In which I ponder what it means to be an artist and an inter-species surrogate dad.
There’s been a bit of an endemic polemic lately among vermilion bubblators regarding the influx of kiddie and pet photos on the site and how these
are contributing to the lowering of quality. And that’s got me thinking–well, actually it hasn’t, but it has got me writing. About the value of pets, particularly to obsessive-compulsive creative types, a.k.a. artists.
Nicole Ritchie recently confided to me about her childhood as an orphan raised by a pod of dolphins, and how this auspicious beginning helped her find an inner porpoise later in life. So, as you see, even skinny megatalented celebrities have reaped benefits via their contact with the animal kingdom.
But let’s consider what it means to “keep” pets. For starters, I believe it is incredibly discriminatory. If I were the Leader Of The World, I’d allow pets the same overseas travel rights as any man, woman or Halliburton CEO. Surely an animal has the same right as any human to experience prowling the Eiffel Tower and mauling French? Why moggies and doggies are “kept” like a refugee trying to enter Australia is beyond me, but there you go.
The pet owners I chatted with seem to think we in the artistic sector are less precious about our pets when compared with non-creatives, but I dunno. I have a beautiful pussy that I brush daily.
Rufus & His Pet – both showing the benefits of daily brushing
Every idiot knows that if you are an artist and an animal lover (don’t confuse this term with a sex-club customer) then keeping a pet is good for you. Not just because they eat the crappy leftovers from your lousy cold Meals on Wheels dinner. (Or 2Minute Noodles if you’re fancy and like to eat Italian.) They also provide companionship, responsibility, stability and an extra source of food and art supplies should you find yourself cut short pre-welfare day. This unfortunate circumstance may happen more often thanks to Western society’s trend towards social-services “reform” measures and budget cuts to arts funding. Nothing says “underground artist” quite as succinctly as a cat in a crock-pot. Perhaps Glenn Close had it right, after all (with apologies to Angel and Buddy–you know who you are).
I spoke with several artsy bumpkins about their pet experience. (Welcome to my anecdotal evidence section). All agree owning a pet is generally a good thing for them. They have either canines, felines, or vermin, but don’t take this to mean, if you are a creative type, these are the only pets to choose from. I guess most pet stores don’t have a huge stock of Corsican Snails or Wandering Albatrosses (commonly known as the Kirsty Ally of the animal kingdom), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one. I spent three years in a dress miming to Kate Bush – trust me, make your own rules in life.
Every artist—without exception—has said that a household pet is a wonderful companion, a giver of unconditional love and taker of unconditional meals, and something better to come home to than an empty room full of unfinished paintings.
We also agree owning a pet helps us cope with angst; one mate even says his pet dog has helped him come to terms with the death of his partner. Exactly how Pooch got him through the heartache I’m not sure, but I wasn’t curious or perverse enough to ask.
A definite advantage mentioned by my focus group is that a dog can walk itself—helpful on low energy too much lithium not enough inspiration days. Another advantage is the texturing effect shed hair or random tail swipes can add to a drying canvas. And a loved pet doesn’t care if your last series was really, really bad, or even good. All are seen on equal terms through the adoring eyes of your petty pal.
A common disadvantage everyone mentioned is the cost of food and vet bills if living solely off an art income. How good it would be to get help with meeting those bills. Arte you listening, grants assessors? My cat and I are in desperate need of a residency in Madrid. ¡Pronto!
Whatever the pet, whatever the creative field you lumber through, all humans and artists I spoke with agree: pets rule, no matter where you are or your circumstances. Go get one now. And as tempting as a redbubble upload is, please keep the photos to yourself as best you can.
Scat, Cat! 6
feline faeces and synthetic polymer paint on paper
Thanks to Susan Grissom for the inspiration