That Guy Is So Rich He Doesn’t Need to Work Anymore

Whenever I hear this phrase about an artist, I despair.  We all know there are artists that are so good at what they do, or who have become popular so suddenly, that they accumulate vast wealth almost overnight and are never heard from again.  Often, it is because they lose their creative spark.  They stop doing what made them wealthy in the first place.

Why is that?  Surely being an artist is not about getting wealthy.  In my view, it’s about having your say through your work.  The creative urge is just there.  You don’t get to turn it on or off.  It’s an essential part of you.  Surely the need to work is not about paying bills, when you’re an artist, it’s about producing something that wasn’t there before.  How come a full bank balance can make you lose the urge to make things?  OK, the utilitarian aspect is fulfilled and you have more temptations because you have money to lead you into them, but why would any real artist stop making art just because they had accumulated wealth?  I don’t get it.

Perhaps highly successful artists are held to a higher standard and hence they run out of the ability to improve upon their own previously successful works.  Even that sounds dubious to me.  Art is nothing if not a journey into challenging your own boundaries and limitations continuously.  When does that ever end?

So why do very successful artists so frequently retire young?  Is it that they didn’t really enjoy making art in the first place, or did the business issues and trappings that come along with a commercial success take all the fun out of it?  Were the terms of their contracts so onerous that their art felt like work and not very pleasant work?

Does abandoning their art as soon as they can afford to do so negate the aesthetic value of their earlier works?  If it turns out they were only cynically creating art to make money, does that detract from the authenticity of the work?  Does it envelop an artist like this in hypocrisy?  Were they just pretending?

I’m always heartened when I see really old artists, maybe past their prime, maybe comfortably off and financially independent, but still following their muse and making their works.  I like to think that art is about humanity and that while you still live and breathe, there is art to be created.  I’d like to imagine that the measure of success that an artist holds himself to is not whether he is rich, but whether or not he keeps discovering new things and improving his art.  It would be a nice dream to believe.

About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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2 Responses to That Guy Is So Rich He Doesn’t Need to Work Anymore

  1. susangeckle says:

    Whenever I try to take a deeper part in the “real world” of real jobs and careers, the universe kicks my butt. I end up going back to art. There will always be a part of me that says art isn’t a real job. That’s silly, but its a big part of the way people do think of art. Not as serious business, but as silly kid stuff.

    I agree with your post. I would think that if someone didn’t have any financial fears, they would create to their hearts content.

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