First off – hello! It’s been a while. I’ve been spending my time podcasting and writing over at PermissionLESS, but I’m glad to be back here!
Let’s talk about that “starving artist” thing for a few… you know, that thing where everyone says you’re not really a creative or an artist if you’re making money either with your work, or sustaining yourself in another way that isn’t related to art. I’m in Los Angeles where a lot of people equate suffering with art, and feel that they’re not fully devoted to their craft unless they’re pursing it at all costs to the point where money becomes a secondary thought.
I do think there’s a place we can go creatively when we’re trying to make ends meet, and sometimes it’s the only option for a while when you’re pursuing something you love, but I don’t think we should live there. Here’s why.
As artists, we can’t create if we’re constantly suppressed by the thought of where our next paycheck will come from, or if our time is sucked away by taking any job in the space we can because we need the cash. We have a finite block of time here, and we can never leave room for the HELL YES opportunities if we’re always choosing the “shit, I need to make ends meet” opportunities. This applies for entrepreneurs and those in business as well.
And I get it — sometimes we need to do those things and sometimes an opportunity can present itself, but we also need to value our own time, creative talents, and sanity at a much higher level.
Many artists don’t operate by this motto. They think it’s dirty to make money and you should never compromise your art for cash. That only a true artist would rather live well below their means over thriving; because thriving means you must have given into “the man” and are chasing money over creativity.
Creativity and money can coexist. Show business is a business. Content is a business. The sooner we understand this, the more success we’ll be comfortable finding success.
There’s a phrase I loathe, and that phrase is sell-out. I’m sure you’ve accused your old favorite bands of selling out when they ventured into new territory and pivoted with the industry so they can continue to make less and less money thanks to our ever-changing tastes and the introduction of streaming music. I’m sure there’s a friend out there you would classify as a sell-out because they took a job to make money when they’re supposed to be a die-hard creative that says “fuck the man!” and scrapes by.
After years of feeling like I was a sell out because of choosing to build a consultancy and create business opportunities while also building my dream in the entertainment industry, I realized that I’m in a fortunate place. I can choose my auditions and stories that set my heart on fire. I can also put my cash behind stories that I feel really need to be told.
I don’t have to operate from scarcity. When we operate from scarcity, we have a tendency to take opportunities out of fear and waste our own time. I would rather have FULL control of my opportunities than leave it up to chance just because I’m afraid that I don’t fit the bill of a traditional creative, and because I worry that other artists won’t like me. I felt like this for a while, and I had a tendency to minimize myself on the business side when talking to others in the entertainment industry. I realized I was doing this because of what I stated above – I would constantly worry that other artists wouldn’t take me seriously.
That’s fine. Because I’ve come to realize that all the things I feared other creatives would hate about me, is actually my biggest asset. I want to create and operate from a feeling of abundance and a clear head. We have no reason to fear success and money. If we learn to have it without being controlled by it, we’re in the sweetest spot EVER as creatives. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like a sell out or that you’re not a true artist because you don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and feed into the “starving artist” myth.
I’ve also realized that we can authentically be multiple people. Just because I’m a consultant and run a business, doesn’t mean that I’m not simultaneously an artist and creative. It doesn’t lessen my capabilities as either/or. Just because you choose to build a business or side hustle to support your creative career, it doesn’t mean you’re a sell out. If you happen to be great at both things, it doesn’t mean
These things are not mutually exclusive; in fact one can argue that the artist and creative who fully understands the business side and puts their needs first can often create their own seat at the table instead of waiting for others to give it to them.
I guess what I’m trying to get to here in this big ol’ rant of mine is a few things:
- You can do multiple things, authentically, in order to make your life as a creative more fulfilling.
- Artists and creatives can and should make money.
- Operating from scarcity can hurt our creativity. Operating from abundance let’s us take control of our opportunities and find HELL YES opportunities that set us on fire.
Are you giving up your seat at the table? Or are you actually building the table, and your own damn seat?