As an artist, your stock in trade is your power of creation. You are a creator. A maker. What you make is your art and your art alone.
Today, there are so many distractions. There is the computer, the mobile phone and social media. You can sink into those, on a daily basis and vanish without a trace. No work made. There are other sorts of media, like the television and even newspapers that can equally absorb your time and intellect, but return very little to your art and agenda. I don’t advocate cutting yourself off from other people, but ultimately the difference between being able to get your artistic work done and not is in how single minded you are in following your own path and plan. You set your agenda and you must stick to it, even if you and you alone decide to change the direction of travel, from time to time (and not so often that you go nowhere).
Setting your own agenda means reaching down into your very soul, discovering what it is that makes you smile and makes your eyes sparkle, finding that occupation or pursuit that you enjoy doing so much that time stands still and you become immersed in it and then making it your life’s work. Some people never discover what they’re here for or what their gift is, but when you do discover it, then it is so compelling, you spend the rest of your life giving that gift generously. However, you need to survive and in this world and that means you need food and shelter, warmth and the necessities of your art. If you are not recognised for your particular talent and gift universally, either because you haven’t made enough art yet to manifest it, or because people just aren’t getting you, then you have to begin to think creatively about how to survive. You might need to look for ways to get some money.
People might offer you money, but often with strings attached. They want to use your creative powers, your hands and your imagination, to further their own agenda. Do you even know what their agenda is? Shouldn’t you find out? Do you agree with it? Should you abandon your own plan, or so thoroughly subvert it that it becomes unrecognisable, to get that money? I don’t think you should. I think you need to take another person’s money with extreme caution. It’s only worth doing if what you are trying to get done and what they are trying to get done are the same thing, or very closely aligned and complementary.
When the planets align and you and one or more other people have a common purpose, goal, dream, destination, agenda or end in sight, then magic can happen. If each of you pursues this common goal, with passion and commitment, unswayed by other goals, then the result can be spectacular. It can also create unexpected abundance. In fact, the reason bands break up is that one or more members abandons the common goal. When they stick together, all pursuing the same purpose, it can last and last.
The only known route to abundance is in being the best you that you can be. If you are constantly asked to be somebody else or a lesser version of yourself, in exchange for money, you’re going to stay poor and dependent. That’s a hard fact and many of us make that terrible trade at a very young age. It’s a hard trap to escape, once you fall for it, too.
Commissions are bread and butter on the table, but are they commissioning you and your unique style and approach, or do they want a tame artist to produce their desired something in their own style and taste, which they lack the skills to make themselves? Are you an artist, in this commission, or an artisan? Do they want to buy your artistic insight, or simply your craft skills?
This applies to most job offers, actually. Is the person proposing an employment offer making it possible for you to further your goals, career and learning in the direction you wish it to go, or are they getting everything and all you’re getting are the avoidance of starvation and eviction? Are you constantly manipulated into a position of fearing imminent starvation, repossession, foreclosure and eviction, thereby preventing you from shining, perfecting your passion and reaching a state of abundance? In other words, has your personal project been so derailed, in the past that you are persistently on the brink of oblivion and will therefore take any offer, so long as it prevents disaster? That’s a bad place to be. There is a tendency for the most powerful, who are the most ruthless in pursuing their own goals, to ensure the rest of us stay at this level, because that makes achieving their goal so much easier.
Don’t make it easier for somebody else to achieve their goals, by sacrificing your own.