Having an Ethos of Art (And Not Business)

For anyone who’s seriously attempting to make a living from their work in a creative field, you’re all too familiar with the ultimate (but inevitable nevertheless) curb to the creative process: time. Whether it’s a deadline that your boss or freelance client has set for you, or one you’ve assigned yourself so you don’t end up working on a single project forever, an aspiring content creator always seems to have less time on their hands than they’d like. If you’ve never experienced this before, you’re either new at this, a prodigy in your field, or you may want to reconsider your strategy so as to create a steady flow of content in a timely manner.

This is something that, as you’ve probably read in my past posts, I’ve recently been struggling with this side of the process with my Cloudland Connections album project. Regardless of whether or not having a set release date when I’m still fairly early in production is a good idea, having at least a rough estimate of how long you’d like to spend on any given project is a healthy (and dare I say necessary) practice to have, and it also gives a sense of long-term clarity, so when you’re caught up in short-term frustration, you don’t find yourself feeling like you’re endlessly sprinting into a void.

However, once you’ve solidified that mindset of time-efficient production, it’s all too easy to forget the most important part of the work: creativity.

Now, for some of you reading this, this may sound pretty silly, but most of my posts come from personal experience, so whatever. Here’s an example: the track I’m currently writing has the working title of Lazy Grey Skies, and it carries with it the idea of a cool, calm, overcast day, with wind chimes gently jangling somewhere within earshot. I often use visuals for inspiration, and the photo on the left is what I’ve had my laptop wallpaper set as in order to help with that. Also, I’ve set myself a desired finish date of April 3, and I plan on having the piece be at least twelve minutes in length. Yeah, see where I’m going with this? I’ve practically set myself up for panic with those credentials alone, and for the past few days, I’ve been scrambling to get all my ducks in a row. I keep freaking out and thinking to myself, “Oh, no! I haven’t written as much music as I’d planned today! I’m going to have to up my daily quota in order to reach the desired piece length in time!”

STOP. This is where I had to catch myself in order to realize what I was doing. Can you guess what I was doing wrong? Well, for one thing, I was stressing, which never helps anything except for making me more prone to error and ratcheting up my blood pressure. What I’m really getting at, though, is the fact that I was putting quotas, quantity, and deadlines before the one thing that really matters—the art of it.

If you’re someone who’s also looking to make a career out of their art, I invite you to take a step back with me and analyse the big picture of why you do what you do. Why do I create music? Well, because I love it. I fell in love with the beauty, the intricacy, and the rush of emotion that music produces. I’m prone to stress and overstimulation, and I want to provide people with music that they can play and find a sanctuary of sorts within their daily lives. That’s why I do what I do.

Because of this, the quality of my work should always come first. Yes, all aforementioned aspects of commercially producing music are good things to keep in mind overall, as is the prospect of being able to make money from what I do. That’s not greed in of itself, it’s just common sense. I need to eat, I need have proper hygiene, and I need a place to sleep. However, profit comes from people who view your work and are able to identify with it and recognize the effort and love you’ve put into it, so much so that they’re willing to say, “Yeah, I’ll definitely lay down $7 if I get to listen to this wherever”, or, “Yeah, I can give up a few bucks every month if it helps this guy do what he does”. True, there will always be people who are never satisfied with the speed in which you publish your work, but those who truly love what you do will understand and respect that making art at the level of quality they’ve come to enjoy takes time.

In summary, try and plan ahead to keep the ball rolling, but don’t beat yourself up constantly when your craft takes time. For most of us, creating good art doesn’t come as easily as breathing does, nor should it. With that said, it’s time for me to go make something lovely out of Lazy Grey Skies. Thanks for tuning in, everyone.

Featured image credit: aisletwentytwo on Flickr | CC 2.0 | Cropped, Color Correction

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