Do you always have to think about money?

A recent post on your blog talks about having challenging goals for which you can focus your energy on. You also mention you need to be able to make money doing it. Does that mean the only worthwhile goals that you focus on and try to reach everyday are ones that you can eventually make money from?

4 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Certainly there are many worthwhile goals that do not involve money. Making time to have sex with your partner, for example. (Although now that I write this, I think we could, in a stretch, argue that everything is about money — even making sure your kids are safe. But I’m not going to make that argument.)

    The problem is that we only have so many hours in the day. Most adults have to earn a living and/or take care of children. That takes a lot of time and energy. Most adults also want to have a significant other — someone who they love most and the person loves them back. That type of relationship takes time and energy as well.

    What is left is maybe, for lucky people, time enough for one hobby and some close friends and family.

    My point is that we spend most of our time earning money, so we should spend most of our time considering our goals for earning money. By the same token, if you spend an hour a day doing art then you should spend a commensurate amount of time in your day figuring out the best plan for how to spend that hour and what it’s leading up to.


  2. Gavin
    Gavin says:

    Using your example of art in the mailbag, if a person practices say painting, takes classes in painting, moves across the country to study under the best art teachers and spends a significant portion of time and money on this but doesn’t really think it lead to any monetary payoff directly, is this unwise?
    If it is unwise then it seems to run against your “Don’t do what you love” column that postulates that it’s unnecessary to get paid to do what you love because you would be doing it anyway.

  3. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    In general, if we cannot maintain a stable life, we cannot be close to people we love. We need to be able to earn money and care for ourselves and other people and be able to put those things before art for the sake of art. When there is time and energy left over, then there is room for other things.

    Rarely, someone emerges who is so drawn to something that he or she will do it at the expense of close relationships. Melville letting his kids starve while he writes Moby Dick. Picasso constantly hooking up with a woman because he wanted her in his art, and dumping her when he was done. Muriel Spark giving up her son to someone else to raise so she could write. Mother Theresa being everyone’s friend but close to no one.

    If you are one of those people, then traveling all over the world in the name of your art makes sense. But you know early if you are one of those people. You are drawn to your oeuvre in an insane way.

    Otherwise, earning money and creating stability for people you love means more to you than the passion. And you just need to own that. Most people are not Melville. It’s fine.


  4. Ebriel
    Ebriel says:

    “If you are one of those people, then traveling all over the world in the name of your art makes sense. But you know early if you are one of those people. You are drawn to your oeuvre in an insane way.”

    As someone who’s traveled around the world to do just that, I have to agree. You do know it pretty early on. And it leads to many insane and unstable years. It’s hard on your relationships and on your finances.

    But money always comes into play. Always. As I prepare for my next project in China, my first concern is: how is this going to pay for itself, and pay me?

    Most professional artists spend at least an hour of marketing for every hour creating art. For me, it’s often been double that — two hours of marketing related activities. This is because I usually coordinate my own exhibits rather than working with gallerists who handle a lot of the admin (and take 50% of the profits).

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