Art, life and complementary skills

Appreciating good art (photography, paintings, music, dance, writing, acting, cooking) makes us happy. Creating and expressing art is even more full-filling. We feel good, top of the world, when performing or delivering our art.

Though art can be really satisfying and enjoyable for the soul, it often cannot deliver for the body. We need money, at least some money, to live. That’s too bad from artists’ point of view.

There are several reasons why you cannot make enough money with your art:

  1. This world is bit too pragmatic. Wants ‘value’ from what you do. It is true that art delivers the ‘feel good’ value but there is too much competition in the ‘feel good’ market. Internet can make us ‘feel good’ for infinite numbers of hours and it is free
  2. The real, hard core appreciators of your art are really very small and it is not easy to find them and connect with them. And what’s worse, they may not afford to pay good price.
  3. You lack skills to promote yourself.
  4. It is also possible that you are not as good at your art as you think you are. It can take 10,000 hours of practice to be really really good at your art. (I know you are exceptional. ;))

So what should you, the artist, do? Should your abandon your art and start living a ‘soul-less’ life?

Not at all. You should keep honing your art. And at the same time, develop a complimentary skill. For example:

  1. If you are a great designer and/or writer, you can create stunning designs and write great copy. Having knowledge to install, configure, upgrade, manage, customize a CMS (wordpress, joomla, webgui etc.), can put you on a good track.
  2. You are a really good cricket coach or a singer or a painter, you can have really good network of friends at places which matter. Selling a high margin item as a second skill is surely going to keep you happy in all aspects of life.
  3. You are a doctor as well as a journalist. You don’t need to try too hard to keep yourself busy in your clinic.

In general, start selling something which is not related to your art. You may not like it. You may not feel like doing it. You may feel incompetent. But trust me, you will be good at it in few months or years. Just keep doing it consistently.

Converse is also true and helpful. For example if you are a really good at some practical skill (computer programming, selling etc.) and develop your hidden potential for some art, you are going to benefit a lot. (Note to self: develop good gimp/photoshop skills soon.)

These thoughts were triggered after reading interview of a literary person today. When asked why he did not motivate his kids into his field, he replied: “Because literature cannot run a home and I love my kids”. A bad reply, I would say.

Dedicated to all my wonderful artist friends.


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