"The Marketplace is the Enemy of the Artist" and other lies Orson Welles told us...
So, I love Orson Welles. He's one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived, managed to more or less invent an entire genre of storytelling (so much Film Noir started with him, plus the personality driven documentary to just name two.) He conquered a bunch of different industries before slowly losing his rep in Hollywood. And then he spent thirty years making incredible films under horrific circumstances. That video up above is from a few days before he died.
In it he says something I've seen people quoting all week.
"The Marketplace is the Enemy of the Artist."
Far be it for me to call bullshit on the patron saint of fighting the powers that be, but... The fact is his success and freedom early in his career was BECAUSE of the marketplace. Because he built up his reputation to a point that a studio gave him money, final cut, and complete authority, despite having only really done a few student art films before hand.. They trusted his success with the Mercury Theater on the Air and in the Theater.
I could go on about the mistakes he made in his career and the missed opportunities he seemed to thrive on. But that's not the part that bugs me.
The idea that making a living by making art somehow makes you a sell out, THAT's what bugs me.
I've got bad news for you, Orson. Unless you're a rich kid or have a wealthy patron, finding a way to live off your art is, in fact, the whole point. I do what I do because it's not only my most marketable skill, but it's something I genuinely enjoy doing. Do I sometimes do jobs just for the money? Honestly, not that frequently, but, yes, I've done it in the past. But, some of those jobs have become some of my favorite (and my fans favorite) work.
For example... I wrote two MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE comics. Despite being the right age, I have almost no warm memories or fuzzy feelings for the furry underpants gang, but, it was a job, and I found something that excited me. I loved writing both of those books, and I do think they're some of the best work for hire comics I've ever done.
Hell, I, VAMPIRE, while something I loved as a kid, was a job I took because it was a good solid paycheck while my wife was struggling with cancer. It's one of the most definitive pieces of my work, and what people most associate me with (and my longest run on a series), but, it was just a job. A job I loved and cherished, and fought tooth and nail for the quality and purity of what we were doing.
But, there still came a day when they said, "This is ours, we want you to do it this way, or you're fired." And, I managed to find a way to make it my own and keep it going on, well maybe not my own terms, but terms that were acceptable for all involved.
Making money from your work is no more of a sin for an artist than it is for a carpenter or a doctor. Finding a way to focus all of your energy into that creative work, as far as I'm concerned is the very objective of an artist. Only by freeing yourself of the distractions and interruptions of your non-creative life, can you actually get to the bit where creating is actually truly gratifying.
Please. Make money from your art. Make as much money as humanly possible. Because then, you get to satisfy one of those two conditions that allows someone in this day and age to create art for art's sake. You get to be a rich kid. Or, at this rate, a rich middle aged kid.