Is it all about the money, money?

Yesterday, my lovely bestie Ashy, (check out her work) and I were talking about the ups and downs of being an artist. We have both had our ups and downs and have like many artist struggle with, still can not find a happy balance between commercial prosperity and doing what you like (even if it isn’t commercially viable.)

make-money-online-now For example, I love poetry. Its probably my best craft, but even if I am amazing and well-recognized for it, it very hard to eek out a living. so what do I do? Stick with what I love most? Try and do more commercial stuff? Do a combo of both?

I am lucky that I can eek out a living as an English Professor which does give me time to write, but others aren’t as lucky.

And if that wasn’t hard enough. Ashy, a painter spent a lot of time discussing options with renting at galleries and using agents (both of which are recommended.) Between the fees each would take, she’d net around 10 percent of the profits.

We spent an hour or so pondering if its better to “sell-out” then do what you love; do what you love and find a different income; do what you love and hope it is commercially viable; or do a combo of both?

So my question to you, do you consider money when making art? How do you reconcile the economic need with your artistic soul?



24 comments on “Is it all about the money, money?

  1. I think once you do start down the road of compromise you set a precedent for both yourself and others to look at when certain situations arise in the future and say well you did this in the past so why not now. If you stick to what you believe then you can always say you did it this way and it worked.

  2. I write what I am given to write and try to have faith that the universe will continue to provide for my needs. I would love to have a great income from this, but I have had money before, and been miserable. I enjoy writing my poetry, I enjoy people enjoying it. Hopefully, it will dovetail with financial well being one day. I will wish the same is true for you and your friend, Ashy. Peace. ~ Michael

    • Now, there’s a novel answer. You were rich-er and still miserable. That’s refreshing. I’ve heard stories, but I end up getting suspicious and think wealthy people who say they are miserable are just getting the “beggars” off their backs by appearing downtrodden.

      I personally figure I will master my prose/novels/pick-a-paths with some input from readers I can reach and trust; then I will talk with publishers or go the self-pub’ route. And, hopefully, when it matters, all my creations will pay off when I need “retirement” money…though the thought of all the services and grubby companies demanding money of people just to share space on the planet and forget genuine compassion/charity and teamwork makes me sick.

      It’s hard to breathe when everyone is either talking about pushing sales or taxing the natural resources. I am thinking there are just too many people on the planet. No, we don’t need to take over Mars (when we just make a mess of the planet we have). And, no, I don’t want to see some “Running Man”, “Hunger Games” or “Terminator” future play out with droves of excess humans being killed off by other humans. Maybe we should just turn off the lights and sit down with the apes and lions for a while. ‘See if we can get along.

      • I admire your passion on the subject, and can’t argue too strongly against what you say.
        I think we have to make the most of what we have now, it may be all we get. I definitely agree with the sentiments abut greed, etc
        Thank you for such a thorough response. Peace. ~ Michael

      • Yer welcome, sir:)

        There is so much about the modern world and life that seems up in the air to me. I used to feel secure about things. But, the more I hear from other people, I am confused. Some seem so secure, successful and content. Others seem perpetually on the edge of suicide/homicide. So many stories of people far from home tell of people doing well. But, those closer to home seem to be dominated by grief, poverty and general stress-overload. I’m not happy. And, neither are those around me who have told me how to do better than I do for years.

        Too many thinking they are experts and putting out books about it, too.

        I try to keep an open mind even if I seem to be doing poorly/wrong. I know I do what I can to “keep my nose clean”. And, that’s important (to me), too. Even if I ended up homeless and broke, I’d go out knowing I tried my best–even if I feel like a coward–to uphold good values and respect my work. And, hopefully, I helped enough people improve their lives, too.

      • Many who think everything is okay are simply unaware. Those more sensitive to the energy of the whole feel the suffering, are not blinded by the physical distractions.
        You probably are a person inclined to be more spiritually awake. Cultivate that nature if you have it, then no matter what level of success you achieve, you will be content with it.

      • I have yet to find anyone who really thinks everything is okay, though. Not since I was little has anyone given me the full story to convince such a feeling. Thus, when I THINK I have found someone who says everything is okay, I must realize I don’t know them personally nor all that they do. I get skeptical and bitter…and that robs me of optimism. That’s another dilemma, balancing being realistic/watchful and accepting the possibility that some just might be living right in every conceivable way and are, thus, genuine good people.

        You must have done some research or classes on spiritual awakening:) I met some people not too many years ago online who spoke of such. It made me a little disturbed to say the least when I looked into it. I start to feel like I am phasing through time and space, not quite fixed in one universe…not sure what this world really is. Thus, I question what really needs to be done and what are people just telling me to do. Am I doomed to be a slave or on the verge of some bigger revolution?

        And, in case anyone dares to think such, no, drugs are not in my system:P hehe I am not seeing colors or wobbly fingers.

        Actually, the contentment is a “funny” concept to bring up. Adam and Eve (whether you see that story as a fable written by some Aesop or a genuine piece of biblical history) were not content before and after they ate the forbidden fruit of the wisdom tree. They were naive and discontent/tempted. And, then, they were informed and discontent, not to mention troubled and punished. Sometimes, more information or more intelligence isn’t a good thing, I reckon. Maybe the cavemen had it easier, and no one was there to call them slobs or foolish about their retirement planning.

