Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

Are you in the ‘Poor Artist’s Club’?

The trope of the tortured artist is thought to have been started by Plato. It is an image or stereotype which depicts a creative genius who is in constant torment due to her art, society, the world, people and more. This person is constantly thinking and analysing then attempting to commit these thoughts to canvas, clay, paper and then feeling dissatisfied with the outcome. There is a strong connection to mental illness and many of the great artists, such as Van Gogh, who is now considered one of the greatest in history, personify this trope.

Creativity and mental illness have been connected throughout history, even romanticised as a necessary ingredient for the talented artist. According to a survey carried out by the University of Southampton, the viewer credits the work of the tortured artist as superior when they are told of the mental illness.

Just think for a moment of musicians that have committed suicide and it has been associated with their creative brain, Kurt Cobain, Chester Bennington, Jim Morrison, John Bonham, Amy Winehouse and too many more. Some may not have intended to commit suicide, however substance abuse and over consumption used as methods of escape led them down a dark path resulting in their ultimate demise.

It is a fact that mental illness is several times greater in creative professionals. Low wages and long hours in the creation process are contributors to these problems. Many creative people spend years living on the poverty line hoping for their big break and feeling trapped in a cycle of hope and disappointment.

It’s depressing reading!

The good news is that you are entitled to NOT be in the ‘Poor Artists’ Club’.

Sometimes we are caught in a web woven by others and then automatically ‘fit in’ so that we can identify with something. It is the act of acknowledgement and acceptance that helps you to embrace the changes that you must make in yourself in order to thrive. Many of the creative women I work with are caught in what I call the ‘making vs. marketing cycle’. They love making or creating and hate marketing and selling, so they revert to making where they are happy and comfortable. This keeps them in the low-income bracket and reinforces the limiting beliefs that they already have around making money from their area of genius. To help you to move away from this trope and towards the happy, abundant, successful artists club here are my thoughts.

A successful business is 90% marketing and 10% talent.

The things you hate doing are the very things that will make the biggest changes to your business and your life. Let’s look at some successful artists who truly understood marketing and didn’t even have the social media platforms that we have.

Andy Warhol – this is a man who created images of soup tins and screen icons! He was famously advised as a struggling artist to re-create what was familiar. People love to surround themselves with the things they see every day, and Andy took this to the extreme with huge success during his lifetime. He networked and partied with influential people. He embraced his weirdness and used it to his advantage to create raving fans. He worked tirelessly on his art and his marketing of it to claim his place in the world. 

Pablo Picasso – this man would have been on social media all the time! Pablo had a network of friends and influential people who helped him to become the great artist he was. He was critiqued and didn’t give a hoot about it. He knew where he wanted to take his work and never changed for anybody. His belief was strong, and his mission was clear.

Banksy – this man has nailed getting attention! Creating art on buildings that highlight the failures of society. Once again, he has purpose in his work, but more importantly a strong belief in what he wants to achieve through it. He has used the very system that holds artists back to project himself into fame and fortune, whilst maintaining his values and beliefs.

Three artists from different periods in our history all using the power of marketing to project themselves to greatness. 

A successful businesswoman is 90% belief and 10% talent.

The things you criticise yourself for or don’t like about yourself are the very things that make you stand out in a crowd. Let’s look at some successful creative women who were perfectly imperfect in their style and looks, but steadfast in their belief.

Zandra Rhodes – More than just a fashion designer, Zandra wanted to do it her way. She forged a path in the fashion industry that shook it up and put London at the forefront of fashion design. The queen of punk has maintained her personal image into old age, refusing to conform to expectations of society. Belief in her talent and sticking to what she wanted to achieve was her driving force.

Frida Kahlo – An artist who made a statement and became a success by creating work around what she believed in. Strongly rooted in her Mexican culture Frida was a political activist, feminist, and confident creator of her work. She is known for her self-portraits which focus on her uniqueness, in fact she exaggerates her quirkiness and proudly shows it to the world.

Charlie Dimmock – Maybe a less conventional creative, but most definitely a successful creative designer of gardens. Outspoken, unapologetic, and larger than life, Charlie knows what she wants to achieve. Her belief and confidence have seen her forge a successful TV career in a male dominated industry and hold her own in that environment.

Three creative women who have been successful in their lifetime because of their belief in their talent and their determination to show up exactly who they are. Note I have not selected what society would depict as ‘beautiful’ women under the stereotypes forced upon us. These women are beautiful for their confidence, self-belief, and their ability to embrace their individuality.

Forget the poor artists club because it only exists as an imaginary construct, forced upon you by society. It is when you allow the beliefs of others to drive your actions and behaviours that you become entangled in its web constantly trying to escape and then hiding in your comfort zone.

It is time to proudly show up exactly as you are and share your genius with the world. We are so lucky today to have free platforms at our fingertips to show off our work and our talents. Get marketing on your agenda and embrace it as an expression of your creativity. Think about it, all these creatives I have talked about have two things in common, strong belief in what they want to achieve and an ability to work the system to get them there. 

So, amazing creative lady, are you ready to work the system?

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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