I received a private message on Instagram this week from an artist who's been struggling to find any success with her art.
She told me that she admires what I do and how I do it..but doesn't know how I do it.
She went on to ask for some advice understanding how to make a living from her art. She seemed baffled how to start, where to start or even if she should keep going ? Was it even worth it?
This is something that I relate to big time. Do you? I still experience those sorta feeling. But here's the hard truth.
I don't know if those feelings will ever go away completely.
And to be honest, I'm not sure that I'd want those worries to go away even if I could magically banish them.
Insecurity doesn't have to weigh you down though.
Insecurity can be a powerful driving force. It can also keep you humble when you feel the ol' ego patting you on the back.
Insecurity can be a jerk, but it can also show you what needs work. So be willing to listen without feeling judged or pressured.
Rather than wonderfing how to make money and “succeed”, I suggest asking yourself these questions instead.
- Why do you want what you think you want anyway?
- How badly do you want it? Be honest.
- Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
Let me offer some advice…
I'll preface this by saying that this is geared towards artists but it applies equally to musicians, actors, athletes, writers, parents and creative people in general.
If you’re primarily focused on money…Your art will suffer. Period.
Most of us worry about money, me included. But when you're creating art, don't put that sort of pressure on your art. Push those worries aside, they'll be there for you when your done creating.
Your art isn't there to serve you. You are there to serve it.
Don't let your ability to hold a brush or play a chord fool you. You're not fully in charge.
Your talent is a gift.
Like any gift, be thankful for it and take care of it. Be willing to share it.
When it feels more like work than your art, then it's no longer your art.
If money is your main concern, become an expert on money. There are more than enough financial experts out there on that topic. Seek them out and stop making excuses. Then get back to making your art.
Why did you start making art in the first place?
Get back to that feeling. Be playful. Spend time doing things that aren't “important” nor “urgent”. Buy a coloring book, learn to play a new song on the guitar. Buy a guitar. Have fun and good things happen.
Do your art with no expectations.
If you luck out and you become one of the few to make something unique & inspiring and if the right people notice it, the money will come on it's own as a by product of focusing on your art. Chances are your thing won't “go anywhere” though and that's ok. Deflate the pressure a bit my friend.
If you can imagine yourself doing anything else for a living besides your art, you should probably do it. Do it now.
But if you're like me and just can’t imagine doing anything else, then you better be damn willing to commit to it fully.
Art is a relationship and if you strain your relationship with money or aren't fully into it, it's going to fail. There is no room for “poor me” stories here. Put on your grown-up underpants and get to work.
“If someone said: ‘Leonard, you can either eat a guy’s head or do two weeks at the Copa.’ I’d say pass the f*cking salt.”
Working for yourself in general is a tough gig. Succeeding in the arts is specifically hard A.F. and rare. But it's very possible.
Statistically most entrepreneurs will fail. Nine out of ten new businesses fail. For most people, that should be enough reason to try something else.
Why I do it…
I work for my artistic voice. I don't have a choice. My visions need someone to hold the paintbrush and I humbly do it. My visions need someone to pay attention, so I do so with gratitude.
Being an artist is part of who I am and who I've always been.
I choose to see the world differently and create art. The price I pay for admission is the years of hard ass work and sacrifice and I love it.