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


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