The coolest thing about making art for the sake of art is that you don’t have to follow any rules. No one can tell you what to do or how to do what you are doing. Sure, you can let people. But if you’re motivation for creating things is just that you like creating, you rule.
You’re the king.
This is how I look at it: My art is my kingdom. Nobody makes any decrees or places any boundaries on anything but me. I make the rules, and because I do, I have decided there are no rules. I don’t have to use correct English. I can say things in my writing like, “Just freakin’ art.” I can also use the phrase “more awesomer” if I want to. I can paint on cardboard instead of canvases. I can write songs with no hooks and no bridges. I can own a recording company without a “studio.” Why? Because this is my kingdom.
I’m the king.
But, wait now, there is a catch. Every once in a while, as an artist, you may have to enter someone else’s kingdom. You may have to play by someone else’s rules.
I have things that I do just for me–things that I enjoy. But I also don’t mind leaving my domain, entering someone else’s, and challenging myself to make something that another king (my client) and I both appreciate.
In my kingdom, the songs I write can have no hooks and no bridges, and they can be 10 minutes long. But if I want to write a song that will be on the radio, in that kingdom, songs have to have catchy hooks and usually have to be 3-4 minutes long. I can be mad and bitter about that or I can just take my crown off and step down from my throne and enjoy working in someone else’s kingdom for a little bit. I don’t mind doing that because I know that I can always go back to the place where I am king and do what I really like.
This isn’t only for songwriting but for almost every other form of art as well. I know a lot of creative photographers who hate shooting weddings and do them grudgingly. Sure, you may not be able to use experimental lighting and crazy motion techniques, but who cares? Do that stuff in your kingdom and challenge yourself to do the best you can whenever you step out of it.
When you have a client, the client is king. But this is the cool thing about working for another king: other kings have wealth that you don’t have.
Many artists’ kingdoms are broke. If an artist can learn to step down off the thrown of their poor kingdom and go to a wealthier kingdom, they can return with some wealth they didn’t have before. And this only makes their kingdom stronger.
Eventually, their kingdom can become so strong and well-respected that people begin coming to their kingdom, asking them for their art. The other kings don’t want what they were always wanting and have been setting rules up for, instead, they now want what the artist has been doing in their kingdom all along.
It takes some time, but eventually, other kings may start bringing their wealth to you. Kings you once worked for may start leaving their crowns at home and stepping into your kingdom for your art. Until then, you might as well enjoy the adventures of traveling to far away lands.
This art thing really is a game of thrones. I don’t think you need to war with the surrounding kingdoms. Instead, learn their rules, enjoy the challenge of creating within their laws, and peacefully take their wealth. Even if you have to bow down every once in a while, remember, you still have your own kingdom to return to. And no one can ever take your crown or steal your throne. Those other kingdoms will only make your kingdom stronger. Don’t be afraid of them.
I just wanted to remind you that you rule.
Long live the king.