[Note from The Beat: Ah, just found the perfect illo for this post, from Drew Weing’s marvelous Set to Sea, now out in hardcover from FBI! Highly recommended!]
It all started when Johanna explained Why I Won’t Be Giving to Kickstarter Projects, citing the belief that creators should have a business plan other than asking for dough. After a very, very lively comments section, which saw Dustin Harbin, B. Clay Moore, Christian Beranek and many others chime in as to how Kickstarter was a way to SHOW a business plan and ask for funding — and also the overwhelming realization that in the era of crowdsourcing, everything is micro-payments — Johanna did the big thing and posted a NEW piece called More on Kickstarter: I Was Wrong:
I also very much appreciated an email I received from an artist who wished to remain anonymous who wanted to share with me thoughts on the value of unique, challenging, and personal work created out of love. I was reminded how many art forms these days (such as live theater or opera) survive only due to patronage, grants, and similar acts of charity. (I’d rather compare comics to rock’n’roll than chamber music, but that’s a different conversation.) So why not try patronage for unusual comics? Like webcomics or self-published indies, there are going to be some terrible Kickstarter projects, some mediocre ones, and a few very good ones. Since the former are going to need more help, those are going to be the ones I’m more likely to hear about, but I shouldn’t let that color my perception.
But along the way, Johanna–whose direct no-nonsense manner I admire, because it is so different from my own, even if it does lead to friendly disagreements — made several comments about the artist’s need for business sense:
The idea of “I’m just an artist, so I can focus on creating” is romantic, but not very reasonable.
More serious summation: I’ve seen so many people have their hearts broken by comics by treating it like a love instead of a business. I just want everyone involved — creators, patrons, customers — to keep their eyes open. Trust and hope are great, but risky when dealing with folks on the internet with high aspirations and a limited track record.
Is this true? Must every artist have a business as a REQUIREMENT? It’s obvious that a lack of business sense has impeded many artists from having happy, successful lives, but does it have anything to do with their artistry?
Or to put it another way do all business people have to be artists?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.