Updated: Apr 1, 2019
For anyone who wants to make art, regardless of what it is, from music to painting and everything in between. There is always one question that you will either ask yourself or someone will ask you. Are you making your art for the money? Or are you making money for your art?
It might seem like a simple or strange question but it something that I hear my conscience asking me a lot. So what exactly does this question aim to answer? Well in all honestly there are a plethora of answers that are completely valid but there is one that I feel is the most important, and it also comes in the form of another question.
How do you measure the success of your art? Is it by how much you sell? Is it by how many people see or hear it? or is it by how many people give you feedback both good and bad?
Being able to answer this question may take time but you can apply it to a range of art forms. For me I base my success off how many people listen to my music and how many people it influences and if you’re like me then the more people you reach the happier and more successful it makes you feel. Like I said deciding this question may take you some time but it will help you to understand and piece together your priorities, if you're approaching your art as a hobby or as a way to connect and share with people then take some of that weight off your shoulders. If you're in a situation that makes you feel like you cannot make your art then just breathe and take a step back. This is not your primary source of income and is something that you enjoy doing, making something truly special can sometimes take a lot of time and most of the time it takes a lot of work. Work that you can take a step back from and say "right now simply isn't a good time to be focusing on music" and that is okay. If you decide that you have finished with your art completely then that is totally fine as well. However, do not let these circumstances become a catalyst for laziness that then seeps its way into all the things in your life. What I am trying to say is that if doing art is what makes you happy in your spare time then simply enjoy it and remember that this is not something that should need to worry about. Now, this is quite on the contrary to your approaching art from a business standpoint in fact you could even say its almost the opposite in some respects. There is ALWAYS something you could be doing just like there is always something new to learn and thus this path becomes a primary staple that shapes your life. Instead of your art being something you do in your spare time it becomes the thing that you do before/after your spare time. You will still need to have things you can do to unwind and relax but it is always important to remember that when it comes to approaching your art from a business standpoint its a good idea to make plans, plans for how you're going to increase your fan base to plans that revolve around how you are going to distribute your art to these fans. Normally turning your art into your business is a natural evolution of your career and progress as an artist but nevertheless it is always a good idea to have an understanding of what you are trying to achieve.
If you approach your art form in the same way I do then here is a perspective that may help you, especially if you're just starting out:
You are a person, a person who has a wide range of experiences and you have art forms and art that you like and that you relate to and then you have art forms and art you don’t like and cannot relate to and all of this influences you and builds your character. Now just think about everything your life encompasses, your home, your family, your friends, your "enemies", your job and anything else that might be relevant to your life and now think about this, if one person JUST ONE listens to your music and likes/relates to it. That is a success. This one person is a small number, but, this one person has experiences like you do and a story of how art has influenced them. So even if it is one person or a thousand, think about how art influences you and realise that you have just done what you aimed to do and you can do it again. The way we look at our success is greatly influenced by our perspective and this is something you always need to be mindful of, when it comes to your art you may want to achieve the impossible but your goals need to be something that you know you can achieve. If you can do this then things wont always be perfect, but you will have more moments where you can say to yourself "Look what I have done, Look what I have accomplished".
You will undoubtedly get negative feedback about your art and it may not be what you want to see or hear but at the same time this feedback lets you know what types of people relate to your way of thinking and if need be, it lets you know what you may be doing right or wrong. It may not always be something you agree with or something that will help you progress your art forward, but at the end of the day it has still influenced someone enough that they felt like they had to share their opinion and that in its self is still a success.
Take the time to appreciate what you have done and never underestimate the significance of one person. Everyone has to start somewhere and even just influencing one person is truly an accomplishment.