Sell Your Soul – Not Yourself

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.
— Georgia O’Keeffe

There comes a day when every budding artist realizes that drinking paint-water does not a healthy meal make. About the same time, the artist will realize that in order to properly live, they need to make money off of their art. 

So how can you do this without turning into a robot that passionlessly make what others want? You your soul to the devil at the crossroads. No, seriously. Sell your soul. I mean that in the most kind, compassionate way possible.

The date was December 2014. I was working in a job that paid my bills, in an environment that was creatively stifling and negative. I came home from work drained and listless, trying to cling to the idea that I was doing work that would further my future. But a small part of me nagged in the back of my mind; ‘you are selling your skills, and along the way, losing what really makes you happy.’ A voice kept telling me to find a way to use my passion and soul to make money. 

I did a bit of research on Print On Demand (POD) stores that use your art on everyday products like shirts, mugs, skirts, and scarves. Prints too, but those are secondary in this case. I found Society6 and RedBubble. I joined both.

I sold nothing.

For six months I uploaded my art, created the best possible products, and tried and sell my passion because I want to, not because someone told me to.

It took six months to make my first sale. And suddenly all of those hours that I spent building a small shop and finding a way to market my passion were worthwhile. That 3.54$ was the most gratifying money I had ever made. 

 A beautiful scarf and tank top from RedBubble with my art.

A beautiful scarf and tank top from RedBubble with my art.

There is a difference between selling yourself and selling your soul. Selling yourself is offering up your talent, your skill, and the things you have learned in order to create art for other people. Selling your soul is taking the things you create from your passion because you wanted to, and finding a way to sell them.

Take note. Unless you have a massive stream of followers, you are not going to be able to pay your rent with the money you make on Society6 and RedBubble. Not yet. But it is money that you would not have otherwise had, that is generated from art that you truly enjoyed making. It is not a ‘get rich quick’ plan. But having multiple streams of income still help you, as an artist following your passion, live and continue to fuel your soul. You also get to see other people wearing your art, enjoying your creativity, and walking around in things they loved enough to buy.

Perhaps today is the day you realize you can take the things you love and share them with the world. Today is the day you have the courage to offer your soul up to the people around you in small pieces of wearable art. It is never too late to start.

So go ahead. Sell your soul; you won’t regret it.