Zac Brown: Making Art for a Living

Zac Brown
“I’m no different than any other human being. I play music for a living, and we’re very blessed.” 
 — Zac Brown

Most kids get regular jobs when they are in high school. They wash dishes, wait tables, bag groceries, or serve ice cream. Any attempt at art, though, is seen as just a hobby.

You’ve got to make a little money somehow when you are young, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are preparing for your future career. As a teenager, you just want to make a little money so that you can later go to college and start preparing for your real job some day. Have a hobby on the side as a teenager, sure, but get a real job to make some money so you can have a career later.

What if this was flipped? What if the art was a teenager’s “job” and on the side he or she would work to make a little money here and there?

This is exactly what Zac Brown of the famed Zac Brown Band did.

In high school he was performing acoustic guitar in local restaurants and coffee shops. The 11th of 12 children in his family, you would think that getting a steady job was essential, but not for Zac. He focused on his music and worked as a performer.

On the side, though, he worked lots of other jobs. He flipped burgers at McDonalds and fried fish at a local restaurant. Later in life he even opened his own restaurant before he made it big as a performer. He was a blue-collar artist, working hard to make some money at the same time working hard to make his art.

His art, though, was never just a hobby. It was always something he was turning into a career.

That’s key for every artist to come to terms with: you make a living with your art.

Like a lot of successful artists, Brown said yes to almost every opportunity to perform.

This work ethic continued as he gathered his famed band. In 2002, the early Zac Brown Band travelled on a very busy tour of about 200 performances a year — a schedule that the band has consistently held to.

Here’s the lesson for every artists to consider: your art is your work. You make art for a living. Sure, make a little money on the side if you need to. Get a job if you must, but your job and your career is your art.

Art does not have to be something pure that only a special class of artists can create. Think of yourself, instead, as a craftsman. You are an artisan. Your art is your work.

Go make art for a living.