The presence of choices in life leads to inevitable dilemmas. Black, white, grey or psychedelic? Yesterday, today, tomorrow or never? Heart, mind, spirit or nothing? Whereas we may be thankful to have such choices to choose from, we are often left wishing for no regrets.

A dilemma commonly faced by artists is the choice between life and living; whether to pursue their art full time and make a life or to resort to regular jobs to make a living. In Pakistan, I was able to simplify this decision – keep your head down and not get attacked, bring home a pay check and use it to rent a big space and have my own studio; a studio where I could create art, late at nights after long days of pay check justification. In Canada, however, the dilemma has found me once again, leading to many arguments between me and myself.

The West stands above others, if not in the quality of its art, then definitely in the appreciation of it. There are grants, exhibitions, artists’ co-ops, shared studio spaces, art collectors and buyers. In Toronto only, there are artists of all levels and kinds who are making a living out of their work, whether sufficient or not is another question. This is a whole new playing field where although competition is mighty but opportunities are plenty. But on the flip side is my need to support a family in one of the most expensive cities in the world. What I was paying for a beautiful 600 square yards house in Islamabad, I am paying 3 times more for a 55 square yards apartment in Toronto. The financial imparity has conveniently transformed my sufficient life savings into insufficient survival money. In short, immigration has surely knocked the profession of art out of me, at least for now.

With this pseudo impasse facing me, I continue to search for non-art jobs and crave for monthly pay checks. If I could earn better, I could get a space better. If I get a space better, I could create my art better. If I create my art better, I could be happier. The justifications for the easier choices in life are abundant.

In order to not be so hard on myself, I attempted to continue my ‘Project Small’ with a photo that has as its subject the only interview suit I have invested in since my move to Canada. As obvious as it may sound, this is called ‘The Interview Suit’. The pun in this is intended.

Interview suit-4

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