All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today's clip comes from the pencil scene in Dark Knight:
What can we learn?
You are what you charge. Years ago, one of my books was featured in a major international publication. I was so elated, I nearly pissed myself. And I remember buying a copy of the paper from the newsstand and bringing it to my mentor’s office. He took one look at the article and said, you just doubled your fee. Really? Just like that? Turns out, he was right. Artists raise their fee when they raise their value. Not when they need to make more money. Not when their landlord hikes up the rent. Not when the client offers to pay more. And not when their friends start raising their fees. When they raise their value. And so, the goal is to constantly seek out experiences and projects and accomplishments worth pointing to. Opportunities that raise your value, no matter what. That way, your self worth is not subject to negotiation. That way, when you pull your chair up to the table, there’s no guilt around asking to be paid what you’re worth. Joker may be an insane, evil freak, but he’s also a criminal mastermind with a sound, lucid strategy for solving the mob’s jurisdiction problem. Joker knows his value, and he asks to be compensated accordingly. Because if you’re good at something, never do it for free. Does a lower fee make you more affordable, or less attractive?
Schedule time to do business. Watterson famously said that his purpose in writing cartoons was to say things, not to sell things. I’ve always felt the same way, although as I grow as a creator, I know that every artist has to admit they’re in business for themselves. If we intend to contribute to the world’s reservoir of truth and beauty, we should also insist that the world contributes to our reservoir of dollars and cents. Otherwise our overriding sense of mission prevents me from doing business. When I first started my company, I knew money was the inevitable hurdle I was going to have to vault. And so,
my mentor forced me to spend two hours a day, every day, asking customers to buy. In person, over the phone, via email, it didn’t matter. Every morning from nine to eleven, I put on my sales hat. And I hated every goddamn minute of it. Assigning monetary value to my intellectual property tied my guts into knots. In fact, every time I picked up the phone, I prayed for the call to go to voicemail. But that standing daily appointment was exactly what I needed to grow as an artist. Joker, on the other hand, doesn’t have such anxieties. He saunters into the room laughing and doing magic tricks. Those mobsters didn’t stand a chance. We should all be so confident in the selling arena. Is the problem that they can’t afford you, or that they don’t understand how they can afford you?
What business could you be in? Everyone diversifies. Even comic book villains. Being religious about how you make your money is the quickest way to go out of business. Successful artists and creators engage the muscle of yes. Instead of locking themselves into limited concepts of how they earn, they stay engaged with the growing list of financial avenues that are available to them. The modern musician, for example, can make money in any number of venues, including giving music lessons, performing at church services, playing background music for theater, releasing albums under multiple monikers, selling songs to other artists, managing other musicians, earning online streaming royalties, building digital products and subscription programs, writing commissioned pieces, arrange charts for bands, selling band merchandise, writing sheet music, selling songs to music libraries, creating ringtones, earning collaboration royalties, selling website advertising and licensing songs for commercials. As long as they keep a finger on the pulse of their various streams of musician income, they can stay afloat. Because every opportunity is another chance to get paid to do the things they love. Are you governing your growth by insisting you never diversify?
What did you learn?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
Now booking for 2014-2015.
Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!