Mission Creep And The Militant Artist

An internet marketer told me that I’m doing it wrong. He said I should only spend 20% of my time creating things. The other 80% I should spend on marketing.

He might be right. But then, why not take a marketing job 4 days a week instead. I’d get a guaranteed pay cheque that way. If I want to do marketing, I should definitely get a marketing job.

But if I want to be a creator, then I need to spend my time creating. Who wishes Leonardo Da Vinci had made less art so he could deliver handfliers?

“Hey Michaelangelo, stop sculpting David and give these leaflets out!”

Ryan Holiday loves writing. He got a lot of speaking gigs because his books were so successful. Before he knew it, he was spending his time speaking, not writing.

The fantasy writer Neil Gaiman realised one day that he was sending emails for a living. He had become a fantasy writer only in his spare time. Every artist will recognise this mission drift.

Reality check. Nobody is going to remember you for your leaflets or your emails. If you’re an artist, make art. Today.

I made a new record last year. It was fun. I loved it. I was in the studio making music. Making arrangement decisions. Being me.

Then once I finished the music making, I went into admin mode. Promotions. Project management. Tour management. Gig sales. Album sales.

I’ve been in admin mode for months now. I’ve created little. The relentless chore of tasks squashes the creativity from my brain.

When I was in the studio, I had no task┬álist. Each day – one task. Make music. Life was simple. Life was happier.

Making art is not only about art. It is about you. An artist not making art is like a shadow.

Even if your art is spreadsheets, or computer code, or creating a smile on someone else’s face. Your art needn’t fit in the Arts section of a newspaper.

Musicians swap music for promotion and project management. Actors swap acting for waiting for their agent to call. Writers swap writing for public speaking gigs.

Here’s the killer question. Why are you doing this?

Do you want to make art? Or do you want plaudits?

If it’s attention you want, then do the marketing. But if your goal is to make art, then make art.

An author asked the writer James Altucher for some advice. “How do I promote my first book?”

“Write a second book”, he replied.

You have to love something to be great at it. And I’ll never love marketing.

Make art. Upload it. Then make something else.

Or get a job in marketing. It pays better.

Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice

2 thoughts on “Mission Creep And The Militant Artist”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *