Lessons Distilled from a Creative Life: “The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art,” by Paul Jarvis

 

The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art by Paul Jarvis

Supported. Seen. Understood.

As a creative, do you often find yourself resistant to business advice or words of wisdom from those not in creative fields, because they don’t seem to get it?  You read a blog post, watch a video, or listen to a podcast to uncover tips for earning a full-time living from your creative thing, and think, “that won’t work for me,” or “that doesn’t apply to me because I sell fine art, photography, design services, illustration, [insert your creative work of choice here].”

While timeless marketing principles, authentically applied, can work for business builders in any category, it’s an unimpeachable truth that as creatives, when we seek counsel on how to up our business game or look for success stories we can apply to our own situation, we want to know that this guidance applies to us specifically as creative business builders. We want to take advice from someone who gets it. We don’t abide yellow highlighter hyperbole, “ninja” tricks, “warrior” moves, or other cliché metaphors of aggression that so many marketers & online business builders promote.

So when a successful creative, someone who earns a full-time living from his creative output, shares what he’s learned along the way, I’m going to pay the gentleman some attention. (“Success” is such a loaded word, so let’s assume here that it means the ability to support yourself from your creative work and feel creatively fulfilled in your daily life.)

Who is this gentleman I speak of?  Why it’s Paul Jarvis, web designer, best-selling author and “gentleman of adventure.”

I recently bought his book, The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art.  It’s pithy, entertaining, and full of good juju in the form of 18 “ideas to consider” when doing your creative thing, wherein Jarvis shares what he’s learned from observing other smart, successful, creative people. He says, “I wrote this book to explore the commonalities between successful artists. These are the 18 traits I see in good creatives. Not get-rich-quick, empty-promise dealers or egomaniacal artists, but good creatives.”

I love his expansive definition of what it means to be a creative: essentially, a creative is a person who makes anything; transforms their ideas into something tangible; curates or edits; leads or teaches; and puts what they know out into the world for others to watch, taste, read or hear.

In the book, Jarvis offers real-world examples to illustrate each of his 18 ideas. And if you’ve spent anytime ‘round these here parts, you know I love me some real-world examples. 

For example, in Chapter One, Try & fail (repeat as necessary), Jarvis shares now famous rejections that didn’t stop the creatives in question from pursing their dreams and becoming wildly successful. Stephen King, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, and Steven Spielberg, anyone?  The message: repeated failure doesn’t stop successful artists. 

In Chapter Three, Launch before you’re ready, Jarvis gives us the example of the Coen brothers’ first film, Blood Simple. The brothers entered their film in the Toronto and Sundance film festivals before the movie was even finished, because they were eager to get something into the competition. Once the film was accepted, they went off and finished it; it then won the 1985 Sundance Grand Jury Prize.

In Chapter Four, Tell your story, Jarvis says, “For creatives, the story behind the art is usually as important as the art itself” (Yes! I could jump up and down!  I give this advice to clients who are creatives all the time), and shares the example of Kris Carr, who launched her career as a wellness activist and author by telling the story of her cancer journey in the documentary, Crazy Sexy Cancer.

Other favorite chapters include “Share your ugly process,” “Help others,” “Hug your critics,” “Package your quirks,” “Focus on the work, not the outcome,” and “Break the rules.” But heck, truth be told, I actually loved them all.

As Jarvis says, “These aren’t rules, because you can’t magically follow them and then presto—your art becomes more famous than Gangnam Style,” but the 18 ideas here, embraced and implemented in your own special snowflake way of course, can realistically help you get from “starving artist” to fulfilled creative.

Learn more about the book here

(Depending on when you’re reading this, the book may or may not be available yet.  I bought it on pre-sale from his mailing list; otherwise, it’s available to all on June 1, 2014. I believe it will sell for $25.)

To find out more, get after it here:

The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art