My new book Real Artists Don’t Starve is coming out soon and I’m giving away some really cool bonuses if you preorder.
Along with the bonuses that come with preordering my new book, I’m sharing some of my favorite lessons from Real Artists Don’t Starve. Here’s the first:
The Starving Artist waits to be noticed.
The Thriving Artist cultivates patrons.
When we see someone succeed with their art, we often chalk this success up to luck. But is that what’s really happening?
At the same time, was it just talent that allowed them to succeed?
Behind most creative geniuses, there is an invisible influencer making it all happen. These people lend their influence to help creative talents succeed, introducing them to people and opportunities they would not encounter otherwise.
The Rule of the Patron
Before you reach an audience of many, you must first please an audience of one.
Every artist needs a patron. Without one, your success becomes exponentially more difficult; with one, it becomes not only possible but probable.
Starving Artists disdain the need for patrons. It feels disempowering, even beneath them.
On the other hand, Thriving Artists respect the Rule of the Patron and use it to their advantage. All creative workers need influencers who will vouch for them to an audience who doesn’t know them yet. But it is not enough to meet a patron; you must cultivate one.
The publisher who pays an author’s book advance is a patron. The venture capitalist who funds a startup in Silicon Valley is one too. But so is the church who gives a minister a salary or the donors who support nonprofit organizations around the world.
Patrons do not just make the arts possible; they make the world we inhabit—and so often take for granted—possible. Our job isn’t to wait for patrons to come to us but to find and cultivate these relationships, wherever they may be.
Patrons do not just make the arts possible; they make the world we inhabit possible.
So, where are today’s patrons? Do they even exist anymore? In the New Renaissance, patrons are not some elite class of influencers. They are all around us.
The budget of a band
My first year out of college I traveled across North America playing music with a band. As the group’s leader, I oversaw setting up gigs ahead of time, coordinating with event planners and hosts, and making sure everyone arrived at the show on time.
It was a lot of hard work, long days, and cold casseroles. But one factor made the work possible: the fact that we didn’t have to do it alone.
Moving from city to city, our band would play shows in exchange for donations and meals; we were always at the mercy of other people’s generosity. Wherever where we went, we met someone who would make sure we found a good meal, warm bed, and sometimes even a hot shower.
For a year, we lived off the good nature of other people, staying in their homes and eating their food, getting to make our art. Everything we did that year cost something: the gasoline for the van, the meals on the road, the occasional night in a hotel when we couldn’t find a host home.
It all had to be paid for by someone.
My six bandmates and I didn’t have to worry about any of that, though, because there were people concerned about those things for us. They paid our bills and took care of our expenses; they hosted events for us and took us into their homes.
These people were our patrons. They were not wealthy connoisseurs or influential leaders. They were ordinary people who used their resources to help our art thrive. Certainly, there can be value in connecting with an influential tastemaker, but sometimes, the patron you need is the person right in front of you.
It’s our job to recognize them and prove ourselves worthy of their investment.
May you do just that.
To download a free excerpt of the Cultivate Patrons chapter from my book, click here.
Real Artists Don’t Starve comes out soon. If you preorder the book before then, you’ll get a 12-part online video course, expert interview transcripts, and access to a private community.
All you have to do is:
- Buy the book at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound).
- Forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I’ll send you the bonuses.
How does The Rule of the Patron apply to your craft? Who is someone that has supported your art? Share in the comments.