“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
- Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was able to develop art-making into a very successful business, but we’ve heard of many great artists who sold hardly anything in their lifetimes.
Stories of starving artists seem to have more currency in literature and the media than the many examples of artists who prosper, and that image can fuel distorted and limiting ideas about being a creative person, even if you aren’t yet an “artist” (however you define that).
The photo is Ewan McGregor in “Moulin Rouge” as Christian, at his typewriter – an impoverished poet drawn to the Bohemian life of Montmartre.
One of the ideas about artists that I list in my post Artists are Crazy; Mothers Can’t Be Artists, and Other Myths is that “Artists must be poor and sacrifice their well-being for their art.”
These kinds of ideas and myths have also been discussed by Julia Cameron (“The Artist’s Way”) and Alyson B. Stanfield – an art business consultant who “helps artists, galleries, and organizations gain more recognition, organize their businesses, and sell more art.”
Visit her site for the book, plus workshops, programs and free resources: ArtBizCoach (“Helping Artists Sell More Art”).
Her book title – “I’d rather be in the studio” – is something many creative people can relate to – I know I do: I would rather be writing than concerned with marketing.
If you create just for your own pleasure and mental health, that is of course fine. But if you want to get your creative work seen and acknowledged, and have it financially support your life, you need to see yourself as a creative entrepreneur.
I was reminded of this topic by my ongoing struggles to earn a living from my writing and various online sites, and by reading an article by business coach Kendall SummerHawk, in which she notes we may have inherited “beliefs and values about money that have been handed down for generations.
“Which is great if your family’s money history was free from turmoil, secrecy or difficulties.
“Unfortunately, what’s more likely true is that the money habits and mindset you inherited are keeping you from realizing your value.”
SummerHawk offers several tips which have helped her grow into a multi-million dollar coaching business – including finding someone “you can model who is successful and who lives the values and lifestyle you admire and appreciate.”
Read more in her article Is your family’s money legacy keeping you from growing your biz?
Do what you love – or at least find interesting
Katherine Hepburn once said, “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”
That quote, and the image, come from the article Those “Crazy” Business Ideas Often Turn Out to Be the Best, by career change mentor Valerie Young, PhD.
Her company is ChangingCourse – “Live life on purpose – Work at what you love – Follow your own road”
She notes that entrepreneurial ventures can be a satisfying and financially successful way to realize your creative abilities.
See a list of articles by Valerie Young.
Marc Allen comments in his book The Millionaire Course: A Visionary Plan for Creating the Life of Your Dreams, “You’ll have difficulty succeeding as an artist – however you define that success – if you ignore the world of business and refuse to be a ‘businessperson.’
“Every great artist who has succeeded doing their art has been a success in business, either by taking the reins themselves and managing their own career or by working with someone else who takes those reins and takes responsibility for the success of your work. You don’t have to sell your soul to succeed as an artist. In fact, your success only expands the impact of your soul, the vision of your art, into the world.”
Ego and identity
Peter Tjeerdsma, president of the Association of Transformative Media Arts, has noted:
“Fear of success is a bit of a cliché, but truly, all too often the ego has become subtly identified with the struggle – being the underdog, the starving artist, the wage slave, the underfunded entrepreneur, or even the stressed-out executive. Becoming truly powerful requires that we see the ways in which we sabotage ourselves, and take the time we need to heal the damage.”
[From my article Women of Talent - Power and Leadership.]
Scrapping The Starving Artist Mythology
“I love breaking the myth of the starving artist. That is such a lie that people tell artists from the day they are born, and it’s so sad that so many artists psych themselves out with this myth.” Musician Magdalen Hsu-Li.
Creative business consultant Lisa Sonora Beam writes in her book “The Creative Entrepreneur” about the variety of challenges that creative people face in developing a piece of artwork, a small business, or themselves as a writer or other artist – the central element of a creative endeavor.
She notes people may “experience a kind of mythic divide” between their creative work and business practicalities. This split can create tension and even trauma for the creative soul who is blessed with passion and purpose yet cursed by the seemingly mysterious realm of strategies and skills that are necessary to make an idea real.”
Read more in article: Lisa Sonora Beam On Success As A Creative Entrepreneur.
This image is from the information page about her online workshop Dreaming on Paper: The Creative Sketchbook – “how to create without fear of the blank page, learning how to play and make a happy mess without fear of doing it wrong or not doing it perfectly.”
She says “the true secret to my success as an artist and creative entrepreneur has to do with just one thing: Creative Practice.
“The secret is not in your products, services, packaging, messaging, pricing, and the other details we get hung up on when trying to earn a living from our art. The secret is in having a Creative Practice.”
From her online course Creative + Practice.
How do you think about being creative in relation to business or financial success?
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Last reviewed: 16 Jan 2014