Thriving artists are entrepreneurs.
This isn’t something new that is made possible only by the Internet. Looking closely at the most well-known artists today, you start to realize they were not the lone geniuses sitting in a studio creating their masterpieces.
In reading Jeff Goins’s Real Artists Don’t Starve, you start to see example after example of artist who think like entrepreneurs throughout history.
William Shakespeare is one of them.
I used to think of this most famous playwright of all time as the artsy poet writing plays to achieve great fame and legendary status. We read those poems in high school, of course, and learned about his life and works as an artist.
It never occurred to me to ask: How did Shakespeare pay for his work? How did he support himself in order to write more plays? How did he write so many extremely popular scripts? How was he able to ensure that each script was actually performed?
The answer is pretty simple: he owned his own company. He was a partner in what became the most successful company of performers in England.
Shakespeare didn’t stop there with business. He used the money he made from the company to purchase property and make investments. He became a very wealthy man not a starving artist.
Is wealth the point? Not really. Shakespeare made money so he could make art. He owned the platform he needed to get his plays on the stage. He had control over the experience and got paid based on the quality of his work. Without that financial success, I have a hard time believing he could have had the artistic success that endures today.
There is a lesson here for all artists today: be both an artist and an entrepreneur.