Chances are if you walk into a place that serves food an artist or a pre-med student will serve you—it could go either way. Point is, the food industry is a breeding ground for the working artist and creatives alike. It is where you will find me.
I like being the fly on the wall, the invisible creative.
I work part time as a server at a hotel to supplement my photography career. It is at times medial and physically taxing but it is a great place of solace from the headaches of running a 24-hour creative mind. It is also a place for me that inspires some of my best ideas. Polishing 300 forks by yourself gives you time alone with your thoughts. It is during some of these polishing bouts that I have conceived concepts for music videos, blog posts, ramblings in writing, and felt heartbreak with my own work and career.
A supplementary job can also suck because it can make you feel invisible to the outside world. Especially a job in the food industry at a business hotel; countless patrons come in to discuss propositions and quarterly figures. Meanwhile, you’re refilling their iced tea with two Stevias on the side. They don’t see you as the artist trying to have a creative breakthrough. You’re not the photographer jumping out of helicopters shooting models; you’re the guy making sure their steak is cooked medium well.
It is something I will miss; I like being the fly on the wall, the invisible creative. The voice in the dark, the nobody, unknown. True creatives are not into their craft for the fame, because that is the wrong reason to get into anything creative. True creative people, to me, are in it for process. It is the creative process that keeps us coming back to the drawing board, back to the darkroom, back to the empty canvas.
We need to create. We don’t need fame. Yes recognition is obliged, and is wonderful when it is from the right peers. So if I have to work this second job and stare out the window at the people walking by to be free creatively, I am content with it at the moment.
The food industry is somewhere not just artists but all people should work at some point in their life. “Slopping the slop,” as one of my college professors said, “puts priorities in perspective really quickly.” The next time you’re at a restaurant, really try to evaluate how important your extra helping of ranch for your salad is.
The most important thing I’ve taken away from this experience is to be grateful for this time in my career. When gigs start stacking up and I actually am able to quit this food industry job and fully immerse myself in my creative work due to the financial burdens being long gone, I will think of this time. It is the moments when we are hungry, thirsty and desperate to make something that will pay the electric bills that diamonds come out of the pressure. Being asked to create 24/7 gets exhausting. Having a moment to get away from that and polish some forks is a good escape from the constant swirling thoughts of projects and ideas in the mind.
Anybody need a refill?