The Real Root of All Evil

A lot of arteestic types say they’re too busy or they can’t be bothered to learn about commerce.  Some go so far as to say they’re not interested in material things.  They act as though they enjoy starving.

I call bullshit.

Arteests don’t try to learn about these unfamiliar, uncomfortable topics because it’s scares them.  Don’t underestimate how powerful The Resistance can be, and how easily our fragile egos will trick us into rationalizing away our fears as something–anything–other than what they really are.

Money, in and of itself, is merely a tool that simplifies the exchange of value between people.

For instance: You’re a goat farmer with a broken truck and I’m a truck mechanic.  You might offer me one of your goats as payment for my repairs to your truck.  If I like goat meat, we’ve got a deal.  Now if I’m a vegetarian who hates goat cheese, the goat’s value to me is questionable and the deal is off.  But what if I love goats so much I set the price for the repairs at one-and-a-half goats?

Money is society’s workaround for the one-and-a-half goat problem.  Or, as one of the central characters in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged explains it:

Money is the material shape of the principle that [people] who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value.  Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force.  Money is made possible only by the [people] who produce.  Is that what you consider evil?

Where people and by extension, money, get a bad rap is when they want money without having to provide value for it–Rand’s moochers and looters–or they just accumulate money for the sake of having more without making or doing something meaningful with it.  Like animal hoarders or junk hoarders, money hoarders aren’t much fun to be around.  If all you’re focused on is counting ducats while you ignore your audience and your craft, then you deserve every bit of nothing that heads your way.

If you want to create art for art’s sake, then do that.  Have a blast and don’t worry about the money.  Your art is your gift to society.

But if you’re trying to earn money from your creative efforts, then you need the marketplace–the intersection of art and commerce–because that’s where value is exchanged and, as British writer and metaphysicist Stuart Wilde reminds us, “the Universe cannot mail you a check from the clouds.”  And the better you understand the marketplace and commerce, the better you can “find other humans, satisfy their needs in some way, and have them transfer a little symbology into your bank account.”

It’s an unfortunate fact that most ideas just never happen.

After some extensive research with creatives, Scott Belsky writing in Making Ideas Happen, said that creativity itself is, “the greatest obstacle to seeing our ideas through to the finish.”

Whoa.  A bunch of real, working artists said the thing that goofed up their work the most was their own creativity?

Yep, and it gets worse.  Belsky goes on to identify the series of negative tendencies and challenges that accompany the creative psyche:

  • self-doubts
  • distaste for negative feedback
  • tendency to use idea-generation as a way to escape the pain of self-discipline and execution
  • rampant disorganization that (supposedly) fosters creative thinking

In my humble opinion, this is the real root of all evil… or at least the evil that stands in the way of our success.

Photo by sean94112