I’m very keen to get artists out of the gutter and into positive cash flow. I think as creatives we’ve been sold some big, bad myths that keep us stuck in negative self judgement, deflating self talk and a poverty conscious mindset. Today I want to debunk 2 of those.
The “Don’t Give up Your Day Job” Myth.
This is an insipid little expression when it comes to carving out a life as a creator. What is usually used as a jokey put down for the average person, for an arts practitioner is a dangerous turn of phrase playing into the poverty conscious cycle that so many artists are trapped in. Bandied about as if giving up your day job means you’re good at what you do and a success and not giving it up equates to being a creative failure with sub standard ability.
Don’t get me wrong I dream of being a full time creator like I’m sure many of you do, in my case as a musician. And in spite of being past the general use by date for cracking it as a full time original muso, I still work towards that outcome in the way I operate my music biz. But I’ve had periods of being a “full time musician” and honestly it was over rated. In spite of having thrown off the shackles of the day job I was far from earning a full time income. My budget was beyond shoestring, I felt so much pressure to say yes to paid “opportunities” that pulled me away from my actual dream outcome, I was always slightly anxious about making ends meet and invariably I had to rely on varying degrees of hand outs from friends and family.
I often go on spells over at the Facebook page where I post articles about amazing, inspiring, SUCCESSFUL writers, film makers, painters, comedians and creators of all sorts who have risen to fame whilst maintaining an array of day jobs. Elizabeth Gilbert waited tables whilst writing and publishing a number of novels before she blitzed it with Eat, Pray, Love, Billy Bragg pumped petrol, Gauguin was a stock broker, Phillip Glass was a taxi driver and plumber and an acclaimed artist and composer. I love this quote from Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist. “A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they cant tell you what to do.”
So if you are giving yourself a hard time about having a day job, don’t. Please. Having a day job gives you financial freedom to create in a heartfelt way, it gets you out of your head and into the world and in no way is connected to your talent level or the value of your creative work.
The “Sell Out” Myth.
Once upon a time there was an edgy band of rough English lads, smoking cigarettes and eating chicken on stage. They played what they wanted with abandon and irreverence, mainly in strip joints in Hamburg. These guys got offered the option to sell out. It would involve cutting their hair, quitting the onstage swearing and getting the hell out of the German booby bars. This bunch of sell outs wrote 4 of the best selling albums of all time, changed the face of pop music and were political and social world leaders. Meet The Beetles.
Not selling out is such a crappy myth. First you have to quit your day job and then you aren’t allowed to make stuff just ‘cause it sells. Seriously? Seems a bit rough to me. I’m all for authenticity and integrity in creating and I think when developing a brand it pays to be very careful in how you market certain products, particularly if they are good sellers that don’t completely fit into the heartfelt vision for your creativity. Strategically done in the big picture of your life and creative financial plan selling out is an awesome strategy. Finding ways to make good money from certain creative products can give you amazing freedom as a creator and choices in your life as a whole. Poverty isn’t that much fun and there are ways of having creative integrity and money in the bank.