While there are hundreds of artists we know who are working hard and finding a tremendous amount of success for themselves, we tend to find real inspiration from those who win the lottery and stumble into dream careers. I’ve always reprimanded my own Alma Mater because they’ll push Mary Louise Parker right to the front as an example of a “successful alumnus” but what they don’t realize is that they’re promoting the same BS we were taught when we were there that somehow we’ll get this fantastic training and end up with a wildly successful, sustainable career.
At the same time, it’s hard to fault them entirely because we, as artists, seem to be inspired by that very fantasy and as we’ve long explored in these posts, our own training and industry lacks the structure or business know-how as it is.
I watch artists as they look on in awe of some of their colleagues who stumbled across the gold mine and put stock and faith into the idea that they’re going to climb the exact same fantastical ladder.
Subsequently, the idea of having to do the, dare I say, real work is not only disappointing but seemingly false. Their inner monologue is screaming “But look at INSERT NAME HERE. They did it. I’ll find my way, too.”
And there is a possibility. Don’t let me take that away from you. But then there’s the very real likelihood that it will take a bit more get up and go in the form of focus, discipline and organization to bring about the career you know you’re capable of having.
I’m not proposing that we somehow lose the inspiration that comes from that exciting and deep rooted fantasy but instead re-channel what it energizes us to do. So – rather than using the fantasy to keep on with some general creating and “industry standard” only business efforts (general submissions, Instagram only marketing, lots of waiting, etc.), use the fantasy and inspiration to build the business you know you deserve.
Use the fantasy to picture the future you want to have and pave a path towards it.
The rubric of Artist’s Strategy is identifying where you want to go and breaking down, by department, how you’re going to achieve those goals with mile markers along the way. Your fantasy is what inspires the work not what stops it.
The Grinch Who Stole Fantasies (and turned them into realities)