How Seth Godin really pissed me off, and then inspired me to change.

October 16, 2008 at 3:39 pm 1 comment

I made a major internal shift last night. I was reading a blog post by Seth Godin, titled “Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love”. He speaks about the dilemma of artists and that just because your art gets attention, doesn’t mean you can make a living from it, and he suggests that maybe you shouldn’t make a living from it because:

“1. In order to monetize your work, you’ll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars
2. Attention doesn’t always equal significant cash flow.”

At first, this really pissed me off. I get very tired, very quickly of the “You can’t make a living from your art, you’ll end up selling out, it never ends well, blah blah blah” spiel. Sorry, but I call bullshit on that one. There are various reasons that this mindset annoys me, but it basically boils down to the attitude of “Don’t even bother trying. You’ve already failed.” I’m sorry, but please don’t tell me what I’ve failed at before I’ve tried it, thankyouverymuch. I’m perfectly capable of screwing up all on my own.

So there I sat, reading this post, and silently fuming at Mr. Godin and his negativity and the negativity of the world, and all the mean people who think all artists are going to fail (my anger was perhaps slightly irrational at this point, but this issue pushes my buttons). Godin goes on about finding another job that you love and not over-commercializing your work and losing the joy, but I was too busy being annoyed to pay any of this much attention, despite the fact that he may have a very good point. But then he wrote something that stopped me in my angry tracks, and flipped on an internal lightbulb. At the very end, in parantheses, he wrote:

“(And the twist, because there is always a twist, is that as soon as you focus on your art and leave the money behind, you may just discover that this focus turns out to be the secret of actually breaking through and making money.)”

Well blow me over. He might just have something there. And I had this realization, that up until now, I’d looked at my art as a means to an end – a financial one. You see, I have this thing about independence – because I can’t work due to the CFS, I’m financially dependent on my family and the generosity of my friends. I cannot describe to you how much I hate that. There’s nothing I want more than to be able to take care of myself financially. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many people who even believe that financial independence is possible for me. I’ve been told it isn’t. Being told this also gets me rather cheesed. So my driving force for the past year has been to prove everyone wrong. Except you know how well that worked? Not well. And my burning passion for my art and for helping people has fallen by the way side, which is terrible and makes me sad. I so desperately wanted to prove all the negative-minded nay-sayers wrong, that I could be chronically ill and an artist and financially independent, that all I did was prove them right. I think that secretly maybe I believed they were right too.

Although I can’t say I ever compromised what I paint, I never thought that anyone in the real world gave a crap if I was super passionate about it or not. I didn’t think it was important. And because I was so tied up about the money, when writing my blog or the copy for my website, or anything to do with the business, my main objective was to not rock the boat. I didn’t want to go out there and be different, because what if people didn’t like me? What if I offended everyone and got shunned? (We can go into the myriad of insecurities behind those statements on another day). All I wanted to do was colour inside the lines.

Well, I’ve got a new point of view now – I think that maybe my passion and love are in fact the most important part of my art and my business.  And I’m internally changing the focus from colouring inside the lines, to colouring wherever my passion takes me. I’m creating the business I want now, and not some watered down version that will make everyone else happy. The love and the art come first now.


Entry filed under: Accomplishment, Fear. Tags: , .

How do you heal? Fear. Or “Why I shouldn’t be let out in public”.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. badkittyartstudio  |  November 2, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Man, this post rocks too. Don’t ever say die, I didn’t and it worked. It happens. It’s the soul with a body thing, not a body with a soul. Good stuff.


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