Sounds like a bad promo for a Cinemax flick, right? But this isn’t a “rejected movie title ideas” post. It’s an actual warning, albeit tongue in cheek, for my creative friends.
The old cliche goes like this: it’s called show business, not show friends.
People who create things will always be potential providers of fresh hemoglobin for a certain type who can’t. Don’t misunderstand. A healthy relationship between art and commerce exists for a reason and is critical to the process. Actors have agents because they need a believer to sell their talents for them. And there is nothing more elegant than the process between a talented creative and an intelligent entrepreneur or backer. There is a critical yin and yang of getting it done right, whether it’s a design project, a song, a film or a blueprint for a new home. The good ones (I would say most) deserve their share and a lot, lot more.
This isn’t about them.
This is about …
(cue horror music)
Because hiding in the shadows of this healthy synergy between art in commerce lie a lot of well-dressed Nosferatus feeding on the insecurities that many creatives possess. Often the very same insecurities that make them so good at what they do. Vampires feed on the life force that makes you do great work. And they can suck you dry if you’re not careful.
Here are 4 tips to protect yourself on dark and stormy nights.
- Beware of people calling you a “creative type” in a business setting. It can be code for she doesn’t know how much she’s worth. Being called creative can be almost an act of contempt when it’s spoken by vampires. Sorry, but it’s true.
- Stay involved in the process. The moment you abdicate your experience in the running of a project is the moment you become a trained set of hands. Vampires prefer obedient minions. Lead, suggest and make it happen.
- You’re not lucky to get paid to do what you love. A classic method of sapping a creative person’s life-force is to subtly suggest that you’d be doing this anyway so cash is just a bonus. That is as untrue as suggesting a mechanic shouldn’t be paid. Your work has value in the marketplace. Behave accordingly.
- If you’re bitten, don’t turn. Because you will be bitten. It’s not a sign of weakness, a failure or further proof that you’re just a “creative type” (see above) with no ability to protect your jugular. Nope. It’s just what happens sometimes. Stay strong, believe in yourself and please, for all your brothers and sisters in the game, do not turn. Don’t join the ranks. We need you!
Now none of this is meant to suggest you become a grouchy, paranoid jerk in business or to imply you’re better than anyone else. Because you’re not. You may actually be replaceable. Everyone is. It’s merely a suggestion of what to avoid.
It’s a simple formula: believe in your skills, vet hard … and carry garlic.