“It is foolish to think we can’t be both artists and entrepreneurs , especially when Henson was so wildly successful in both categories.” -Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
Originally published in 2013, Make Art Make Money isn’t your typical book with 10 lessons that will set you on the path to greatness. It doesn’t give you a straight forward answer to the question “How do I make my art make me money?” Instead the book is more like a conversation with a wise grandparent. In this book Stevens uses the life and work of Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets) to illustrate how an artist may maintain balance between making art profitable and staying true to their vision.
Stevens begins the book with stating the underlying issue surrounding the awkward relationship between creative people and the business world. With statements like “as much as we know and value art – as a society -we expect our best artist to starve.” she explains why art is seen as valuable, but there is disconnect between the emotional and economic value of art. The book continues with advice for artists using the career of Jim Henson as an illustration of how the device can be applied. The book shows a lot of understanding of the inner feelings of the artist that feels ignored or doesn’t have the success they believe they deserve. It also proposes reasons why it may not be caused by society but maybe we have something to do with it. As the book goes on by talking about managing relationships with people, day jobs and your own personal art (unpaid projects). At the end, Stevens turns the discussion toward staying relevant by taking advantage of new resources, and leadership.
“And yet, Even if your work doesn’t earn you profit for the time being, its quality is what can earn money down the road -sometimes years later.” – Elizabeth Hyde Stevens
This book is not your usual “super practical” book but it is more educational than most. You will learn about culture and (if you’re not involved in film) more about how TV and movies about make money. It is very encouraging but also realistic but the journey of an artistic career. I would recommend it to anyone pursuing a creative career; even reading the first two chapters is worth the cost of the book.