It’s time for artists to support each other more…

Sheila Chandra - Thursday, November 23, 2017

Back in the day, 35 years ago, when I was starting out, the competition between artists, writers and musicians even on the same projects was fierce. Information about how to thrive was closely guarded, and smaller labels and managers took advantage of anyone’s ignorance about music business law or procedure, and exploited it ruthlessly. There are lots of deals I signed which should have been better, even with people I knew well and counted as my ‘friends’. They didn’t care or feel any responsibility to tell me that.


It was truly rare then for artists to mentor each other. The competition between singers – especially female singers – was even worse. An unconscious air of resentment pervaded, right down to passive aggressive comments on looks, skills or direction. It was a lonely place to live one’s professional life.

Undermining other creators is not a luxury we can afford any more

Mercifully some of this has changed. I’ve seen other visual artists mentor people – and I know of progressive bands that have too. But there’s still a hangover from the old days, and wherever undermining still exists – whether on a personal or business level, we need to stop.

Many creative people are struggling

This is a reflection of the wider economy, but the fact is, artists are among the worst hit because of the way that funding is being systematically cut, and the music business has been restructured, royalty-wise. It is harder than ever now for new artists of quality to be ‘born’ especially if they are from less privileged backgrounds. Could a boy from poor area like the old Brixton become the next ‘Bowie’ now? Sadly, almost certainly not.

We are the caretakers of our cultural landscape

Now more than ever, experienced artists are the guardians of culture. Our support to the right people, will in large part determine how rich the creative ‘soil’ or our artistic culture remains. Whatever our private insecurities or ‘beefs’, it’s time to act maturely and put them aside in order preserve as rich a creative culture as possible.

This means you!

It’s time to contact each other and form communities rather than ‘taking sides'. It’s time to give away your secrets to people you mentor. It’s time to support people from difficult or challenging backgrounds, because we need them to give us their creative perspective and stories more than ever. It’s time to give the other party the advantage, where on principle it’s the right thing to do (rather than exploiting their ignorance) because we need to think more of the big picture than of ourselves. Let’s be brave because no one can do this but us.

Help other artists weather the storm

We’re weathering an unprecedented storm in the creative industries. We’re the canary in the coal mine re the undervaluing of human work. It’s going to happen in the wider world eventually as technology replaces many roles including solicitors, stockbrokers, doctors and chefs. This technology already exists. While in an ideal world, this should mean plenty and leisure for all, unless the people who own such expensive technologies are willing to share their wealth (does that sound likely to you?) it will impoverish everyone instead.

Let’s really support each other

In the meantime, let’s support each other. I mean true kindness. I mean emotional honesty and support, advice, contacts, insights, legal help – whatever we can give. Because we have GOT to survive this with our collective legacy of expertise intact. Especially those without a cash buffer or a privileged background, whose stories are getting rarer and rarer.

We need to pull together as a community wherever we can and support and mentor other creative people. Remember, record companies, publishers, distributors, galleries, agents and managers won’t do it for us. It’s in their interests for us to compete. But we need to take the longer view, because when the robots have taken over, what will really matter is creativity. That’s when we’ll be needed more than ever.

I'm starting a coaching and mentoring service especially for self-employed creative professionals to help them thrive in their careers. Find out more at


Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image


Recent Posts


symptoms of creativity concentrated creative time long-term artistic development fall of innocence imagination display items work/home life balance great artists good friend stay tidy automatically much better friend good art work lifetimes emotional balance creative spark double standard clutter addict feel like creatiing pop music stop hoarding stuff why organise slow and steady visualising sacrifice clear desk overwork clearing career strategy hoarding appointments professional encouragement well curated closet childhood storage criteria for letting go of stuff buying hope culture cleaning warm down grief effortlessly tidy procrastination mornings clutter inspiration creative confidence feeling creative subconscious mind nurturing creative work buying happiness clarity of thought artist workspaces artistic conviction the void low maintenance strategies boredom streamlining routines tidiness in living spaces workspaces home organising confident in clothes just in case branding creative culture myth morning routines bulk buy buying stardust magic quality creativity diary tension options business-speak being organized creative career exhaustion artist goals staying in control vulnerability mess Sheila Chandra author making decisions minimalists clear outs networking stardust fine art professional mentors work priorities organisation ‘creativity’ low maintenance business interface to creative businesses diagnosis too busy proposal writing sheila chandra coaching popular culture peer-to-peer networks innocence social media writing funding campaigns business-like wardrobe compulsion tips for clearing cry home life lazy organise living mess free artist artists loss introverts VIPs efficient work patterns green room email bankruptcy tortoise and hare saving time slim-line wardrobe tidy ‘stories’ about your possessions time clutter proposals how to save time hostile clutter brands precious memories multiple lifetimes business new year how to be naturally tidy artistic chaos : clothes emotional resilience anxiety working class artists dynamic spaces hijacking creativity creative people funding wind down focus self promotion absences clearing clutter creative ambitions static spaces friends theft creative wellbeing parent inconvenience well organized hotel room great art tidy desk getting ready for work peacefulness creative identity social media networking home care card to do list clean desk commitment stop cluttering cleaning your desk nascent artists touring critical acclaim copyright trope loving your audience nipping things in the bud celebrity endorsed products clearing in short bursts emotionally secure artist organizing for creative people pop culture artist mentors collections nurture creativity motivation platform too many commitments work trips spree domestic life tidier binge buying wealth network letting go artistry chaotic jealousy clearing as you go artist materials work life brilliant creator resentment control artist mentoring creative person cupboard of shame emotional support mature artists elevator pitch email smart artists how to work efficiently vocation guilty purchases creativity successful artist stay on top of email good creative habits networking effectively 2018 goals hobbies disorganization friendships email overload housework much quicker creative magic professional creative career living clutter free normality partners buy fewer clothes creative commissions diary arrogance creative organising productivity temperament under-confidence working class culture missed opportunities creative career coaching tidy people goals work efficiently crowdfunding being tripped up car buying youth