"The Tense Duality" that governs every creative career

[Exhibit A: My more personal side]

[Exhibit B: the gapingvoid mission]

One of the better things I ever wrote was The Sex And Cash Theory, something to explain how to realistically balance the need to pay the bills with the need to do something creative with your life. It ended up being a key idea in Ignore Everybody.

“The crea­tive per­son basi­cally has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, crea­tive kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Some­ti­mes the assign­ment covers both bases, but not often.”

“This tense duality (between these two extremes) will never be transcended.” Even if I know that to be true (Hell, I pretty much wrote an entire book on it),  most days I still struggle with it.

But we all do, artist or non-artist, creative or non-creative. “This tense duality” is what one of mankind’s great books,  The Bhagavad Gita is also really all about: Poor ol’ Arjuna would like nothing better than a quiet life of spiritual contemplation, but his duties as an up-and-coming  warlord keep getting the way.  So Heavenly Lord Krisna comes down from On High and tells Arjuna, well, get used to it, Kiddo. This tense duality is in the DNA of Creation. Hence the Dharma, hence Karma. By the end of the book, Arjuna “gets” it. Happy Ending.

My personal “tense duality” is a lot less tense than it used to be, Thank God. It used to be “silly advertising day job by day, drawing silly cartoons on the backs of business cards for fun by night”. Now the duality is more, my wee “business card doodles” on the personal side (See photo above), the external side is the “Transform Office Art mission (See video above) that gapingvoid is on.

And I’ve grown to treasure the duality. Every time I’ve  tried to permanently wear just one hat,  the personal hat or the business hat, I get bored silly within a week. The work seems to need the constant dialogue between the inner and outer.

But like I said, I think we all have that. Finding that sweet spot where that never-ending dialogue can exist happily forever, is one of THE great tasks (and gifts) our brief life gives us.

I hope you’ve found yours.



  1. the Bhagavad Gita has wonderful lessons. Read it first year in college and still using 6 yrs later. also hugh, i always carry a notebook to begin my cartoons, but you inspired me to carry a couple index cards. that way I can draw or give a few words, then hand it to someone
    p.s.enjoyed Ignore Everyody! passed it to an employee of mine

  2. Despite the fact that I agree with you, wholeheartedly, that there will always be that tension….I can not but help still wishing with all my might that I could spend my day doing the sexy things and not having to do any of the not-as-much-fun cash things. :-)

  3. I can definitely attest to the tension that exists between doing things that make money and those that I really like. And almost on a daily basis! I end up shutting both voices up and tell myself to focus on my customers instead. :)

  4. Hi Hugh. Firstly, thanks! You’ve inspired me over the last year and given me the confidence to publish my cartoons. I read Ignore Everybody and Freedom is Blogging in your underwear; they got me off my arse and I got a blog going and have just launched my first WebComic. My work part of the creative duality is being a teacher which pays the bills and gives me the hols to follow my muse. Cheers, Rob

  5. […] Then I saw a post by Hugh over at Gapingvoid. “The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.” […]