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The importance for Creatives in selling out, adapting, and actually doing things.

 

I’ve been throwing myself into higher-end 3D modeling and printing again for the last two weeks to try out a couple side-business ideas that look promising.
In the small business that is my sculpture studio, my apprentices dues basically cover our overhead, studio rent etc. It’s a solid basic business model, but it means I need sales or commissions for large, public sculptures to have any income for, you know, food and stuff.
The commission side of the business is doing very well actually, but it is moving insanely, infuriatingly slowly right now, and I may not get to start physical work on the contracts I’m working on now for a couple months yet. Thus I will not be paid anything for a few months to come.
So the reasonable response to solving that problem, of short term income, is to start a third, entirely new small business! Am I right?
Actually, I am right.
This kind of thing happens constantly in a creative professional’s life, and there’s only one good response to it.
It’s something I learned right at the beginning of my career making a living as an artist– the correct answer to every question involving a paying job or possible paying job is “Yep, I can do that.”
Friend wants to know if you can make a logo? Yep, you can do that. Do book layout? Yep, can do that. Make Halloween masks? No problem. Go work for the circus? Cool. Work as a movie extra? Uh huh. Higher pay if you can ride a horse? Sure, I can ride a horse, just give me a few hours to make a new friend who also owns a horse…
There are limits to this obviously. Complex skills require time and energy to acquire, and you don’t want to do things professionally that you’re incompetent at. So many creatives fail to make a living though because they’re really good at writing poems about the rain, and want to find a job doing exactly that, and that job has never existed.
But if you can write a great poem about the rain, you can also write really good ad copy for shower heads, or a good song about the rain fallin’ down. And you can sell those things, and get paid for practicing writing, instead of for working at Arby’s. Which is totally fine, if that’s your calling. But if you’re a poet, it’s probably not the job you’re hoping to spend your precious and limited time doing.
Vonnegut wrote ads for G.E.
Wedding gigs for your band pay just as much as gigs at cool clubs. More, probably.
You get to spend your time honing your skills at either one.
Sell out kids.
Sell out early. Sell out enthusiastically. Sell out to anyone who can pay. Figure out how to make it work after.
People will try to convince you that it’s more respectable to have a spouse or parents who support you financially, or to starve, in order to remain “pure” in your art. I have always had more respect for creatives who live more like gunslingers, feet in the dirt, out in the world, with just their horse and gun, taking each new day and each new challenge as it comes. Because if you want to really be *in* the world, what else can you do? That’s the life.
The ones who will criticize you for selling out all have trust funds or professorships. Someone else feeds them, and they haven’t had to fight in the real world for a long, long time.
Don’t tell yourself your ideas won’t work out.
That’s not your job, to tell yourself you failed.
It’s the world’s job to reject you.
And the world only gets that one shot.
After which, you have the option to stand up, clean yourself off, and try again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
This is the life, for creatives, for entrepreneurs, whoever.
Your job is not to predict things, or to feel safe, or to understand.
Your job is to ignore people with big ideas, and very serious advice and concerns, and to be the one to *actually try things*, and get your answer back from the big bad world, and then adjust, stand up, learn, and continue to move forward.

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