Sunday

It Is Okay to be Creative and Afford to Eat!

Okay, this needs to be said. I stand between two groups. On one side are very creative people and on the other side are very entrepreneurial people. Where the two meet a couple of things happen.
  • Sometimes the two mix, and a harmony of creative entrepreneurship rings out into the cosmos.
  • Sometimes the two curdle and ... it sucks.
I wonder sometimes why I've always had both of these aspects to my personality, when so many people seem to be either in the 'creative' camp or the 'entrepreneurial' one. It could be because I use my brain differently. If you know my story, please bear with me while I share this with the others.

As a child, I was in a very serious car accident that left me unable to speak, read or write. As a consequence, I had to teach myself to do all three. No speech therapist was made available and - having damaged all the language areas, but still with an obsessive drive to become an author - I worked on reconstructing my brain. I mapped it out, imagined packaging pictures and sounds together and storing them on the right side of my brain, etc. In time, some of the function returned to my left brain but, by then, my right brain was working in a way it had never been called upon to work. 

The consequence? I can write (cursive) with both my right and left hand. This image spins whichever way I tell it to spin. 

I can read just as easily upside-down as I can the right way up. Both sides of my brain play together. The 'left brain' logic and 'right brain' artistry don't stay in their boxes. My mind wanders ... literally. My right brain had to 'do' logic. I taught it mathematics using pictures. My left brain had to do creative things. I made it use pictures to re-construct language. 

Where am I going with this? I think it's interesting when dis-similar things meet. I think that creativity works better when there is enough entrepreneurial zeal injected into a creative project for the artists to be able to eat. I think that business works far better when people who think primarily in numeric terms shut up and listen to creative people. 

The problem is that these distinctions are almost tribal. Artists are expected to struggle for their art and, often, they feel guilty when they succeed in their artistic endeavours. Somehow, that's 'selling out'. In other words, art exists only when it is not loved? The creative is only valid as long as the majority of people don't like it enough to open their wallets? That's loopy. If you're saying this to yourself, give yourself a slap now. Go on. Not too hard, you masochist. Better? Good. Now, go out and make some money. Winter's round the corner and you'll need cash to heat your garret. 

Business people make stupid decisions when they don't think creatively (or they don't hire creative people to think for them). Why? Because if you only focus on what makes cash, you ignore cultural nuances, miss subtle shifts, and fail to capture the Zeitgeist. 

Here's a challenge for you. Whichever side of your brain you are most friendly with, make friends with the other side. Obsessed with numbers? Go to an art gallery. Obsessed with literature? Do some algebra. Obsessed with making money? Imagine what you'd love to do, even if you had none, then check to see whether or not you are doing that. Obsessed with not having money? Imagine how much more you could focus on your art if you no longer needed to panic about the bills.

If you're creative and business makes you uncomfortable, or you're and entrepreneur and creative people make you uncomfortable, ask yourself why.

Use your whole brain. 

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