Let’s talk about money for a bit, and making money as a fine artist/writer.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I am deeply masochistic. If I have an opportunity to agonize over something, I give my agony everything I’ve got. Martyrdom is my default inclination, except in one situation: my career. When it comes to how I make money, I am resolute. If it feels like I’m wasting my time, or the job is conflicting with who I want to be, I quit. My time is precious and I will never get it back. The last thing I ever want to do is make an unscrupulous person a profit off of the single most sacred thing in this earthly, mortal life.
I blame my parents. They made me read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad: For Teens” as soon as I turned 13, and it changed me forever. The book, for those who haven’t encountered Robert Kiyosaki’s ideas, is that the key to being wealthy isn’t to have a job where you earn a tonne of money, it’s to create a life in which your “money can work for you”. He’s just talking about passive income, e.g. dividends off of stocks/mutual funds/bonds, interest from savings and profit from other kinds of investments. The idea’s been around since the invention of the concept of land ownership, and then intensified by the invention of the stock market, so Kiyosaki isn’t exactly talking about ground breaking stuff. But to 13 year old me who wanted to do nothing but read and write all day long and kept getting met with “Writers don’t make money,” it was the first time that anyone had ever told me that I actually had options as to how I afford to stay alive while being creative.
The back of the book had an image of him and his wife on the backs of white horses, posing on a beach in Hawaii. I’d look at that picture and think “one day, that’s going to be me.” Not that I want to be on horseback all day, that’d be exhausting. What I mean is that why don’t artists discuss this option: Work a day job and make art at the same time. Invest in stuff (ambiguous, and it takes forever to start making decent returns, I know). While your investments are growing, continue to work on your art. And then, when you’re making enough from both avenues, quit the day job and be an artist and not starve.
I know this idea is super middle-class, privileged and assumes so many things is hurts and you probably hate me as much as I hate myself right now. But something doesn’t sit with me around the idea that artists must starve and have no options for an income/financially stable future other than to pray somebody takes notice of their work like rotting away at a soul-sucking day job. There’s gotta be another way. Why can’t passive income + art income be one of them?
All of these ideas are very preliminary, and I’m still working out exactly what they mean to myself and others. But I’ve been ruminating over this since I was 13 years old and I’m finally ready to air it out and open it up to some discussion/debate.
What do you think?
Am I completely off the mark with this being a viable option for at least some artists?
What kinds of creative types do you think this could work for? I had fine artists/writers in mind, i.e. highly creative individuals whose work can often take extended periods of time to gain traction with a sizeable-enough audience to make a living from.
Head down to the comment section and chime in!