Working within the confines of selling our work has the potential to crush our artistic souls if we allow it in without interrogation.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we live within many systems and we cannot live outside of it for a certain degree. But if you want to make it work in your favor or feel less beholden to it, Chanel Dubofsky, a writer on reproductive health, religion, feminism, and pop culture, believes that artists need to follow their instincts.
Listening to your instincts and learning to pay attention to them alone is a big win because the system has programmed us to work out of that.
You can’t buck the system entirely, but you can decide what you want and what you’re willing to sacrifice to sell your work. For example, you can choose a small independent press to work with instead of sacrificing the essence of your work for a big publisher.
Rashmi Vaish, a writer, journalist and poet, says instead of bucking the system, artists can learn to play with it. You can choose to walk away from it and re-enter it at different points in your life.
And this is okay.
Because an artist’s life is spent negotiating between both monetary and artistic survival.
In one moment of your life, monetary survival may be more important than artistic survival. And in another moment, the survival of the artistic self, the intention of the statement that you are making with your art, that may be more important than the monetary survival.
For Jason Brandt Schaefer, a novelist, artist, and songwriter, being able to criticize the system from within the system is itself a part of why we do what we do. As artists and writers, we use language to talk about our culture, criticize our blindspots and what we’re doing wrong.
Therefore, working within the confines of selling our work in inevitable, but we can of course leverage the free will of an artist to do it in our way.
Shafeeka Hafeez grew up escaping into a world of books where she discovered a love for writing and a fascination with trees. When she’s not taking up a new marketing skill, or typing out a blog post, you can find her Googling the best therapy for abandoned cats.