RICHMOND, Va. -- For 25 years now, David Lasker's job has been capturing the lives of others. On a 90° Labor Day in Carytown, his hand-painted portraits of musicians and families line part of one block.
Lasker creates custom artwork for his customers.
"It's just a part of you that you find out it's the biggest part of you," he said of his artwork.
“I’m much more interested in other people than I am myself because I'm pretty boring," Lasker continued with a chuckle. "Present their loved ones through something that you feel through your eyes and your hands and present it to them, and then they have an emotional connection to it. It's pretty rewarding to see the joy in their eyes.”
The joy of the American worker this Labor Day is very much a mixed bag. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found only 51 percent of workers surveyed were "highly satisfied" overall.
On the positive side, work relationships are strong. The Pew study found that 67 percent of workers are satisfied with their co-workers, and 62 percent of them are satisfied with their managers. Meanwhile, the two lowest-scoring categories were wage satisfaction and growth opportunity, scoring 34 percent and 33 percent respectively.
On the broader economy, the unemployment rate remains at historically low levels, but the job market is also cooling off, experts said. Even though inflation is easing, experts said prices remain high, meaning any raises workers do get don't go nearly as far.
Lasker said there are obvious stresses of being self-employed.
"That's the hardest part is figuring out where to be," Lasker said. "I think about everything all at once and then I hush it up.”
Maybe, his Labor Day message to others is what he's learned through his canvas: nobody has ever asked him to paint them at work.
“Learn how to be a human being first. They ought to teach that in school," Lasker said. “We ought to do a better job about being connected to that first before we go out into the world and start conquering."
If you're interested in Lasker's work, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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