out my Instagram @joshiepalms
See you next time! Be glad and confident.
Actor, Director, Creator, Dork