Letter to a Young Artist: Popularity and Commerce Must Not Matter

I’m always disappointed when I talk to Artists and the first thing they start telling me is their resume, how many blog hits they have, how many tickets they’ve sold and how many social media followers they have.  I’m dismayed not by their success, but by the business metrics they’re using to calculate what will always be only a fleeting, and diminishing, rate of return.  Art must not be commerce. Creation must not be commercial.  The Arts must never belong to the business school. The only thing of value you have as an Artist — and can control forever — is your belief in what you know is true and how that knowledge affects the quality of the work you produce falling into the long game beyond the grave.

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Betting on a Two Million Dollar Flop

Is it better, as an author, to make a solid $50,000 on a book and have a tremendous success in the marketplace?

Or is it better to get a $2 million advance on a book and have it die on the vine of public prosperity and to have it slashed by the critics?

Is success for an author measured in popularity or by the pocketbook?