Jeff Goins on Real Artists Don’t Starve, Part 10

In his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, Jeff Goins discusses how we can apply prudent strategies in positioning ourselves for thriving in our chosen field of craft.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 10, Own Your Work

In this chapter, Jeff discusses the delicate balance between owning our work and selling out to others. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • As creatives, the Rule of Ownership says our job is to create great work and protect those works. For any creative, the challenge of earning a living is formidable. However, if we sell off everything we make, we can end up starving again. The more we own of our work, the more creative control we have.
  • As an artist, our chief goal should be to make the work great. Sometimes we may need to make sacrifices or even walk away from great opportunities before achieving the goal. We do this not to hoard our gifts but to maintain the control we need to make our work excellent. We should be open to trade a short-term loss for a long-term gain.
  • Ownership is the insurance that can protect us from the gatekeeper system that might work against us. The Starving Artist tends to trust the system and hope it will take care of him. However, taking care of the artists often is not what the system was designed to do. Therefore, the safest place for our work is to stay with us.
  • When the time is right, it might make sense to sell out. We should always do this in the interest of the art, not as an act of desperation. Selling out in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reason is what we need to avoid. We would consider selling out because we believe selling our work to someone who can make it even better.
  • “We must own our masters or our masters will own us.”

In summary, “The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns his work.”