The 3 Stages of an Artist’s Work: Transaction, Compromise, Gift

What if the point of ending up being an expert artist or writer was not what you believed it was? What if success wasnt the supreme goal? What if each phase of your journey, even the frustrating ones, was a necessary stage to much better comprehend what it is youre here to do?

Listen to more on this post:

Podcast: Play in brand-new window|Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts|Android |

And so, as we relocate the instructions of what we call our “dream,” the life we believe we want and the work our company believe we deserve, we may experience an evolution of epiphanies in how we comprehend this occupation. A minimum of, thats what Ive discovered. There is a path an artist can pursue that consists of a series of stages through which all of us need to pass to deepen our understanding of what our true work is. I think of each of these as a necessary step, an initiation right, in becoming who we are.

My work, as I comprehend it, is to motivate and empower imaginative people to share their art with the world. Whether thats assisting a writer finish her book or motivating a photographer to charge what he should have, my role is to nudge people along the path, helping them find a method to do what is truthful and real and seems like a work they can believe in.

In imaginative work, there is a spectrum from “starving” to “sellout,” and somewhere in the middle is where most of us discover ourselves. And so, this work exposes itself to us in phases.

I myself totter along this path as an author, teacher, speaker, poet, and human, trying to figure it out. Every day, I learn something brand-new about myself through this work, highlighting the words of my pal and mentor (a title at which he would definitely balk) Steven Pressfield: “The artist produces not as an act of self-expression but as an act of self-discovery.” We are all figuring out who we are through what we do.

Stage 1: Transaction

It works or it doesnt. This may take place a couple of times before we deal with the reality that nothing received for our creative work will ever meet us. Which brings us to the 2nd stage.

The first phase of an artist is to see your work as a transaction. In this phase, you make things to get things. Money. Fame. Attention. Here, we create something for somebody in exchange for something else. Even if we have no intention of offering our art, however expect motivation and even to feel a sense of purpose, we remain in this stage.

This is where we all start: as human beings sharing our souls in hopes of somebody comprehending it, and by extension, us. Much of us hope and hope our work might be sufficient that somebody would think about spending for it; we may even think this is the goal, but it is just a stage on the journey.

This stage is zero-sum: you earn something at the expenditure of others, even if you do not recognize thats what youre doing. Whether youre selling a painting or attempting to get a book deal or hoping your moms and dads “get it,” the end is always the exact same. Youre doing the work to get, to get, and as long as you do that, you are providing up a few of your imaginative freedom. You are a servant to the approval of others. And of course, this is regular and natural and even required. This is not the greatest calling of an artist.

Stage 2: Compromise

The second stage is among compromise. Whether you succeed at the very first phase or not, you will end up here, understanding fame and success are not what you believed they were or failing to attain your goal, at which point you will be required to let go of your dream. Either method, you end up here, caught by success or having a hard time to endure.

Here, we end up sensation jaded towards those who have “made it,” jealous of their success and wondering what we did wrong. Many artists stay here their entire lives, believing themselves fully grown and responsible. This is not a rewarding or fulfilling place to be; indeed, you are not meant to remain here. But there are lessons to be discovered about cash and marketing and what actually matters. Still, we cant remain in this halfhearted, conservative location for long without something substantial in us withering. We should carry on to the third phase.

Regardless, this phase is about survival and self-preservation. How numerous people get to live their dream? We still are doing our work in hopes of getting something, but we are holding back now, providing our energy and attention in other places.

Now, you are reasonable, cautious, a bit more understanding of the way the world works. Or maybe, you become a bohemian, disenchanted with the way the world works, relegating your work to the fringes.

Stage 3: Gift

When we do our work from a wholehearted location, we end up bring in unmatched attention and compensation. As it turns out, good art gets its reward, ultimately– exactly when you no longer require it.

The third stage is when you see your work as a present to the world. You also know that the work can not be offered in expectation of getting anything.

Here, we share our work without expectation of anything. And when we do our work like this, when we use it as a genuine and truthful present, we show up in ways that the previous phases do not offer.

We are ecstatic and open, free to give our finest work away without needing anything in return. This does not suggest we do not charge for our work or allow individuals to pay us. It doesnt indicate we work for totally free.

The Rub: Whats the point?

The reason is this: You need to care. You need to believe in your work before anyone else does. You have to appear, hands open, prepared to provide whatever present you have, all of it, to the world. You need to keep showing up, keep sharing, specifically when you doubt how great it is or if anybody cares. The way you get people to care is by audaciously doing the work, no matter what. Being generous is always the very best method to get noticed, and its the only true course to producing real art.

Whats the point? There are useful things you can do to help your work spread and grow– techniques, tools, and resources worth implementing. Far too frequently, I see individuals getting stuck in one of the first two stages, wondering why it does not work.

As Lewis Hyde writes:

If you desire to be an artist, you need to begin here. You need to begin to see your work as a present. Otherwise, you will end up starving, offering out, or giving up.

Do the work knowing no one will care or listen for a really long time. Eventually, individuals may pay and care attention and desire to provide you things. Welcome to being an artist.

Or perhaps, you become a bohemian, disenchanted with the way the world works, relegating your work to the fringes.

You can move rapidly through these stages or slowly. You can even get stuck in one of them, believing it is the destination.

The third phase is when you see your work as a gift to the world. And when we do our work like this, when we offer it as a truthful and genuine present, we reveal up in ways that the previous stages do not provide.

And so, this work reveals itself to us in stages.

The art that matters to us– which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or uses nerve for living, nevertheless, we choose to describe the experience– that work is received by us as a gift is gotten.

Far too typically, I see individuals getting stuck in one of the very first 2 phases, wondering why it doesnt work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *