Don’t Do It For Money

Photographer Bill Cunningham Is Dead at 87 - artnet News

“If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid.” -Bill Cunningham

I love the documentary on the late, great fashion photographer. Bill Cunningham: New York. I highly, highly recommend it.

It’s a beautiful portrait of someone who was singularly devoted to their craft. Someone full of joy because he got to do what he loved. Every day, all hours of the day.

Bill regularly turned down payment for his work. He often left checks uncashed. He lived like a monk. His reasoning was that when you do it for money, you owe. You can’t make the art you want. You can’t do it on your terms.

We all need to make a living, of course. Bill did too. He worked for The New York Times as their fashion columnist for most of his life. But what happens if we separate money and success from our art? What are we freed up to pursue? To create? What’s something we might do every single day no matter what? What change would we seek to make in the world?

Don’t take the money.

Make your art.

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