A while back, my friend told me about something called G.A.S. It’s a condition that many artists and entrepreneurs suffer from.

G.A.S. stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Gear Acquisition Syndrome is a term used to describe an urge to acquire and accumulate lots of gear. Musicians, artists, painters, designers, and entrepreneurs can all suffer from G.A.S.

Basically, people who have G.A.S. brag about and depend on their stuff. They get the “best” and the “newest.” It makes them feel good. They talk about their stuff. They ask you how much your stuff costs. It’s all about the gear.

The problem is that people who have G.A.S. invest in everything but themselves. They spend money for gear, but don’t spend time developing their skill and their brain.

That’s why G.A.S. stinks so bad.

So, how is G.A.S. cured? Well, you quit buying stuff. You stop chasing the latest and greatest product. You learn how to use what you’ve got and get the best out of what you have. If your an audio engineer, and your mixes aren’t as good as you want them to be, don’t go buy more plugins, software, and hardware, just freakin’ get better at mixing. Master the art. And master it with what you have. You can do it. Plugins and other things can help, but if you rely on them and never take the time to learn and hone your skills, you’ll probably never get your music where you want it to be. This same truth can be applied to photographers, painters, designers, and business owners.

I’ve known so many musicians that constantly buy new gadgets and effects, but haven’t developed their own ear to even know when something is in or out of tune. What’s the point?

Attention all artists and entrepreneurs: Invest in yourself, and then invest in equipment!

Hugh Macleod, in his book, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, said, “The more talented somebody is, the less they need props.” He went on:

There’s no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. He’s a man on a mission. He’s got a deadline. He’s got some rich client breathing down his neck. The last thing he wants is to spend 3 weeks learning how to use a router drill if he doesn’t need to.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macinotsh computers. Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops. Which is why there are so many crappy photographers with state-of-the-art digital cameras. Which is why there are so many unremarkable painters with expensive studios in trendy neighborhoods.

Hiding behind pillars, all of them.

Pillars do not help; they hinder. The more mighty the pillar, the more you end up relying on it psychologically, the more it gets in your way.

Musicians, stop buying shiny stuff with lights and screens and just freakin’ practice more. Train your ear. Run your scales. Read and learn.

Photographers, don’t go buying a new camera if you don’t even know how to use the one you have. Your photography probably isn’t as good as other people, not because they have better cameras, but because they are just better photographers.

This goes for all of us. No matter what we do.

We need to invest in ourselves first.

Because G.A.S. stinks.


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