Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 12

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 12, Make Money to Make Art

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the relationship between making art and making money. He offers the following key points for us to think about:

  • For many years, the primary economic model for art-making was to facilitate gift exchange. Only recently did we start thinking art was something we could charge money for.
  • Thriving artists know that making money was never the point of making art. The point is to share the gift of art. At the same time, the artists also need to be financially viable. The challenge becomes that money is the mean of making art, but money must never be the master.
  • Creative work is a costly endeavor, both in time and financial resources. The work also requires us to dedicate large amounts of our lives to it without any immediate reward. So when we find breakthroughs to make money, it buys us time and allows us to create more art.
  • For the art form of kamishibai, the candy sales made the art possible. Furthermore, the business of kamishibai showing made the creative side possible. The later generations of artists went on to spread a new form of art called “manga.” The older art form launched an entirely new genre that continues today.
  • Thriving artists know we must make money to make art, but we should not make income generation the only or utmost objective. Money exists, in an artist’s world, to buy her another opportunity to make art. Every chance we can create instead of just scrambling for a living is a win. With time, those wins add up for the side of art-making.

In summary, “The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 11

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 11, Diversify Your Portfolio

In this chapter, Jeff discusses how thriving artists should handle their projects and portfolios. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • The rule of portfolio says that we should strive to build a diverse body of work. While the starving artist believes he must master a single skill, the thriving artist masters more than one. Best artists regularly change and evolve; they do not restrict their art to a single form.
  • Thriving artists work like good investors. They do not just live off their art. They keep diverse portfolios and rely on multiple income streams. Building a diverse portfolio requires developing a leaky mental filter for spotting the right places to invest our time and resources.
  • A leaky mental filter is the ability to hold multiple conflicting ideas in tension to create synergy with each other. A skillful exercise of the leaky filter can give us insight into possibility as it allows us to identify new opportunities and take advantage of them.
  • If we want to create enduring work and not just a series of one-hit wonders, we must be open to learning new things. So while starving artists try to master only one skill, thriving artists acquire whatever skills necessary to get the job done.
  • There comes a time not to let our mind wander; instead, we dig in and focus. We focus on developing a body of work rather than just a single creation. Harnessing a distractable mind can be a strength in creative work. We can use our creative quirks to our advantage by identifying opportunities to do fulfilling work that we might have otherwise missed.
  • We must practice using our leaky filters to find new skills, learn them, and apply them. Then, while focusing on the big picture, we will use any skills and tools that will help us develop a more substantial portfolio, which can lead to a lifetime of creation.

In summary, “The Starving Artist masters one craft. The Thriving Artist masters many.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 10

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 10, Own Your Work

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the delicate balance between owning our work and selling out to others. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • As creatives, the Rule of Ownership says our job is to create great work and protect those works. For any creative, the challenge of earning a living is formidable. However, if we sell off everything we make, we can end up starving again. The more we own of our work, the more creative control we have.
  • As an artist, our chief goal should be to make the work great. Sometimes we may need to make sacrifices or even walk away from great opportunities before achieving the goal. We do this not to hoard our gifts but to maintain the control we need to make our work excellent. We should be open to trade a short-term loss for a long-term gain.
  • Ownership is the insurance that can protect us from the gatekeeper system that might work against us. The Starving Artist tends to trust the system and hope it will take care of him. However, taking care of the artists often is not what the system was designed to do. Therefore, the safest place for our work is to stay with us.
  • When the time is right, it might make sense to sell out. We should always do this in the interest of the art, not as an act of desperation. Selling out in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reason is what we need to avoid. We would consider selling out because we believe selling our work to someone who can make it even better.
  • “We must own our masters or our masters will own us.”

In summary, “The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns his work.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 9

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 9, Don’t Work for Free

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the importance of charging appropriately for our work. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Being an artist means that, at some point, we must let people pay us for what we produce. The creative process is about getting to do our work without constraint. Financial compensation is not the point, but it is part of the path to becoming a professional. Charging brings dignity to our work and allows us to keep practicing our art.
  • When we work strictly without financial compensation, we run the risk of devaluing our work. As our work gets better, we must also fight the self-doubt and insecurity of what value we offer. Becoming a thriving artist is not just about making a living; it is also about setting our work up for success. Financial returns become the means to doing more work and producing more art.
  • The matter of art and money is not so much a balancing act. In other words, our craft and the financial compensation can both prosper without overshadowing the other. Our best work often comes from the tension of trying to serve our art while meeting the market’s demand. Creativity and commerce have always coexisted, and these constraints can create unique opportunities in and of themselves.
  • We want to think our work matters, but the world will not recognize this until we firmly believe it does. In this age, art can be business, and business can be art. It is time to stop devaluing our work and charge what we are worth with the right clients.

