Becoming the Illegitimate, Bastard Child of Society

My focus is always on how to move artists and artists groups toward success, expansion and profitability, because, let’s face it, deep down we all want to be doing this for a living, and giving art away for free is not really paying the bills. I want to write on what I believe to be some of the things we all as artists should be doing to continue to move forward to make this dream a reality.

To begin with, I must say, I’ve done this wrong before. That’s the first thing. I’ve been the starving artist before.

I’ve done that.

I’ve been the one living off my credit cards, off unemployment (when I could get it), off two buck Chuck and Ramen noodles. Pasta and rice dishes are cheap.

Then it happened.

I burned out. I couldn’t do it anymore.

Eventually, negativity and my misfortune and my bad decisions began catching up with me.

So I did it. I got a real job. Horror of horrors, right?

But you know what I found? I actually didn’t die.

I thought thought I might. But I survived. And the only way I survived was to have a plan. Having a plan is what kept me going.

To begin with I want to start by telling you my story. Not because I think it’s very interesting or unique or anything. But really because I think it may be your story too. I think it is the story of the artist. And whether you’re in this story now, have been there in the past or are heading to it, most every serious artist shares at least a part of this story.

In some way, at one point or another we, as artists, become or are perceived to be what I refer to as The Illegitimate, Bastard Child of Society.

Let me explain.

We are all familiar with the joke about the Hollywood actor. The one that goes: Oh, you’re an actor, which restaurant to you work at?

I recently filed notice at my job where I was an account executive for a business and financial firm whose clients are comprised of highly-successful entertainment professionals and artists. These artists pay the firm’s bills and put a roof over our heads.

Yet, when I cited my reason for leaving was to become a professional artist? I was told “I don’t think you can make real money doing that.”

Point is, at some point or another you will meet someone who will make you feel that doing your art, going after your dream is illegitimate. And at some point you may feel alone in it – like a bastard child without a home.

That’s why we need support. We need discipline. We need perseverance, self-preservation, belief.

Most of all we need a plan.

Every week I will be writing about all these points and more. Most importantly, I will be writing about some of the hard questions, conclusions and actions you must force upon yourself to actually become a successful artist. I hope you continue join us for next weeks’ topic, Tips for Retiring Your Day Job – where I discuss the plan I laid out and executed to be able to quit my own 9-to-5, to focus on my own art.

Until then remember continue to embrace the Illegitimate, Bastard Child within you, to keep the fire burning, and to be ruthless in the pursuit of your passion.

C.R. Cohen

The Well-Fed Artist – featured in the 9 o’clock hour on Radio Soapbox every Monday night.  Listen live or listen to the archives.

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C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.
About C.R. Cohen
C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.

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