c&p #5: The BEST artists know how to make money (and thrive)

Money is hard to talk about.

Not only in general life, but significantly more so in the context of being an artist or being a creative.

There's a lot of social shame and anxiety that comes with it; how much of it we make, how little of it we make, how we spend it, how we save it, where it goes, and all the other hundreds of micro-decisions we have to make.

And then, on top of that, as an artist or a creative, learning how to make money is a whole other skill that is confusing and can feel kind of icky and gross, and it's just something we don't usually want to talk to others about. And I get that.

But I think that the best artists in the modern age have the ability to make money off the thing that they love doing. 

More importantly, they make enough money to continue doing the thing they love for as long as they want to do it. 

Now, this doesn't apply to you if your creativity or passion is a hobby or if it's sustained by your job doing something unrelated. If creating things is a part-time thing for you, then you already have some avenue to support yourself to keep doing it, and you might want to keep it that way, and that's totally fine. 

But for the full-time artists, the creatives who currently do or want to do this as a long-lasting, fruitful career, the idea of being self-sustaining in doing what you love to do is of PARAMOUNT importance. 

Because to be renowned at anything, you need timeAnd a lot of it. 

And I want to stress here; I'm not talking about just being good, or better than average, or great, or even excellent at your art. And I'm not talking about one year or two years, or even 3, 4, 5, or 6 years. 

No, I'm talking specifically about mastery and decades

The idea of the 10,000 hours rule was popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of five New York Times bestsellers, in his fantastic book, Outliers, which I highly recommend you read.

It's this idea that to achieve mastery, true mastery, at any complex, complicated skill; most people get there by the time they've put in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Not sloppy, wishy-washy, half-focused practice, but intentional, directional, deliberate practice. And this can take around a decade, or ten years, for most people.

If you worked a 40-hour workweek doing almost anything, you would reach 10,000 hours in just five years. But if you're honest with yourself, when you're at a job, how much of that time is genuinely intentional, considered, feedback-driven work deliberately progressing your art and craft forward? And how much of that time is spent in meetings, on lunch, or goofing around? 

The timeline of mastery is far longer than what most people think it is.

Now, the specific timing of 10,000 hours and ten years is not that important, so don't get stuck on that, but what is important here is that this is a great goal to strive towards when we're thinking about deliberate work because we need to do A LOT of it to reach mastery.

And this journey is deceiving because in any given skill, with enough effort and deliberate practice, we can reach a skill level that is decent, average, or even above average in just a few years. This is the 80% of skill acquisition. But the problem is that everyone else gets to this level too. 80% of others will also reach 80% of the same skill level. This, by definition, is what average is. 

But the rest of the journey, the journey to the upper 20%, the upper 10%, the upper 1%, this journey takes just as long, but probably longer, than the time it took to reach the starting point of that average. 

So 10,000 hours is more like a commitment to your craft over the long term. It's a metaphor. It's a north star. It's something that 99% of others will fail to achieve, and it will put you in rare air.

Remember, what is both difficult and rare is valuable, and the result of achieving mastery in your art is all of those things. 

But you need the money to do all of this. 

Money is freedom. And as an artist, you need the freedom to be able to continue doing what you love doing for as long as you can do it; for the sake of pursuing mastery, for the sake of growth, for the sake of enjoying life.

In the past, artists used to have "Patrons". Superrich people who would pay a salary to an artist to keep doing what they loved doing. You were set for life if you were an artist with a Patron.

In 2023, we have the internet. And regardless of whether you're thinking physically or digitally, the way forward to make money doing what you love doing is found on the internet.

Now, this video isn't one about the tactics of how to make money as a creative. Still, I've made a few videos on how to make art your full-time thing, which I'll leave below the like button below. I can make more detailed videos in the future because I love talking about this stuff, and I want to encourage as many creatives as possible to start pursuing a life they love; a full life that's led in the way that they want to lead it, doing the things that they want to do, owning their time, owning their finances. That's something worth striving for, but I know it's super hard to do.

So when I see self-sustaining artists and creatives who are not only killing it in their passions but also killing it in their finances, these are the people that I genuinely respect, because a long-lasting, generative journey pursuing your craft is one of the most challenging but noble things you can do as an artist. 

So if you are an artist or creative, I'd implore you to change the mindset around how you think about money. It's not some icky, shame-filled thing, and you're not "selling out" by doing it. Rather, it's quite the opposite. Making money doing what you love compounds your abilities towards mastery. Selling your art gives you time to make more of it. And that is a pretty noble, rare, and valuable thing.

See you next week, creative.


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