Risky Business

“Sometimes you gotta say What the Fuck’, make your move. Joel, every now and then, saying ‘What the Fuck’, brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future. So your parents are going out of town. You got the place all to yourself.” -advice that Miles gives to Joel in the film Risky Business

“Studies by the activist group BFAMFAPhD revealed that only 10 percent of the two million arts graduates in the United States make their primary living as artists, that 85 percent of artists in NYC have day jobs unrelated to the arts and that the other 15 percent have median incomes of $25,000. Like everything else, the market for art is a winner-takes-all. In 2018, just twenty individuals accounted for 64 percent of total sales by living artists.” -William Deresiewicz, book The Death of the Artist

I’ve heard it said that 95 percent of commercial success in the arts is luck. If you agree with that premise, then you have two choices.

One…Get lucky. Be one of the few who squeeze in. Nothing wrong with that plan as long as you know it’s what you want, are incredibly specific, commit to doing a shitload of often un-fun, “businessy” things for a long ass period of time with no guarantee of advancement and often no end in sight.


Two…Not give a fuck about commercial success.

Earn a living somewhere else that doesn’t crush your soul. Live modestly. Be ruthlessly disciplined. Any free time that you have, MAKE your art. Show up every day. Day after day. Ship. You’ll have a body of work that when all is said and done, you’ll look back and think, “Damn…I made some good art with some good people. I grew as a human being and artist and had fun in the process.”

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