They say that poverty is the mother of invention. Well, if you ask me, poverty is the mother of potato-heavy meals, chillblains and holes in your jumpers. Being creative doesn't have to make you poor. In fact, follow these steps and it might even make you rich...
Here’s the creative world’s dirty little secret: lots of brilliant artists are in it for the money.
I know. I’ll give you a minute. Pick yourself up off the floor. You’ve had big a shock.
There seems to be some sort of all-pervading myth that to be creative you must also be penniless. Yes, there have been incredibly creative people who have sacrificed everything for their art and lived like tramps. There have also been brilliantly creative people who have made millions, own pools and eat out every night.
Damien Hirst, Steven Spielberg, Jay-Z, Tracey Emin, Adele, David Bowie and Jennifer Aniston haven’t become successful because they wanted to be rich. But, they’ve become rich because they wanted to be successful. And that can make all the difference.
You are your own business
If you are an artist, trying to make money from your talent, then you are basically your own business. If you are an artist, collaborating with other artist to form a company, then that company is your business. So, start treating it like a business.
If you’re taking a show to Edinburgh, for example, you don’t have to bankrupt yourself in the process. Take that show on tour, give it a life after the festival, try to make some money back and, if it was successful, who says you can’t take the same show up the next year? Les Enfants Terribles took their show The Terrible Infants to Edinburgh two years in a row and it’s done them no harm. Perhaps – and this is truly controversial – you don’t need to go to Edinburgh at all.
If you are a visual artist, illustrator or designer, look into ways that you can make revenue from your work. Sell prints, license your artwork for other products (such as t-shirts, posters, mugs etc) and see if you can cut studio space by doing a desk-share.
The more seriously you take yourself as a business, the more attractive you will be to investors.
You don’t have to risk everything
We’ve all heard stories about people who risk their life savings, home, food money and children’s future to launch their creative dream. If you’re really that determined, all power to your elbow. But, that isn’t the only way to kickstart a project.
There are so many funding opportunities out there – not least right here on IdeasTap – that it might be a good idea to get the money before you start your project, and scale your ambition to suit the funding you receive.
Don’t worry about “selling out”
Making a profit and selling out are two very different things, if you even believe in the concept of “selling out” at all, that is.
As Julia Davis, interviewed in The Guardian, once said, " I used to think that you'd be really selling out if you did something like a voiceover. Now I don't think like that. You have to be realistic – everyone has to do shit things to fund their projects of love.”
As an emerging artist, it is not selling out to make money from your creative project. Making a profit will allow your creative idea to grow, improve and last. Without the money to carry on, you are basically cutting off your future career opportunities to appease a misplaced snobbery about making a profit.
So, go forth and make money. You’ll thank me in the long run.
Money Laundering - pounds by Images_of_Money via Flickr under a CC BY 2.0 license. Credit TaxBrackets.org.