art vs money? why you don’t have to choose

art vs money? why you don’t have to choose

by Kirk Hensler originally published on Rebelle Society on April 3rd, 2013

Some people think they deserve a great love and some people settle for the first person that will give them attention. I guess that in some way everyone is getting what they need. 

Except for the proud ones. Those bastards won’t take love from anyone. But theyneed it, probably more than anyone. Their souls ache for acceptance. But what they’re offering isn’t on sale.

What is it that you love?

Art, music, romance, travel, good health? Everybody loves these things.

What about money? Not many people come out and say they love money.

You’d have to be an idiot to admit to loving money. It’s not original and it certainly doesn’t separate you from the rest of the herd. You’d become another marionette in the big show of life—produced by corporations, directed by governments, and acted out by you.

You know, because money corrupts people and eats away at our humanity. Successful is boring, uncreative, and mind-numbing. Any great artist or creator could ‘dumb down’ and produce something that would be commercially successful…right?

Well, why don’t they?

Pride is like a shield. It is thick and nearly impenetrable. Our pride protects us. Most people will find it satisfactory enough to call themselves proud, accepting it as a part of who they are. Other people will question their pride and try to understand where it came from. Why did they grow this coat of armor?

Love, on the other hand, is like an arrow that can penetrate any material. It is relentless, brave, and resilient. Real love scares most people. It implies that they are actually worth loving and worth doing something they love.

We want it all but then we don’t. Not if it doesn’t come from the right place. We walk through life with our heads down thinking nobody can see us. Maybe everybody wants to look but nobody thinks they are allowed to. How do we know?

But we want everyone to see us, because somewhere in that everyone are the people we’re looking for.

Our work should be a reflection of who we are, hopefully in a big way. Even if we’re not doing something we love, we put our touch on everything we do. But if we are doing something we love, it should scream out our names.

I’ve heard that talented people don’t want to dilute their visions by bringing them to the masses. Or that it is more brave and noble to go it alone, there’s pride in the struggle.

There is a feeling out there that the true artists and creators—and by “true” it is usually implied that they are also poor and commercially unsuccessful—are braver, stronger, more independent. But they also live out of their cars.



For the longest time I thought I had to be poor in order to be authentic. God I love saying that word, authentic. But what did it even mean to me? Broke? Cynical? Difficult? I thought I was so unique and different from everyone else. I couldn’t engage in the ideas of the masses, it would mean I wasn’t special. I needed to hold onto the feeling of being different of else I couldn’t cope with the way things were.

Engaging in work that was commercially and financially successful would mean I was selling my soul. I would be willingly participating in a system that I considered upside down and corrupted.

But there comes a point when we are no longer benefiting ourselves by sitting on the sidelines and criticizing everything that is wrong with the world. As if it is some manifestation of a state of superior intelligence to point out the obvious shortcomings of our existence. It’s a dead end road. We are in the world, this is our world. 

Wouldn’t it be much braver to get involved and try to change things?

So what is it that really holds us back from putting our work (ourselves) out there?

I don’t buy it that true creators simply don’t think the masses deserve to see their work. I think they are scared. It’s fear that holds them back and prevents them from becoming commercially available.

They decorate a pretty elaborate bouquet of excuses for why they don’t share their work but really, they’re just establishing a firm bed of insecurity to lay in so they’re safe from the criticisms of the world at large. Sharing their work with the masses would mean they had to elevate their efforts, be clear about their purpose, and stop hiding behind pretenses. They would have to actually have their shit together.

As human beings, we are survivors. We will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But there seems to be a sense of complacency that has plagued our culture. Our basic needs are met so we spend the rest of our time suffering. We’re not sure what the hell we’re supposed to be doing with all of our free time that we would have normally spent chasing down wild buffalo, picking berries, or scrubbing our loin clothes against rocks in the river.

Financial freedom is the new wild buffalo. We have to chase it down to survive. If we don’t, we die a slow, complacent death on someone’s couch or in the back of our car.

Of course money isn’t the answer. Money by itself is useless. A lot of people with money don’t know what to do with it, or it owns them and squanders their growth. I’m not talking about these people. I’m talking about the gifted people with fire behind their eyes, the ones who do have something to say but nobody to listen. The ones with stories that remind us that it’s a gift to be a human and not a curse.

Speak up people; the world needs to hear what you have to say.

You deserve the money. So start asking for it. You will take it and live; travel, write, paint, volunteer, organize, improve, evolve, and help shape the world into something a little more tolerable, maybe something beautiful.

If you don’t take the money, somebody else will. Someone that will buy a second house on the ocean and only visit it once a year. Someone that drives a 7 series BMW but doesn’t tip at the car wash.

We can’t let this happen. It is the job of the artist to speak up and fight back. There can be life in our lungs again and the potential to meet people that love us and our work, whom we want to be loved by.


There are incredible people all over the world, ones that really get it. And no one will ever know what the world can really look like until they start getting organized and putting their talents out in the open.

Not putting ourselves out there is admitting that we don’t deserve to be seen and we aren’t willing to fight for what we desire. The only thing that can stop us from creating a world that we are excited to live in is our fear.

And fear isn’t real. You are.

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