The War of Art and Commerce

An artistic lady who has struggled to sell her work responded to my note about being either an entrepreneurial artist or an artistic entrepreneur as follows: ” Steven Barnes I keep thinking Trump or others of his ilk when i hear or see that word.”

The very clear implication being that her associations with the word are negative.  Needless to say, someone with a POSITIVE opinion about Trump would have used the term “calibre” instead of “ilk”, and the idea of becoming like him would be attractive.   Further,  unless you’ve never enjoyed a commercial product or service, there should be ready examples of people who have succeeded and prospered in a positive way. After all, if someone hadn’t created, promoted, and sold that product, you wouldn’t have it to enjoy, right?

So…what to say to this lady? This was my reply:

“I 100% believe you. That shines out of every word you say on the subject: the notion of sales and entrepreneurial activity is a NEGATIVE for you. Until you examine that attitude, and find a way to feel that you have something valuable to offer the right person, that people of your sensibility WANT you to find and educate them, that the honest exchange of money is one of the positive things in the world, you will continue to struggle. You’re driving with your brakes on. It is equivalent to someone “trying to lose weight” while believing that doing so will make them vulnerable to harassment or abuse. Trying to find a relationship while believing that they only lead to heartbreak. If you don’t change your core beliefs and values, you’d be better off creating your art purely for love and giving it away.”

If you didn’t grow up in a home and community where money and the making of it were a source of joy rather than pain, you can be confident that you have poisonous attitudes that will stop you. If you can’t see yourself earning tons of money providing service and pleasure to a community you respect, your chances of thriving financially are minimal.  If you think money, or sales, or marketing are, at the very worst, NEUTRAL things…you will sabotage yourself, I promise you. Opportunities will be right in front of you, and you won’t see them.  You’ll trash deadlines, alienate allies, fail to bring your “A” game, and choke in the clutch.  The very first step is cleaning out the trash.  Where did you get your attitudes about money and sales?  Have you NEVER met anyone who mastered these things who was a good, decent, loving, happy person?

You need to examine this. Now.  Or…your dreams will wither on the vine, or at best, you’ll be an indulgent artist “handled” by managers, agents and producers or spouses…who may well resent you because you’re forcing THEM to be the adults.  Everyone wants to be a child forever. And paradoxically, the only way you can do that is to grow up.  Money is the language of exchange in the adult world. Deal with it.






One comment

  1. Love this article Steven, and the whole concept of the Entrepreneurial Artist versus the Artistic Entrepreneur. I’m struggling with the word “calibre” though. I presume you mean caliber? 🙂


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