Turning Art Into A Profession – The Climb #231

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Turning Art Into A Profession – The Climb #231

Saturday 9th September 2017

Today was a gaming day.  Given I have to be up early on Sundays and that I’m often behind on sleep come the end of the week I like to try and get a lay in on Saturday.  It rarely goes beyond 9am no matter how hard I try.

I got up and did some admin work, before diving into some more Warcraft.  My original plan was to go into town to return some broken headphones, but after much “is it on?”  “Is it today?” on Facebook it was confirmed that our boardgaming night was indeed on and I needed to leave the house by 5pm.

Given that by the time I ate brunch it was 2pm and I had some other things to do, I decided to get those done and use the spare time to use invasions to get a couple of my alts to a higher level in Warcraft.

This evening we played Shadows of Brimstone.  I love this game.  It’s a dungeon crawler of a boardgame that plays like an RPG.  It’s got a Weird West feel and the basic premise is that you venture down mines, find portals to other worlds and then kill a big bad.  What’s unusual is that your XP and items carries over, and you actually level your character up over games.

It also has a ton of expansions with even more on the way.  Different worlds, different bad guys.  There’s even an expansion that expands on the town at the start of the game where you buy and sell items ready for the adventure ahead.

But it does a really good job of throwing a seemingly impossible situation at you, and then just makes it worse.  Yet somehow, we always seem to just pull through.

But it is quite nihilistic in nature.  You take a card and wonder if it’s a bad thing or a really bad thing.  Case in point we needed to travel to the store outside town so we had to roll for an event.  What happens?  We roll a number that on the incident chart, basically sees the store explode and get swallowed up by a demonic portals and leave a load of flailing tentacles in its place.  And this is before the adventure has even started.  Other characters have spent a night in a hotel only for a tornado to suck them out in their sleep and kill them.

But the constant feeling of “Oh shit we’re going to die”  makes the game a lot of fun and I really enjoy playing it, even if I’ve missed a load of sessions of late due to novel work.

Something that came out of conversation this evening was the fact that my friend believes it’s next to impossible to make money out of art.  His wife is an incredibly talented artist and I made the point that no-one would have thought it was possible to be a successful graphiti artist until Banksy came along.  He’s counter to this is whether I can name another successful graphiti artist.

I thought a bit about this.  Because on one hand I get what he’s saying.  Making art professionally is hard and you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment.  So I wondered what it is that makes a commercial artist, be it drawing, painting or even writing or music.

Again, I think it’s the game of contrasts.  On one hand, I think you should make the art you want to.  It’s not necessary to know the trend of the day or even being able to somehow foretell it.  I think instead, it’s about knowing your own tastes and doubling down on those.  So if Zombie Steampunk Elves is your thing, then you should stick to your guns to some extent and just write the best Zombie Steampunk Elves you can.

But at the same time, you can’t ignore market and have at least a partial commercial head on your shoulders.  It’s almost as if every way you differ from the norm deducts 10% off some score where 100% is completely generic.  If you hit 100% you’ll just be bland and like everyone else.  Differ in too many ways, and you’ll hit around 30% and it’ll be too different for anyone to pick up.  But at around 80%, that’s the commercial sweet spot.  That’s when you are similar enough for publishers and booksellers to know where to place you, but different enough to get the reader’s interest.

So sure, you can write a book about Zombie Space Elves, but it needs to be more conformist in other ways.

And so if your talent is good, but there’s nothing unique about it, then you’ll be unlikely to succeed.  In which case, that’s when you need to find a hook.  But if you’re too out there, it’s unlikely that people will connect to you on mass.  Banksy might use graphitti but his visuals are very accessible, and even the political commentary that comes from them is easily understandable.

It’ll be interesting to see whether my opinion on this changes years down the line, but I do hate it when people discourage others (even if it’s with the best of intentions).  Instead I’d rather they tell them just how much hard work it’s going to be.  One of the reasons for starting The Climb was to show just how much work it takes.

However, that said, I am still on ‘vacation’, and spent the whole day playing games, so perhaps I’m not the best example right now.

If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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2017-09-10T17:02:26+01:00September 10th, 2017|Games, Publishing, The Climb|0 Comments

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