You Either Die an Artist or Live Long Enough to See Yourself Become a Creative Entrepreneur

The artist. A solitary genius. A creator of beauty so sacred that we can’t help but love and fear at the same time.

“He’s a true artist,” we find ourselves saying, and it’s these words put together that conjure up the vision of someone whose inexorable destiny was to create, even at the expense of having to endure a lifetime of humility and frustration and social alienation.

The true artist is often misunderstood. He’s utterly and inconsolably alone with his art. And it is that art, that we all revere, that we’d think of as a bridge, that art is actually a wall. The artist hides behind this wall, refusing to face reality.

But times are changing. The artist has little choice in the matter: he either dies an artist or lives long enough to see himself become a creative entrepreneur.

Art is no longer seen as a spiritual journey.

Artists are no longer craftsmen endowed with fantastic gifts and abilities.

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Painting the Mona Lisa, Cesare Maccari

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The artist is no longer compared to a holy man; inspired, like a prophet; in touch with an unseen consciousness that grants him talent, vision, and inspiration.

Art, like all religions as they age, has become an industry. It is an uncontrollable process. The artist, the genius, has become a creative entrepreneur.

This is not the side-effect of social media, this is the side effect of the world of art slowly becoming an industry. From the old masters of the Renaissance have apprentices working for them, to the nobility of the seventeenth century sponsoring artists, to Andy Warhol‘s Factory.

This is not about the vast popularity of e-books. This started with the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg.

This is not about mass-production, but about being able to reach more people than ever before.

Consumerism is defined not by how much people want to buy, but how much there is to buy.

The artist has become a creative entrepreneur; day to day decisions resemble taking care of a business.

Gauguin, van Gogh, or F.S. Fitzgerald decided to die as artists rather than become creative entrepreneurs.

A lot of individuals choose the same route nowadays too. They are frustrated by social networks, they are frustrated by the lack of gatekeepers.

Yes, the gatekeepers are mostly gone, but you still have to knock on an awful lot of doors before you earn a bit of income from your art.

The emerging culture of creative entrepreneurship enables you to promote, sell, and deliver directly to the consumer, but finding the consumer and convincing them to buy your art is time consuming. If you can force yourself to do it!

Most, even though they have a blog, don’t even bother to do this.

Most artists don’t want to do everything it takes to get their names out there; which is what you have to do in a world oversaturated with content.

There’s nothing artistic about having to build your brand, your network, your social-media presence. Online marketplaces, self-publishing platforms, nonprofit incubators, collaborative spaces.

Creative entrepreneurship is far more interactive, at least in terms of how we understand the word today, than the model of the artist-as-genius, turning his back on the world, and even than the model of the artist as professional, operating within a relatively small and stable set of relationships.

No gatekeepers, no rules, means you’ve got to do everything yourself.

We now live in a world of working towards 10,000 followers on social media, rather than 10,000 hours of hard work to gain mastery.

No longer interested in putting in their 10,000 hours, the creative entrepreneur is all about maximizing profits.

The creative entrepreneur is far more interested in developing the right connections, or being able to diversify his portfolio. The creative entrepreneur can be a poet and a painter at the same time, and thus his reach is enhanced.

The creative entrepreneur is acutely aware of what sells, why, and how to best follow trends to increase his influence and income.

The artist is forever bound to his inexorable destiny: he has to create. This urge overcomes him. The artist has no interest in selling his art to the highest bidder. He wants to experience life, not get the most of it.

The creative entrepreneur wants to optimize, while the artist just wants to feel.

The creative entrepreneur thinks in terms of ROI, while the artists puts everything into their art.

The creative entrepreneur wants to build a network of followers and associates, while the artist wants to create as much art as possible.

The creative entrepreneur has ideas, the artist has ideals.

The artist is the dreamer of dreams, the one who’s brave enough to live the kind of life most others don’t understand. The creative entrepreneur, on the other hand, wants to rewards, but does not have time for passion.

And this is what it all comes down to: passion. It means to suffer. It means to be patient in suffering for a worthy goal.

The artist is all about passion. The creative entrepreneur is all about profit.

And the truth is that in this brave new world, we must choose one or the other:

You either die an artist or live long enough to see yourself become a creative entrepreneur.

10 thoughts on “You Either Die an Artist or Live Long Enough to See Yourself Become a Creative Entrepreneur

  1. At first , when i began writing I couldn’t write any creative content at all. But , over the past few days, my creativity found expression. So what i would like to become is an artist.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So so True! As always spot on! The eternal dilemma that makes me procrastinate now in both fields. The time needed to achieve mastery is spent entertaining potential fans and all the rest, which ends in not creating anything at all! Vicious circle! If I isolate they forget me, if I socialize I can’t create!


  3. Nice article with some unpleasant truth in it.

    I have a few caveats. The real artist never turned away from reality, but grappled with the human condition, including your examples of Van Gogh and Fitzgerald. I also don’t think one has to choose one or the other, passion or being a marketing machine. One can do both, and I think a lot of artists historically have done that. However, in the end, when it comes to art, or music, if I am the audience, I don’t give a hoot about the creators marketing, branding, and social media presence. All I care about is how good the work is intrinsically. Other things maybe be necessary, but they are also extraneous and so much bullshit and waist of time.

    I find the key isn’t doing it all yourself or various marketing ploys, because it’s extraordinarily difficult to lift yourself up from your bootstraps in an era of constant bombardment of amateur art. One has to get picked up by a larger venue in order to get real exposure, unless one is terribly lucky.

    Just some thoughts. I haven’t mastered the business angle by any stretch of the imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Media has become an industry so too the ART. I article raises a poignant question about the liberation of art from industrialization. Anand Bose from Kerala.

    Liked by 1 person

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