If there is a budget for scientific research and two projects are presented, one to research the wellbeing of a cow after it is separated from its calve and another where a scientist wants to research the effect a change of diet has on milk production we all know which project will be considered more important and will subsequently be allocated the budget. If the first scientist would want to get another shot at doing the mentioned research he/she would have a better chance if the study was focused on the effect depression has on milk production. In other words, there needs to be a direct correlation between what we as a society have agreed to give a priority and the money we invest in it. Of course we like the idea of happy cows but only if it doesn’t affect our milk price.
A similar situation occurs when you speak to artists. Although we all like the idea of art we are not quite sure who should pick up the tab for all those creative spirits contributing to worldly aesthetics.
There are two types of artists; those that sell and those that don’t. This does not always depend on the quality or standard of their art but usually on a combination of entrepreneurial talent and serendipity. Of course your opinion of these two groups largely depends on which group you are in yourself. For most artists money is a tricky subject largely because it does not differentiate worth and value. Something of great value can have little worth and vice versa.
If you are not creatively inclined you will expect the artists to take care of themselves. We all need to, after all, be self supporting and take responsibility for our own choices. Selling art is the way for an artist to survive although he tends to have little influence on the price at which his work sells. Besides, once selling becomes a goal, creativity and originality will often need to move to the back seat and the painted word will become a necessary strategy. You need to decide your niche market, you need to build up your artistic authority and attract your fans. Your fans don’t necessarily want to know about you or your art as such, they want to know why your art will be a good investment and you an attractive cash cow.
At the Art-preneurial training with Peter Maasdam in Amsterdam it was clear that Tony Robbins was in his outer circle of influence. Storytelling, high energy and high fives turned the down to earth Dutch in an enthusiastic audience. Don’t get me wrong, my admiration goes out to Peter for what he has achieved and for taking this very scary step towards motivational speaker after setting up a successful art-rental business and transforming a depressing Merck pharmaceutical warehouse into an uber cool and arty meeting and inspiration centre, but it just disappointed me that the build up of the programme was so obvious. From the testimonials of previous clients to the discount if you purchase today offer.
Needless to say, when you go to a training day to learn how to earn more money with your art, the business model isn’t based on the entrance fee for the day programme. So then, why does it bother me that there is a time share hustle feeling about getting people to buy your training when the day is over? Especially as I am sure that numerous artists in the audience would benefit from his training, Peter is a smart, friendly, energetic guy with experience, curiosity and drive to move people to the next level.
After some serious inner questioning I realised that what bothers me is the insight that creatives have still not managed to find a way to play the business game successfully by their own rules. That generic models are adapted to fit selling art with prices based on mm2 and word counts. That we are all struggling to find the formula that allows us to keep our head high, our wallet filled and our hearts on fire.
Let’s practice observing all man made beauty around us, how it inspires us to live our life to the fullest and how that subsequently makes us so much more productive…. !
If you prefer, world, we can adapt the wording of the research project to prove it.
(Credits to photographer Jocelyn Wu via Unsplash, whose image I may download and use free of charge, the irony of which I am sure will not go unnoticed but for which I am very grateful)
Inspired by everything that matters and convinced that creative living is on top of the list.