      • I would say to you that you seem to be on the path because you have the good sense to question what you are being told. The story of the Garden is perfect, knowledge is a dangerous thing if it is not accompanied by wisdom.
        I have not studied per se, but am studying in this classroom called life. Fortunately it grades on a curve. Best wishes to you, my friend. Peace. ~ Michael

      • Whoever wrote the Garden of Eden story was far more brilliant than Shakespeare (whose work I struggle to understand/digest too often). I draw more lessons of life from the Garden than I ever do from Romeo and Juliet. Too many stories about kings with several wives dying and ghosts all around, too. I am not some “bible thumper” but acknowledge the clever and sensible thinking put into that particular story. Other stories are said to contain numbers and riddles not unlike Greek myths speaking as much about the lay of the land as the monsters living in mythological history.

        All of these concepts: wisdom, knowledge, charity, common sense, benefit, “good/bad for you,” etc. are in question perpetually. Everyone has an opinion. But, the truth seems out of reach. And, just when I think I have it, someone comes in with mental static and warps my thinking. I become consumed with negative obsessions I thought were behind me.

        Life grading on a curve:P hehe

        To you, too, sir.

  3. If your work is good enough then it will eventually be recognised, perhaps think of how future generations of your family will benefit from all your hard work…okay that is a little cynical but I haven’t had my pills yet today.

  4. I always love the thought of being paid for my prose. My pleasure goes into writing first, but a close second is the thought of making money somehow. But J.K. Rowlings I’m not, so I will have to settle for the love part. Thanks for bringing this up.

    • In what way do you compare yourself or think of J. Rowling(s)? Being able to put out book after book (which sounds a bit taxing/overwhelming if rushed)? Or, you don’t think you’re as good of a writer? Or, you’re just not getting paid professionally, yet?

  5. Telling the story has always come first for me. There are so many of them swirling around up there that if I didn’t succumb to writing them, I fear they would find a way to best me. Of course, I hope that someday one of them is recognized as being worthy to share in a big way, but I also have to remain realistic in my views. I can’t focus on whether or not I’m making the big bucks on my stories, but rather, on how well I am telling them.

    • And, that is something I take very seriously. When I heard J. Rowling was not entirely happy with a few of her Harry Potter books because she may have been rushed, I thought that was just another mistake of haste.

      Then, there are those instances when a publisher tries to change the book you wrote to suit their interests. That’s no good and risky. You don’t want to do a book tour for a book you sort of wrote but had some other people throw stuff in you didn’t really approve but accepted to get paid a fraction.

      I also don’t understand how so many books are labeled New Your Times best-sellers when I find so many mistakes in them. My English teachers would have red marks all over them if they were handed in by me. I expect more of a big-time writer/publisher.

      Taking one’s time to get something as polished as they can may not be time-saving or quick to profit, but it ensures a better product rather than cut corners and have it suck its way into a bad movie deal.

  6. I think it’s possible to find a balance. I’ve just started writing full-time, so I need to find a way to make money out of it, but there’s a line in my mind between potential money-making projects (such as articles and copywriting) and the actual “art” that I’m trying to do, as in writing novels. I want my novels to be fairly commercial, but not if that means compromising on my artistic goals. Meanwhile, I try to remind myself that every article I write doesn’t need to be an insightful work of art, as long as it’s entertaining and interesting to read. I split my time about 50/50 between the two goals and hope that somehow it will work out!

  7. Sadly we need some form of money to live so if you’re not fortunate enough to make enough of it doing what you love you have to compromise and find a happy medium

  8. Compromise too much and your art will suffer, of that I’m sure,

    Poetry is a difficult one, though I have known at least one succesful poet, Brian Patten, one of the group known as the Liverpool Poets from the 1960s. We occasionally used to drink together in The Prince of Wales in London’s Portland Road, when it was still the haunt of rock musicians, actors, writers and other such people. A few went on to become very famous; some were already quite famous. I went on to become neither. Luck plays a part, but it’s mostly hard work founded on dreams.

  9. When I write it comes from the depths of my heart. No need to think about money when creating my art. I write to bring a positive message to the people. Adding money to the equation is an invasion because I bleed ink that is left on the pavement. I would appreciate it if you would check out my Facebook page:

  10. Have you heard of the concept that any artist (whether painter, musician, poet, author) only needs a thousand true fans to make a living from their work? Doing the numbers, you’d have to produce a lot, but a high production doesn’t mean selling out. If a painter sells an original for $XXX and prints for $XX and postcards for $X is that also selling out or is that making your work affordable for all? I think the hardest part is understanding that turning your work into something that can support you isn’t selling out.

    I think producing work you’d never normally do because the market for it is available is when business takes over art.

  11. I consider myself just at the start of this writing journey and have no idea of myself as an artist making money from my craft. Even so, the start of this journey, committing to regular writing has cost me as I lose productive work hours to what I am compelled to do. I write because I need to and Discovered new enjoyment therein. I believe artists will always struggle until society once again recognises their value and actively supports them.

  12. YOU are an English professor??? Since when.

    As for the money VS sales bit…even I am in a quandary about it. It vexes me. And, I feel like the majority in the world just don’t want to hear it. They’d rather slave and listen to the gibberish about getting rich quick by selling some soul.

  13. That’s a tough one. I tend to agree that if I write what I love I hope the money follows. However, I understand the conundrum with poetry. I write novels about love with always a conservation theme in the background. Since I’ve started writing my fiction full time, I’ve had to spend too much time marketing with dismal monetary returns. Some days it gets to me. Other days I ignore the sales and just sit and write. I do consider it, but when I’m in the middle of telling my stories, money is no where near my consciousness. I’m writing and creating and to hell with the rest of it.

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