Soundtrack : Tiden Flyver, Boom Clap Bachelors
Image : Anaglyph IV, Jordan Söderberg Mills (2016)
The Creative vs The Hustler (ii) — In discussion w/ Malcom Mbombo
Pluralists can be classified as almost, entrenched in their creativity, not by choice but by compulsion. They contradictorily view the world within a singular gaze — their area of expertise. Stereotypically they are well versed in the technicality within their field (with a strong personal style) but not bound to a particular topic of interest, although they may have an affinity for a particular theme of interest. Compartmentalisation is not their strongest suit, evident as a result of a lack of efficiency and/or excessive benevolence. Therefore external factors dictate the division in their practice into the commercial, the experimental and the necessary.
CL-Q : Would you say ‘Pluralists’ by default have compromised their practice.
Malcom : No… it depends on two things, what the creative entrepreneur wants to do and what s/he is actually doing. — Compromising will happen if / when you have to work for someone else that you do not want to.
CL-Q : Isn’t having a client automatically working for someone else.
Malcom : It depends, there is a difference — you can work for somebody or you can work with somebody. Working for somebody else is, s/he is your boss and dictates what you do, and you can be fired. When you have a boss you don’t have a choice. Working with somebody else, means there is a contract, the clients fulfils their side and you deliver yours and standing by your principles.
CL-Q : So the distinction between the two is the capability of saying no, without devastating consequences? — and the ability to dictate what you are willing to do?
Malcom : Yes that’s correct. Being able to walk away and not being affected or work with them willingly.
CL-Q : How does a pluralist specifically manoeuvre in acquiring notoriety, respect and financial independence?
Malcom : You need not only to be good at what you are doing but also knowing how to promote yourself to the larger public. By continuously showing presence and providing good content in your field of expertise you will build trust, respect and credibility in your community. To help you reaching financial independence one need to learn how to divide their skills/business into multiple revenue streams. Look, a mistake people make is that they hinder their commitment to their practice, because they expect it should earn them more than what their corporate salary equivalent would be in the beginning.
CL-Q : I’ve previously been advised how to “diversify revenue streams as a creative,” ergo manage my creativity to 50% consistent income, 30% dedicated to signature style collaborations and 20% reserved for your Avantgarde work (least amount of money).
Malcom : I agree, but the goal is to reverse the percentage allocations; 50% Avantgarde, 30% Signature style and 20% for consistent income. You want to spend more time doing what you really love and less time doing the thing that doesn’t. The bottom line is, the average citizen has expenses of roughly £1500 — £3000 a month, your focus is to make your creative jobs generate an enough margin to over your expenses.
CL-Q : That’s obvious isn’t it?
Malcom : Yes! but a lot of creatives think small. Your opportunity for business/revenue shouldn’t be limited to the city or country in which he/she resides.
CL-Q : So potentially, dedicate your different revenue streams to different locations.
Malcom : Absolutely but, let’s go one step further, in this context your product is your creation, it’s not you. What’s stopping you from making/training others to set up or perform your work?
CL-Q : I think we are getting into dangerous territory…it’s here where people like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol get flagged as disingenuous.
Malcom : This is an issue of mindset, not authenticity. At some point, you have to focus on working on your practice and not obsessed with being inside of it. For example, if you write a book, you want your book to reach as many people as possible right? Therefore you would print more so it could be distributed around the world, by all means, protect your work but also let it travel.
CL-Q : Are you saying, the stigma of the struggling artist, isn’t about the struggle to succeed, but more so the resistance to not being involved in every aspect of their work?
Malcom : Yes, creatives need to hold onto the authenticity of their work, however, they need to look at areas in their practice which don’t require their fingerprint. As your practice grows so will the ambitious nature of your work, meaning you can’t produce everything.
We’ve evolved past the obstacle of “emerging” in your field, this is about sustaining your practice, and in sustaining your practice one needs to act small but think big.
CL-Q : The artwork cannot exist without an audience, therefore the creative cannot exist without a business.
Malcom : For sure, when you break things down to its foundations, identify the skills to want to exercise; then sell those skills and abilities or what they create. What you are unable to unwilling to do, delegate.
CL-Q : That’s the basis of an agency?!
Malcom : Structured creativity. The ultimate goal is to put yourself in the position of making the phone call rather than the person waiting for the phone call.
In whichever approach, position yourself as the expert.
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