In summary, “The Starving Artist works for free. The Thriving Artist works for something.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 8

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 8, Practice in Public

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the importance of thriving artists engaging their environments by practicing their craft for others to see. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Many of us equate showcasing or marketing our work as being selfish or self-promotional. While the feeling is understandable, we also need to recognize that our art needs an audience.
  • The Rule of the Audience says that before art can have an impact, it must first have an audience. No one is exempt from this rule, not even Picasso. In the case of Picasso, he was excellent about giving his work to suitable collectors. In essence, Picasso put his work where it has the most significant potential to succeed.
  • If we can accept the reality that all art forms need their audience, it is reasonable to conclude that promotion is not something an artist should avoid. On the contrary, sharing and promoting our work with empathy and care is an essential part of the job.
  • Many thriving artists also share their work by partnering with their audience. We should not wait for the final performance to share our art. To do the work of a professional, we must stop waiting to be seen and start sharing our art now. We can create a positive feedback loop by practicing our work with our audience and monitor the feedback.
  • The point of sharing is to create opportunities to practice. Artists need all the practice they can get.  Over time, all that practice can add up to something – not just the attention of an audience but the skill to support it. Even the most generous of audiences will not tolerate an amateur.
  • When we offer our gift to the world by consistently and sincerely practicing in public, we create the possibility that the world might notice and respond with loyalty. Moreover, as we get better at earning an audience, the sponsorship of our art will allow us to continue creating for years to come.

In summary, “The Starving Artist does his work in private. The Thriving Artist practice in public.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 7

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 7, Collaborate with Others

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the importance of collaborating with others for thriving artists. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • While some successful geniuses chose to work alone, many did their best work when collaborating with others. The new definition of an artist is a visionary who brings people and resources together to create opportunities for our work to flourish. Thus, our success is closely related to our ability to work well with others.
  • Creative output is often a slow and grueling endeavor and, at times, can feel discouraging. However, during those painful moments, we need people to correct our path. Furthermore, creativity works best when it originates from a small community circle instead of a solitary invention.
  • Sometimes we need more than just a loose collective of peers to help us succeed. For those occasions, we might need a more formal group of coworkers or business partners to help us realize our vision. Hire professional help, coordinate, and integrate their work with ours is the job of an artist.
  • If we want to do world-changing creative work, we might need to accept the reality that we likely will not be able to do it alone. So it is the thriving artist’s job to cultivate the circles of collaboration and create a sense of accountability that could drive everyone in the circle to create better work.

In summary, “The Starving Artist always works alone. The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 6

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 6, Go Join a Scene

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the importance of where we do our work and its effect on our work. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Our environment can affect how others perceive our work. One way it does that is by affecting the network we can build in that environment. Different settings allow us to create various networks. Those networks can contribute both positively and negatively to our work.
  • As an artist, we must be good at what we do, but being good is not enough. We must also have access to influential people who can help us spread our work and ideas. A network is our insurance against anonymity.
  • An artist will inevitably ensure many rejections. There will be many people who would reject our work for a variety of reasons. When we get rejected repeatedly, sometimes the best approach is not to work harder but to change the location or the scenery.
  • Not everyone can move to another location on a whim. Sometimes we need to stay where we are. Therefore, it is essential to create a scene or environment conducive to doing our work. There are tools for creating meet-ups and opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect locally. Sometimes the community we need could be right in front of us.
  • Success in any creative field is contingent on the scenes and the networks we are part of. First, we can build a network by contributing more than we take from it. Then, as we make those contributions over time, we will create a group of relationships, or networks, that we can take with us wherever we go.

In summary, “The Starving Artist believes he can be creative anywhere. The Thriving Artist goes where creative work is already happening.”

Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 5

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 5, Cultivate Patrons

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the importance of cultivating patrons who can support our work and succeed with us. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • In creative work, quality is subjective. Subjectivity means that not only we must practice, but also we need patrons for our work. A patron is an advocate who sees our potential and believes in our work. Support from a patron needs not to be just financial. It could be someone who gives us a chance or maybe connects us to the right contacts.
  • Patrons might not be wealthy connoisseurs or influential leaders. They are people who are willing to help to see our work succeed. It is also our job to recognize them and prove themselves worthy of their investment.
  • To attract patrons, we need to be teachable. Being teachable is to demonstrate both competency in our craft and a willingness to learn. In addition, influencers want to help and invest in others, so being teachable will make it easy for them to support our work.
  • Creative work is a team sport –success often comes in the form of artist and patron partnership. Unfortunately, while much of the focus has been on artists finding their patrons, it is easy to miss that patrons also need artists they can believe in and trust.
  • One way to find patrons is to find those people who are already investing in others and reach out to them. If we work hard on our craft and share our competencies, we can find those who can help our work spread. Instead of waiting to be noticed, we look for opportunities to allow ourselves to be taught and molded by those who show genuine interest in our work.

In summary, “The Starving Artist waits to be noticed. The Thriving Artist cultivates patrons.”