A couple days ago:
My hubby came over to my desk and asked me an interesting question.
“You wanna see something cool?” he said while beaming.
“Sure!” I replied in astonishment.
We then sat down and started watching a documentary. About creating art. Featuring someone the media calls “an art spammer”. And when the media says that, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are one. It just means that the media is looking for someone to paint as a villain so their story gets more views.
The documentary started off with this guy, Anthony, from Adelaide, Australia.
He was a failed musician.
He started a band with his friends. But they failed to make enough money to support themselves.
So they dis-banded.
(pardon the pun)
And he ended up in desperate straits. Because he wanted to create art for a living. But he couldn’t make enough of a living doing it.
So one day…
… he ended up searching the internet for clues on how to make a good living doing the art he loved – making music…
… and his search led him to…
… Matt Farley…
… who is one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. Writing over 22,000 songs to date. And making a decent $65,000 a year just from streaming and downloads of his songs from what I’ve read.
This figure doesn’t include what he earns from television and movie films using his music. And it also doesn’t include the income he gets from sponsorships by companies who want him to make music for them.
Anthony decides to contact Matt.
Matt agrees to mentor Anthony in the ways of the middle-class artist.
And the series begins with Anthony flying off to the United States to learn Matt’s prolific ways.
An incredibly interesting documentary series. Really.
I seriously learned a lot.
Some of the things I learned?
1. Quantity leads to Quality.
As creative professionals, we often censor our own ideas. Because we worry that they aren’t good enough.
We want to create masterpieces.
Amazing hits that everyone will love. And no one will criticize.
But in doing so, we end up limiting ourselves. And our work. With fear. And we end up creating much less than we could.
We end up not making a lot of stuff that would have been terrible. BUT… we also end up NOT making a lot of stuff that would have been EPIC.
Quantity doesn’t equal quality.
But it often leads to it in the end. If you create 20,000 pieces of art, chances are high that 1% or even 0.5% of that is gonna be a world-changing best-seller.
2. Don’t censor yourself.
The thing I like about Matt’s approach to art is that…
… he doesn’t censor himself.
He doesn’t just put out the art he thinks is great.
He puts out EVERYTHING.
The good. The bad. The ugly.
And this creates a very forgiving environment where… he doesn’t criticize himself… or care about the criticism of others… and allows his creativity to steer the way.
3. All you need is one hit.
Watching the documentary, I kept being reminded of something a famous artist once said:
All you need is one world-changing, chart-topping mega hit…
All the lousy work you created in the past becomes Collector’s Items that people everywhere will fight over and auction for millions and millions of dollars.
Were Van Gogh’s first paintings (when he just got started learning) awesome?
Just like any beginner paintings, they were trash.
But are they worth millions of dollars today?
You know the answer…
So why would you censor yourself and discard the work you think isn’t good enough?
4. It helps a lot if you niche down.
While Matt did all sorts of songs… ranging from novelty songs where he just sang one person’s name over and over again… to more celebratory songs like those singing about someone’s graduation…
… he didn’t put all those songs together.
He put each category of song under separate Artist Names.
– The Artist Who Sings People’s Names Over And Over Again
– The Artist Who Sings About Country Names
– The Toilet Cleaners (an artist persona he created to sing about poop)
Why not be all things to all people you ask?
Because… psychologically… people automatically look at someone with a narrow range of expertise and have a better impression of them, treating them like experts.
Think about how much a Brain Surgeon makes compared to your General Practitioner doctor.
So if you have multiple interests?
You might want to put them in a separate business.
5. Double down on what’s working
You know what really got Matt started churning out songs like there’s no tomorrow?
He just created some songs for fun on Spotify and iTunes.
He checked sometime later and realized he made a whopping whole $2.
But then it hit him…
“Wait. If I can make $2 a year uploading a song or two. What if I created 10,000 songs and uploaded them? Wouldn’t that be $20,000 a year? And what about 20,000 songs?”
Turns out he ended up making way more than that.
Because when you have THAT many songs in your portfolio, some of them are uncontrollably going to end up becoming smash hit singles. Whether by luck or by skill.
But here’s the thing:
Most people do something. And they make a little money doing it. And then they stop.
Not realizing that…
… if they just doubled-down on what was working…
… no matter how small the success was…
… and did it over and over again…
… the money they made would exponentially multiply.
As the late, great John Wooden (who was once named the winningest coach in history) once said:
“Success = Simplicity + Repetition”
If you’ve been using my artwork to make your own creative masterpieces, and you’ve been making sales with them, and even hitting bestseller status left and right with all your new products like some of our fans are… why stop there?
Why not get even more of my art and create even more masterpieces and get even more sales?
I know it sounds simple. Too simple to accept.
… why knock what’s working?
He he. 🙂
“Art Spammer In Training”
P.S. One last thing I learned from Matt:
Were all his songs life-changing, world-shattering hits?
And he got criticized by a lot of people for that.
But did his songs make people laugh?
Heavens yeah they did.
(Especially his poop songs which became some of his top pieces.)
And what type of person would begrudge another person for making others laugh and have some cheer in their day?
No matter what you’re doing, make sure you have fun.
100 years from now, we’ll all be 6 feet underground anyway.
So don’t take things too seriously. 🙂
And happy designing.
(Inspired by Matt, I did create a fun new piece too recently, so do feel free to check it out in my store when you have time…)