10 Things To Stop Saying To The Creatives In Your Life: A Read
Yep, I'm doing it. This is for you. Yes, you, the well-meaning family member of the artistic soul who's always been the shining light of your surname. And, of course, you, the parent who pictured your child on the Grammys red carpet and expected to be having dinner parties with Quincy Jones by now. Gather round and let's talk candidly about how we, artists, already know that you have no clue as to how any of this works and we've tried our best to smile every time you say, "Call Tyler Perry, he's always hiring Black actors".
1. When Am I Going To See You In A Movie?
Listen, the moment I am in a film, you'll know about it. And it's not going to happen any sooner because you keep asking, cuz. Not to mention, you're politely ignoring the other work I've already done to ask me about what you deem as success in my chosen career path. This is way too much, I need a moment.
2. Have You Ever Thought About Working With...*Insert Literally The Most Famous Person In Your Industry*?
Ummm, yeah. Of course I've thought about working with Ava Duvernay. I literally wake up and go to bed thinking about working with Viola Davis. I don't need your help brainstorming the most incredible talent in my industry and making it a goal to work with them. I'm sure this goes for every other kind of artist as well. Asking a rapper if he's thought about sending his music to Russell Simmons as IF it's that easy is...just...idiotic. I know it may seem like you're reinventing the wheel here but please...don't do this.
3. Maybe You Should Go Back To School For...
Oh, maybe I should just accrue more debt than I already have from when I got this degree in my PASSION?! Thanks but no thanks. I'd go out on a limb and say most creatives have no interest in heading back to an institution to pay to learn something "safe" that doesn't insure them any happiness or success. This sounds a lot like "give up on your dream and go get a real job" and those are fighting words. Honestly, truly.
4. Oh, *insert creative job* Is Your Hobby, What's your Real Job?
Did I stutter when I said I am an actress and a writer? Because...you asked me what I do and I responded with an answer. Those two things are my everyday, 24-7, when-you-clock-out-I-am-still-working jobs. Mmkay?
5. How Do You Make Money?
I'm sorry, why is this your business? This is something that I've heard all too often asked of creative entrepreneurs, especially. It's literally the tackiest question of all-time. I make money the same way you do---I earn it. End of discussion. Now, if you want to know more, you can always HIRE me to teach you some tips. The game is to be sold not told, playboy.
6. When Will You Start A Family...You Can't Wait Forever.
Again, why. is. this. your. business? Maybe I don't want to start a family. Or maybe I do and already have a plan for when that's going to be. Either way, it doesn't concern you. Do you have "start a family" money + time to give me? Is this your way of offering to buy me a house and babysit my, currently non-existent, children? Didn't think so. Isn't there a doctor or lawyer or someone with a "real job" you can go ask this incredibly invasive question to? Gone now, get.
7. *Insert City You Don't Live In* Has A Ton Of Cool Stuff Happening...Maybe You Should Move There.
Oh, ok, I'll just pick up and move to a new city where I don't have a job or a place to stay or know anyone off of your promise of "cool stuff happening". That sounds way more promising than staying in a place where I've built a foundation. If the city is a place where you happen to live and are willing to help said artist get on their feet, by all means, suggest away. But if you're just offering expensive fix-alls for fun...oh no, baby, what is you doing?
8. You Need More Social Media Followers
Jesus Christ on the Cross. Are you kidding me right now? That's your advice. Now, this is not to say that social media presence doesn't play a role in success these days but to suggest this to an artist as a way to get work is just...lazy. Suggest a social media makeover? Sure. Suggest branding themselves in a specific way? Of course. But suggesting more followers...only...thanks, Captain Obvious. Not to mention, you're contributing to the ever-growing idea that social media followers are in some way linked to amount of talent. And this is completely untrue. Some of my favorite (and most busy) working artists have less of a social media following than girls who post themselves in Fashion Nova clothes as a career. And, as an aside, there's an IG account dedicated to foot fetishes with over a million followers (no I am not linking to it...you're gross) so, I mean, whatever.
9. I Really Like That Last Thing You Did...You Should Do That Again.
Listen, we all love Thriller but I have to say that I am so happy that Michael Jackson didn't just rerelease it every year after instead of making a new album. Of course, we want you to love our work but we also want you to support our desire to grow as artists. We can't create what you like over and over, sis. One of the key components of leading a creative life is allowing yourself the opportunity to expand. All of the things we create will undoubtedly have the DNA of who we are and what our voice is; however, let's hope that you can find something else to like in the repertoire.
10. WOW, Your Art Is Kinda Expensive. Can I Get The Family and Friends Discount?
You're a liar. And a cheat. And I don't wantcha. NAAAAAHHHH, I don't wantcha. Buy your friend's book. Cop their album on iTunes. Grab a ticket to their show. Get your makeup, hair and/or nails done by them. Slather your body in their butters. Beat your face with their products. Dress head to toe in their original pieces. But don't you dare fix your crusty lips to ask them for a discount or tell them their art is too expensive. You don't ask Chanel for a discount, do you? You don't tell Beyonce that her album costs too much, do you? So stop lowballing the people you actually know because you've spent all your funds supporting people who can't pick you out of a crowd.
I know it can be hard to pin down what it is we, the artists of the world, are doing if we're not extremely rich or famous. But I assure you we are hard workers who hardly ever take time off. We're busy writing the book that will help you through a breakup or producing the song you'll dance to at your wedding or designing the dress you'll be dying to wear next season or making your next favorite film. We don't have time to walk you through a process you could never understand. And we definitely don't want to have to prove to you that our dreams are worth fighting for.
I'll leave you with this:
"They take pictures of mountain climbers at the top of the mountain. They're smiling, ecstatic, triumphant. They don't take pictures along the way because who wants to remember the rest of it? We push ourselves because we have to, not because we like it. The relentless climb, the pain and anguish of taking it to the next level. Nobody takes pictures of that. Nobody wants to remember. We just want to remember the view from the top. The breathtaking moment at the top of the world. That's what keeps us climbing. And it's worth it. That's the crazy part".
- Shonda Rhimes by way of Grey's Anatomy
You're a spectator. We're the climbers. Let us do our jobs. And stay out of the way.