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purity of art

In Hugh McLeod’s book “Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity,” the author gives a lot of time to the idea of being true to your art and doing it for yourself, not for anyone else. Day jobs are for making someone else rich, but art is sacred and pure to the artist and once sullied by prostitution and compromise, it becomes worthless to others. It is art’s purity and liberty from the corruption of THE MAN that makes art so great.

I’ll let J.B. and K.G. of Tenacious D explain by way of illustration…

The main issue I have with McLeod’s book is that it kind of rips us off a little. We are expecting 40 tips and at least five of the 40 “keys” in the book are just reiterations on the basic “Be True and Don’t Sell Out” theme.

For example…

#26 You have to find your own shtick. [sic]
#2 The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours.
#14 Never compare your inside w/ somebody else’s outside.
#20 Sing in your own voice.

These are all basically the same concept.

And don’t get me wrong, that is a GREAT concept. But when you combine these there is really only 37 tips. I don’t fault McLeod for doing this. The book is basically a collection of his blog posts, and I am no stranger to reiterating on a particular concept if I think it’s important.

McLeod also reiterates the theme of “don’t turn your art/hobby into a career – keep you day job.” I am going to get into this in some depth tomorrow. It’s wise advice. There is no quicker way to sell your art short than to do it for someone else’s profit. Even if you still profit, the art isn’t pure. So have something you do for money, and something else you do for art. It will be better that way.

For example, I’m a writer by trade. I do that for income. While I also write for myself (art) via blogs, I am happy to write for other people when I am not doing my own writing. The same goes for music. My band GUPPY EFFECT is my creative outlet for my original song writing and live performance of original songs. But I am also a great bass player and I offer my bass playing services to three or four different bands in the Madison WI area, playing cover songs in dive bars for money. I would never do that stuff for free, it is too much work. But I keep my original project as free from exploitation as I can. I won’t even book gigs for GUPPY EFFECT unless I want to play them, for whatever reason. I like to play QUALITY gigs with my band and QUANTITY gigs with every other band I am in. Ironically, the QUALITY gigs often pay more than the QUANTITY ones, by their nature, and I re-invest any of those proceeds back into the CACTUS JOE ROCK-N-ROLL EMPIRE.

One of McLeod’s tips is “Start blogging.” I’ve been blogging for a while. As a writer, it is kind of a no brainer. I hope like minded people enjoy reading my blogs. I’ve incorporated a lot of valuable links to things I want to share with people in my blogs. That’s one of the strengths of the Internet. In addition to direct one to one communication with your friends and fans, you can also easily link them to things they might otherwise never have known about.

Well, it’s my birthday, so I am going to play the Birthday Boy card and end it here for now. I have a party to go to, and I get to play the bass with PEOPLE BROTHERS BAND. If you are in Madison, WI tonight, stop down to the High Noon Saloon between 9 PM and midnight.

Derek Sivers asked that I write about how I would APPLY some of Hugh McLeod’s concepts in “Ignore Everybody” to my music and post them here by tomorrow, Sunday January 10, 2010. I am finished with my analysis and in the morning I will reflect. So stay tuned.

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