It's tough being a creative professional.
I'm not talking about the professional aspect - while getting a job can be challenging, they do exist, and for those with the right skillset easy enough to find.
No, it's more the creative aspect that troubles me sometimes - specifically, something which I'll describe as creative dishonesty.
I'm not talking about dishonesty in the traditional sense here - not plagiarism, or anything along those lines - but more of a perversion of a creative goal through bending to external forces.
Most of us have created something for the sheer joy of the creative process - whether doodling in a margin, or on some grand magnum opus.
It's this love of the creative pursuit that draws us to the creative industry - a pursuit of an aesthetic ideal, a purity and perfection we strive towards.
It sounds a bit high-art, airy-fairy, and I suppose it is - but nevertheless it's certainly a force that drives my own work.
So, creative dishonesty is a magnetic attraction to something other than this purity during a creative process - something which alters the nature of the work.
So, what are these influences? Ha, well - the major one should be fairly obvious. Money.
The 'starving artist' is an ascetic stereotype associated with devotion to the aesthetic - poverty being the consequence of pursuing an unprofitable avenue.
The real world is a harsh mistress, and demands tribute - bills to be paid, tools to be bought.
However, for most creative professionals sustaining a moderately comfortable lifestyle isn't too difficult - although this comes at a cost of a loss of creative control.
Working for somebody else, either in a salaried position or as a freelance sort, working for clients - shifts the focus from satisfying a higher aesthetic, to satisfying a superior.
It's an unfortunate but necessary tradeoff to sustain a living through creative pursuit.
Independent creatives normally have it easier - artists, musicians and writers can retain creative ownership of their work - but the insidious influence of profitability remains.
All too often, that which I'm driven to do is all too different from what I will do to sustain a living.
It's at such times that terms such as 'sell-out' are bandied about - a truly detestable term, and one that implies that artists and content creators should hold themselves to a higher regard then their audience might.
Nobody inhabits an office under someone else's employ for 8 hours every weekday because their creative soul and essence insists upon it. We do it because we have to, else face poverty and hardship.
So, is it bad to allow creative work to be influenced by money?
Assuredly not - a world with only the purest of art would be devoid of much, as you'd eliminate anything resembling pop culture with one fell swoop.
No television show would ever be commissioned without consideration for its audience, no film ever funded if it didn't kowtow a little to cinema's populist side.
There are exceptions, but they are few and far between.
Such influence isn't discrete, however - there's a sliding scale between this mythical aesthetic ideal, and a pure-for-profit work.
Most works fall somewhere in the middle, with some bearing greater influence than others.
And so, to a conclusion, of sorts - sadly no black-and-white resolution to be found.
Is it OK to permit money to influence your creative work? Absolutely - an artist needs to eat.
Is it better to limit money's influence? Absolutely - creative control is a valuable thing, and to produce something under freer constraints is better than with interference from one's paymasters.
Any true artist will feel the pull of the pure in doing their work - most of us aren't cold-hearted mercenaries.
Aside from the money, I get much more satisfaction from doing something unprofitable than I might when employed as a creative-for-hire.
We all do what we must; and a commissioned creative work that has the funding to see fruition is better than an idea that remains bound by some higher goal.
As with so many things, balance is the key to this compromise. Value the pure work you see, but don't disparage the profitable - they might yet fund something wonderful.