"Oh, I would have done music (or art, or writing, or something more creative) but I didn't want to ruin it by turning it into a JOB"  

Every time I hear it I cringe, and I hear it pretty much immediately after I tell someone I make music for a living. I come from folks who have always had to worry about money multiple generations back, and among those people  there is this belief that it is natural to separate your unique talents and drives from the work you do to feed yourself. A job is "just a job", you do it because you have to in order to survive and that's it. Your value is derived from your "hard work" which is like code for "suffering through something you resent". In that kind of a reality I can understand the confusion. 

There are a ton of legitimate reasons not to make art for a living: you want to raise a family and the insecurities and challenges of an art career would get in the way. You have another career that you enjoy doing full time and you are happy just using art to unwind.  You tried doing it full time and decided it wasn't for you. If someone said "I love art, but I didn't feel called to make a career out of it" that's completely different than "I didn't want to ruin it by making it a job."  The first is a statement of personal preference, the second perpetuates the belief that art is somehow more pure if it isn't stained by commerce. 

 

What is it about the act of receiving money that feels so dangerous to creativity?

  The simple answer, it forces us into asking some scary questions: where does the value of art come from? Is it something others decide or does it come from within, or maybe some mix of both? In the face of these questions it is much easier to tell yourself that you're an undiscovered talent while hiding in your garage, never putting yourself into the position of being "discovered" and passed over.  It's easier to resent people for not "understanding" you than it is to honestly confront the fear that you might not be as good as you think you are.  It's easier to do just enough, just until you start feeling resistance, and then stop and tell people it was because you didn't want to "ruin it" 

 Being a career artist is a commitment to the muse to confront the fear that keeps you from embodying the fullest, most honest, most beautiful integration of it. Like any love it demands growth or death.  It means learning to advocate for yourself not only against the doubts within your mind, but out in the world. It is trusting that your passion is deep enough, and knowing that this life is really what you want with all your heart.  It means having the courage to ask for what your time and creativity is worth even in the face of rejection. It means not only loving yourself, but loving other artists enough not to undercut them by working for free. It means rebelling against the systematic plasticization of beauty and the consumeristic co-optation of ingenuity to sell more shit.  

If you are at the precipice of your comfort zone push through, let yourself be transformed by what comes next. Even if you don't magically "make it", placing your passion at the forefront shifts everything around to be more true to who you are. So make what you love a "job". It won't ruin it, I promise.

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