It is easy for an artist to become enamored with the fruits of their career, conflating critical praise and financial comfort with creative merit and ability in a marketplace where merit is largely predicated on sales and the size of an artist’s platform. Over time, this results-driven outlook can upstage an artist’s intuitive voice, resulting in an artist’s mimicry of past creative—or in the case of artists looking to breakout from a lukewarm career of anonymity, an artist’s conformity to the supply and demand of the marketplace to achieve financial success—with both scenarios ultimately leading to passive creativity and disillusionment. Amidst the economic realities and competitive pressures of a results-driven marketplace, how can artists and creatives facilitate healthy careers and creative growth, and avoid going through the motions for financial gain?
When the focus of an artist’s career remains anchored in honoring the call to create with truth and intentionality, their nutritional needs towards personal and creative growth and satisfaction are continually met throughout the highs and lows of their career. By practicing detachment and redirecting their hunger and attention towards exploring the purpose behind their gift and the source of their creativity, an artist effectively detoxes their creative space of superficial appetites—crystallizing and firming creative blueprints, motive and intent.
Jazz master, vocalist and storyteller, Abbey Lincoln previously shared her thoughts on the centering of her creative work in purpose and its sustenance towards her personal and career development:
“If I wanted to be a superstar and have everybody know my name and be rich I never would have come to this musical form. I would have stayed an actress and done anything they asked me to do. But I didn’t come to the work for this. I didn’t know this. It was a development of my life. But I know this now. There is something that is a lot more important to me.”
In parallel, within scripture, Christ spoke on the benefits of true sustenance through reliance on his word and relationship with the Creator. The day following his miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the crowd followed him to Capernaum—their focus centered on the outward demonstrations and gains of his creative power. On their arrival, Christ answered:
“I am telling you the truth: you are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. Do not work for food that spoils; instead work for the food that lasts for eternal life—Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. But the bread of heaven is such a kind that whoever eats it will not die.”
Conversely, when an artist’s appetite becomes solely fixed on monetary gain and external markers of success, the opportunity for lasting fulfillment and sustenance eludes them, potentially leading to an emaciated creativity and career track.
By remaining anchored in purpose and honoring their call to create with truth and intentionality, artists and creatives can harness and sustain lasting fulfillment through varying seasons and circumstances of the creative career.