Independence. Pass it On.

So many artists, following graduation from school, flee to either New York or LA. What a shame. These markets are so oversaturated. Artists have been flocking to these cities for decades and there are, in these cities, tons and tons of under working or non-working artists. Meanwhile, these artists’ gifts, energies, vision and skills are not being given to the communities (or surrounding) communities from which they came. The Hero Journey is about a departure and a return. That which is missing in the beginning, is obtained and the hero returns and shares the treasures of their adventure.

Our large and small communities across America need arts entrepreneurs. Because so many artists flee for NY and LA, the communities, cities and states which raised the artists, do not benefit from their community member’s talents.

I urge artists to consider going away from LA and NY. With modern technology being what it is, it is now possible for many types of artists to live where they would like to live—rather than where they feel they must. Artists can now, more easily, and live in environments that inspire them and, consequently, lead them towards more inspiration and creative work.

Go to places where the markets are not oversaturated. Build a brand. Carve out a niche, fill a gap, respond to a community need. That is the best way of increasing your chances of making a living—not by relying wholly on other people for your creative employment, but creating it yourself. Such a path, you many find, can be far more rewarding than putting all of ones eggs in the “hopefully one day I will be famous” basket.

Most artists I know want to be loved and appreciated by the masses—appreciated not just for the superficial aspects of the business, but also for their special inherent talents. They want to be loved as artists—by artists and by an adoring public. I have been party to this thinking. I used to dream of the time I would be living in fantastic fortune (even with great wealth)—as a result of my gifts and hard work.

You know what? I do.  My wife and I have a glorious lifestyle and I feel that I have abundance, balance and create fulfillment in my life. Do I live in NY or LA? No. I live in Austin, TX. I am 5th generation TX and love living in a culture as cool, varied, and progressive as Austin. I have created enough opportunity for myself (profitable opportunity), that I am able to invest my energies towards other creative projects, in my process of carving out my own niche. I say this, to demonstrate my putting my money where my mouth is.

Did I create my lifestyle by working for scraps and playing the lottery in the big cities? No. I went to Asia for a year, Norway for four, did some time in NYC and now live in Austin. I definitely got off of the path…pretty far. In fact, I created my own. I urge you to do the same. There is more than one road to Rome. Creating one’s own path can be absolutely terrifying, but can also be electrifying. You do not know what is going to happen next (but you never do, anyhow). You will likely take more responsibility in how you engage others, but that sounds like a plus, to me. Self leadership is not for everyone, but can you imagine if it was?

The coolest thing about opportunities of your own making, is that they can be of your own choosing. They can contain personal meaning for you. The pieces can be inspired from your personal experience and will, inevitably, contain a part of you. It is intimidating, I admit, to think about taking on additional responsibilities (of course, the independent artist must wear many hats, to truly be independent). But, think about this: Your creation can be of your own structure, working with those you want to work with–perhaps people who might even share your vision and passions. Finding those key collaborators is important, at times. When you do find them, do as Polonius says in Hamlet–“grapple them to your soul with hoops of steal”. When you are in a position of job-giver, the world is a very different place from that of a job-seeker. The transition can be incredibly empowering and you will find that doors open, which you did not know were previously even there. Whatever you want to create, whatever vibe you want it to have, whatever profit structure you want to have in place, how you want it to look, feel and be…is up to you…and the market…and destiny (which you create and will be meeting half way).

Like any great work of art you may have worked on, you may have found, as most artists do, that it is not the completion of the product that is so personally inspiring, but the process of its creation. The building, the process is what it is all about.

Independence. Pass it on.

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