My art is not a business
...and quite frankly, I'm not even that interested in entrepreneurship.
My dear friend,
How are you?
I, as I think you might suspect, am in the wake of a decision. Its proportions and reach, I can’t yet explain, but I have a feeling we’re turning course.
Yep! This ship is slowly, very slowly, turning.
It feels really important to say to you that if your approach to the art you produce is entrepreneurial and structured along those lines, I do not feel any disdain towards you, or find that a reason to not be friends.
In fact, I support you, and I want you to go for it fully, and succeed. Because a successful entrepreneur to me, is like the shade of a fully-leafed tree; your success benefits a lot of people and it is needed.
I find that for me, thinking of my art as things that should be sold, has led me to trying to make the kind of art that I think people will want to buy.
What I mean is, in doing a “root-check” of why I have been foregrounding my art a certain way on social media, I find that my intentions are contrived.
A few weeks ago, I felt the need to show people my art in a different way, to get a response. Possibly, a monetary response. I edited my work into room-like settings using an app, (which a lot of people do and I absolutely love because it shows how your art looks when it’s hanging in a furnished room, which is refreshing and needed just as much as the gallery installation view of art). I posted a couple of my pieces this way as stories on Instagram, and created a highlight for them called “art for sale.” It got no response.
This upset me, to put it mildly. In fact I think it partly motivated my first blog post; “I have never been paid for my art.”
So I went deeper into this upset.
“Why am I posting my work in this way?” I asked myself and, “Why am I so devastated that no one responded to it?”
In the last year, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about turning what you love to do, some say “your passion,” into a business. It wasn’t hard for me to see the things no one has to ask me (or even pay me) to do. And I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into how to monetise those passions so that I don’t have to make a living doing work I hate like cold-calling, being a PA, and managing social media content for businesses (all of which I've done).
What I’m coming to realise, to which you might say, “Well duh, of course stupid!” is there is no shortage of these “how-to-monetise-your-passions” conversations. There is a huge cry for them in contemporary society, which makes sense post the pandemic.
A lot of people lost their jobs, or left jobs they hated (myself included) and we’re looking for ways to take care of ourselves; pay rent, pay for insurances, without having to do what feels like back-breaking work to us.
I love making things. I always have. Throughout school, and university, my attention was mainly on disciplines based on making in some sort; art, literature, music…
Drawing, taking photographs, writing…these are things that when I do, time flies and stands still all at once. They are ALL I want to do.
And in the last year, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can squeeze money out of them. What would it take for someone to buy my drawings, my paintings, or fund my podcast? What did I need to do? I was looking for advice, and examples to follow.
I found them. And I’ve been following most to the best of my abilities and resources.
It has yielded me nothing (as you may already know), except for a growing feeling that “Well, maybe my art is a hobby after all,” which has led to, “Well, then what’s the point of doing it?”
Do you see friend? I’ve fallen into this kind of thinking: “If it doesn’t make me any money, then what’s the point of putting my energies and time into it?”
And in that near-nihilism, what came rushing up, out from beneath me, like a fresh, new spring of water was: “Because it is my joy.”
Because it is my absolute joy to make things. The desire to make rises from my heart.
I have been making poems, clothes for dolls, crayon drawings on walls…and so many other things since I was a toddler and NO ONE paid me for them. In fact, I hid my poems, and I was given a stern talking-to for my “murals” on my mother’s walls.
It has always been my joy to make. It has not always rewarded me.
And it never promised me that it would.
I’ve never had the dream to build a business or something like a company. But I wanted to enslave this beautiful desire, which some have and nurture for years, to feel like I am recognisable in the world.
Maybe when people see that this art that I spend so much time on actually gets me money; they will respect me. They won’t think I’m refusing to act like a grown-up with my silly drawings.
So, at the risk of mockery, derision, navel-gazing and aimless “hobbying” (yes I just invented that word)…I will boldly say that I am not trying to make art that will sell. I am choosing to make art without considering whether someone else will like and want to spend money on it. I am embracing the fact that my art may be of no use to anyone, ever.
And I am choosing to carry on making it anyway.
I’m giving the business podcasts a rest, I'm tired, and I’ve been listening along without integrity.
I say, let’s be brave?
Someone (I’m sorry I can’t remember who) said something like, “Braveness is speaking with your heart.”
Let’s speak with out heart?
You want to build a business because that’s all you’ve ever wanted to do, you created this thing FOR people and so desperately want them to have it because it will help them, or make their life better, or delight them in some or other way…?
PLEASE my friend, DO IT!
Please do anything that calls to you because it desires you as much as you desire it!
What you seek is seeking you. Rumi.
Try not to worry too much about what it will mean or what it will do…how it will or won’t save the world.
Don’t force your good intentions. Be willing to give into whatever you’re being asked to contribute to the healing of this world.
Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where it all comes from and where it is leading? Rainer Maria Rilke.
Creation is very particular in asking for what it needs from you. You don’t offer it your plans, you have to offer yourself.
So, take care of what you offer; take care of yourself Dear One.