The Difference Between an Artist and a Business Person

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Here are two points we need to recognize:

1. It’s okay to be an artist with business goals.

I worry most artists believe money is evil and business people are all crooks. To engage in any form of capitalism is surely a betrayal of what art is, right?


There are actually several artists with business sense. They are making better art at a bigger scale than most people could possibly dream of.

You may have heard of these:

  • Steven King
  • Spike Lee
  • Lil Wayne
  • James Cameron
  • George Lucas

You have only heard of these people because of their talent AND their business acumen.

I once said to my friend:

“I almost feel guilty making money.”

He said:

“Todd, if you don’t make money, you will never be able to create the art you are capable of because you will never free up the time to do so.”

I think he’s onto something.

2. It’s NOT okay for the conception of art to be driven by business goals

What matters is the source of the spark.

The artist who spends his time trying to identify what is popular and replicate that, you will always be behind the curve.

It’s the nature of being a follower.

The artist is never behind the curve and, in fact, is probably unaware a curve even exists, choosing to spend her time instead on that squiggly line she just found in the corner.

J.K. Rowling didn’t think “Boy, you know what I think would be a smashing best-seller? A 12-year-old with who runs around saying Latin-rooted words and waving a stick!”

No, she wrote was her in her heart. The idea came first, not the market.

The businessman who follows trends ends up wealthy.

But the artist who follows trends ends up empty.

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One thing artists and business people have in common…

…is ideas.

Whether you are trying to play the game and make some money, dive within yourself to create your best art, or perform a mixture of the two, you must have ideas to exist.

I’m giving away my book — The Ultimate Guide to Infinite Ideas — away for the price of an email address.

You can get that right here.

— TB

Written by

An optimist who writes.

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