Better to be poorer, with more freedom, and more control over your artwork and life.
For example as a musician, better to have a very small and dedicated fanbase [than to have millions of fans, but being forced to make music you don’t care for].
Better to be poor and own your own website/blog to freely share your thoughts and opinions, than to be controlled by some sort of publicist who won’t allow you to say what you really think.
Who is self-owned?
I admire people who are self-owned. For example, Kanye West who says whatever is on his mind. And to me, it isn’t even about whether I agree with them or their opinion or not– it is the admiration I get from individuals who can speak their mind freely. This way I actually trust them more, because I know that they’re genuine. For me, I think I hate ‘phonies’ the most [fake people who are just nothing but actors]. I admire genuine individuals.
Even when it comes to Donald Trump, while I don’t agree with the majority of his philosophies or policies, I can “trust” him in the sense that I know that he ain’t faking. He will tweet openly what he really thinks and believes, which is kind of insane to think that a president is able to do that (without getting some sort of ‘approval’ from his chief of press). I think this is actually better than having a president who seems “good” and smiles good in front of the camera, but is actually conducting ‘evil’ activities behind-the-scenes (apparently this characterizes Obama).
Let us say you don’t care to be a nrillionaire, own a trillion objects, have trillions of followers, etc. What do we really want?
I think the ultimate goal is to have the maximal amount of personal and creative freedom and license in your life. To never do what you don’t want to do, and to only do what you want to do. To not be barred from any action or activity, because someone tells you that you cannot.
I think this means being a self-owned entrepreneur. And this is the thing — better to be a poor self-owned entrepreneur [you can control your schedule and life] than to be a rich corporate slave.
Better to earn $20,000 a year as a self-employed entrepreneur (maybe living in Hanoi) than to be a Wall Street banker making millions a year, but doesn’t have any control over his/her life.
The internet is the most phenomenal thing ever for artists
Consider as an artist, you have the most phenomenal platform/tool ever known in existence– the internet! Also let us say you live in America or any country with freedom of speech — you can openly share what is on your mind! Our good buddy Diogenes [philosopher] said that the best human good was freedom of speech.
What is the upside of being American?
Yet the irony is in America, we trade our personal freedom for money, possessions, land, and stuff.
I saw this American motto on a T-shirt the other day:
Land of the free, home of the brave.
Is this what we truly care about — freedom and bravery? I think these are our ideals, but I think the new American values are:
Comfort, security, ease, possessions.
Most Americans aren’t free [they are employed by a ‘boss’], and most Americans aren’t brave [they have the capacity to be brave, but we are so distracted by mind-numbing media/sports/entertainment that we don’t even have the opportunity to be brave].
How can we assert our bravery?
Bravery is a virtue I love. It is also a virtue of the ancient Greeks.
A very simple way to be brave in today’s modern world:
Share what is really on your mind, and don’t censor yourself.
Bravery in terms of you sharing your political beliefs, your cultural values, or sharing a certain opinion you have [even though others might try to crucify you as a consequence].
For example if you want to publish and share your thoughts widely, start your own blog. Register a domain via 1and1.com or bluehost.com, and install the ‘wordpress.org’ framework. This means that anyone can access your website [it is open on the internet]. Furthermore, nobody can censor your thoughts [like they can do on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc].
Write essays on what you believe in. Even starting a YouTube channel to create ‘vlogs’ on personal essays is a good idea, but even YouTube can censor your videos which don’t follow ‘community guidelines’. Or if the thoughts you share on social media are seen as ‘radical’, the algorithms will simply not share your content with your followers — which is some sort of ‘shadow censorship’.
How to achieve freedom
It seems an insanely important pre-requisite to achieve your personal freedom is to become self-employed. This means to NOT be employed by anyone else, and not get a ‘paycheck’ from anyone else. Also, not being dependent on the government to collect some sort of checks.
This can generally mean owning your own ‘sole proprietorship’ business, or having enough money saved up to live off investments or some other form of ‘residual income’. But this is what I learned:
No matter how rich you are, you will never feel ‘secure’.
Thus perhaps this is where we need bravery even more — to be brave to be poor! To be brave to go WITHOUT superfluous things in life– without owning a house, owning a car, other possessions, etc. There are many places to live well on less money (Hanoi, Saigon, Mexico City are my favorites).
Success is perhaps the wrong notion
I hesitate to use the word ‘success’, because it isn’t a binary. For example, we often think that once we hit a certain milestone in our lives, we suddenly flip the switch from “unsuccessful/normal” to “successful”.
But the problem of being “successful” is that it generally has to do with fame, popularity, monetary success, or other external things you don’t have 100% control over.
For myself, I hate the notion that I don’t have 100% control over my life. Thus I strive to live my life in order to only pursue things which I perceive I have full control over.
For example, it seems that I have more control to increase my ‘1 rep max’ with powerlifting, than getting my body to become bigger and more muscular (bodybuilding). Or when it comes to writing, I cannot control whether a blog post of mine goes viral or not. But I can control whether to write about something which is important and meaningful to me.
Perhaps this is the same with photography and art: you cannot control whether you will gain millions of followers or become famous, but you can control what to photograph, which photos to select, how to process your photos, and the forms in which you publish/share your photos.
I’ve been thinking much about the question:
What kind of art-works last, and why?
My answer thus far:
Artwork which is genuine and uncompromising to the author is more likely to last.
For myself, I care more about longevity and long-term legacy when compared to short-term success and fame.
And this means:
Only create artworks which you truly care for, instead of making artworks which you think will please other people.
Create artworks which are genuine to you, and don’t compromise on how you create your artwork. However, share your artworks as widely as you can [in praise of self-promotion].
The uncompromising self-promoter
Never compromise on how you create your artworks, but strive to share them as widely as you can.
More turbo thoughts to come!