Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wearing Two Hats #2: The Artist and Businessman Existing Under One Roof

A comment was made regarding my previous post on this topic. The comment was:

"Some where I read that an artist can not be a good business(man) and a business(man) can not be (a) good artist at (the same) time. Artists are passionate people for art and business man balanced sheet for profit."

The opposite extremes of anything (whether it be animation or politics) are constantly at each others' throats, trying to dominate a common territory. It's the constant straining against each other that keeps progress at a minimum, if not a standstill.

A businessman/woman who doesn't understand the need to be creative in order to bring something new to the marketplace is doomed to see their customers grow tired of what is being offered for sale. This will eventually result in a drop of sales and profit... and eventually enough so that the business may fail. This is why it is necessary to budget for creatives/artists searching for and developing new products/programming/etc, without an eye totally on the balance sheet.

The artist who wants to make a living with his/her artistic abilities, must understand that there must be buyers for these abilities/creations. Passion is wonderful when it helps you do your very best, but not when it keeps you from completing a job and getting paid. Artists must know where to draw the line between personal and professional works. Passion alone doesn't pay the bills...give your best for what you're being paid to do...and save your passion for your bedroom.

An example of a person with equal amounts of passion/creativity and sense of business: Steve Jobs

Your additional comments are welcomed.


  1. I have to admit I am sometimes bothered when people accuse artists or musicians of "selling out" because they decided having a steady income is more important than maintaining their artistic integrity. But you know, even Mozart and Beethoven had to produce material "on contract", as it were, and write music they didn't like so they could eat. I don't see it as necessarily selling out, you can always work on your personal artistic stuff on the side while doing commercial work.

    Good point about Steve Jobs. Isaac Asimov is another creative person who was able to keep a balance between business and creativity -- he produced an amazing amount of written works and loved just about every single thing he wrote and also got rich from his writings. His autobiography is a remarkable record of how he grew up as a poor Depression-era child, the son of Russian immigrants, to become one of the most successful writers of the 20th Century.

    To develop a real business sense as an artist or musician, you can't rely on income from any single source, but develop multiple streams of income. Each stream by itself may not amount to a lot, but if you have several streams going, it can add up.

  2. I've been an independent artist for 16 years and have gravitated back towards animation - and can almost call myself an independent animator even, having had some freelance commercial work in that area.

    What I've found is that, rather than work on personal projects on the side, you use them to attract business. Often but not always, it's the personal projects that have the most vision, creativity and yes, even passion that makes them stand out and make potential clients go 'wow'.

    It's when the paying work comes in that you then need to find some kind of balance between doing the work you enjoy and doing the work that pays the bills.