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DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Work

Work can be a deceptive concept for artists and people who create things from inspiration or passion. Unfortunately, I think we discount the value of effort when we are applying it to something we want to do and ascribe more value to the work if we hate doing it. I guess this links back to the origin or the word “work” and it being closely related to the concept of torture.” Yikes, that sucks.

Design is hard work, not torture, but it can be tough. It is one of those jobs that non-designers may think is easy or at least really fun. I will admit, there are moments where I’m really inspired and the lines between work and play blur. However, more often than not, I’m trying to interpret an ambiguous client request and come up with a solution that satisfies my clients expectations without sacrificing the integrity of the design. You’d be surprised how difficult this is to do sometimes, well maybe this crowd wouldn’t be surprised. I used to yell “you just don’t want good work!”, really loudly… in my head. Outwardly, I would say, “hmm interesting, tell me why you don’t think this works, and why you have always hated yellow.”

The difficulty of design work is further compounded by the fact that everyone has an opinion on design, and the less experienced someone is with the craft of design, the harder it is for them remain objective and think of the audience rather than their personal taste. I find that my passion and dedication connected with designing doesn’t make it easier, it makes the work harder. It keeps me from just giving in to apathy and saying “eh, this is good enough” or “well this is what they asked for”. I will keep obsessively toiling away trying to make it better or as good as it can be. I just can’t let go.

Although musicians don’t typically have to work with clients in the same way that designers do, they have their own challenges. Musicians often get a bad rap for being lazy or unmotivated and a perception exists that creating music isn’t real work or a legitimate job. Why, because it isn’t done in an office or there isn’t an inherent monetary value? Some of the hardest working people I know are musicians. As a musician you are constantly touring, performing, promoting, practicing, and often getting paid little to no money (unless you are Katy Perry). A lot of the musicians I know barely break even or lose money on tour. That’s a tough job. I think people see working musicians as a hobbyists, and therefore don’t acknowledge what they are doing as “real work”. Yet I don’t know anyone who doesn’t place a lot of value music, so why aren’t we valuing the creators of the music?

I prefer a definition of work based on dedication and effort invested, not the amount of suffering tolerated or monetary value of the output. I think as creative people we can all get behind that, right? Let’s hope we can be happy and productive, at least some of the time.

From working on the chain gang to working at the car wash,” whatever your working on, I hope this month’s Work Playlist helps to get you through the daily grind. If you like these playlists, follow me on Spotify and share them on Twitter. See you next month. Thanks for listening.

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