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


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