Six Reasons Why Artists Can Be Grateful in Today’s World

Despite our current challenges, there's a lot for creatives to be thankful for.

It’s natural, but it’s not healthy.

As artists dealing with the rollercoaster ride of emotions that this lifestyle can bring, it’s understandable that we sometimes lose sight of the blessings of doing what we love. Stories of the difficulties of making money, finding work, reaching audiences, and maintaining our life balance can become a running soundtrack in our minds.  We continually face creative, social, financial and spiritual challenges, and if we’re not careful, those challenges can wear us down. That’s why it’s important to intentionally refocus on gratitude; we can’t survive as artists if we’re always looking at what’s wrong.

The fact is,  we have a lot to be grateful for. In many respects, we are privileged to be alive during the best time ever to work as creative professionals.

Sound far-fetched? Maybe not. Let’s unpack six reasons to be thankful as creatives during this time in history. They are:

  1. More Opportunities
  2. Greater Acceptance
  3. More Information
  4. Easy Access
  5. Total Independence
  6. Valued Individuality

1. More Opportunities

Despite all the talk about recessions, economic slowdowns, and changes to the creative marketplace, there are still myriad opportunities to create meaningful art and make a living doing so. The need for quality art has exploded as entertainment and media companies scramble to produce content for ever expanding and demanding audiences. Just look at the rising tide of series on Netflix and other streaming services. If you are a songwriter, filmmaker, actor or screenwriter, you’ve seen opportunities skyrocket before your eyes in the last decade. This means that there are more consumers than ever who are looking for artists who can deliver content that is fresh and new.  This doesn’t just apply to those who produce art for digital and streaming audiences, either. Many audiences, who are weary of the digital lifestyle,  are seeking artists and musicians who can create experiences for them in person in an authentic way.  Unlike other professions that can eventually be replaced by automation and the internet, the touch and feel of a live artist can’t never reproduced by a machine. As long as people desire to feel deeply, sing out loud, sense the human experience, and connect with others, there will be a need and a market for artists. We can be grateful that we work in a profession that is constantly offering us new, interesting avenues for work and fulfillment.

If you have trouble thinking of these avenues, and you are feeling discouraged, don’t let that feeling turn you off from exploring new possibilities. A grateful artist never looks at the cup of work as half empty. For every client, project, gig or opportunity that doesn’t work out, there is another waiting in the wings that will be perfect for you. You only need to keep searching and continue creating.

[For those musicians who are searching for new ideas of where to find opportunities for work, check out this listing of resources from David Cutler’s site The Savvy Musician, along with his book which we reviewed.]

2. Greater Acceptance

Maybe you’ve heard it before – “when are you going to get a real job?”  Or, maybe you haven’t. You may have noticed that being an artist is no longer seen by many as a fly-by-night pipe dream of a career. Books, articles, and corporate strategists are now bringing the artist mindset into the forefront. As the traditional 9-to-5 career becomes more and more rare, and the “side-hustle’ becomes normal for many people, the creative professions are less and less viewed as something outside the mainstream. Creativity, vision and insight are desired and celebrated more than ever by business leaders and cultural influencers,  and since we are already highly engaged in these types of activities, we reap the rewards as our work is valued and respected. No longer do you have to apologize for your decision to pursue your creative craft, whether as a growing passion or as a full-time career.  Be proud and thankful that the wider culture is beginning to better understand and accept your profession on equal terms.

 

3. More Information

In earlier times, artists and creatives who needed help and information had to seek it out through tedious research, moving to a new town, or seeking mentorships that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. However, now, again thanks to the internet age, every artist and creative has all the resources you could possibly need. If you want to write songs, work in mixed media, write a play, or design a building, you can find the information you need in a heartbeat through a Google search.  Social media allows us to instantly connect with other creatives who can help us find the answers we need. Remember, once again, that the internet isn’t the only source of information. Some of your greatest breakthroughs will happen when reach out to other artists on a personal level.   Groups all over the world give artists and creatives a space to connect, learn and grow, such as the local Con/Ex events sponsored by God and Gigs.  Be grateful for this wealth of information as you consider all the resources available to you.

4. Easier Access

Once upon a time, if you wanted to get your foot in the door of the arts and entertainment industry, you needed one thing – money. Whether it was a record company, a wealthy patron, or some other type of door-keeper, someone else held the keys to your ability to engage in the artistic community. Most simply did not have access to the tools and resources to make a big impact. Now? That time is no more. With hardly any money at all, you can leap into the fray of the creative industries and start to make your mark. The internet is the great equalizer in this case as well. With free tools, social media, cloud-based software, and other low-cost technologies, most artists can begin creating and sharing their art with no permission or blessing from a big company or publisher. It’s true that money is always helpful, but no longer is it the determining factor in whether you can thrive as an artist. Audiences, artistic fulfillment, and interesting work are at your fingertips. Be thankful for the fact that you can jump into your desire to share your art at any time, and don’t let any obstacle or person delay or deny that opportunity.

5. Total Independence

Few people really experience freedom in their lives, even if it is available to them. Artists, however, have the blessing of being able to form their own identity, code of conduct, and means of expression. You answer to no one but yourself and God, in the final scheme of things. This independence from the kind of ‘in-the-box’ thinking that many others are struggling to break out of is a wonderful thing. Celebrate your freedom as an artist by refusing to let the conventional way of things control you. Every once in a while, simply do something different because it is different. We thrive when we break away from the same way of looking at the world, and usually our best work comes when we are exercising our independence to its highest form.  Be grateful that you get to experience this kind of freedom simply by doing what you love.

 

6. Valued Individuality

A.A. Milne, author and creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, once stated, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”  In a world where differences are often criticized and demeaned, this is perhaps the greatest thing to be grateful for. Artists by nature are always looking to express what is unique and special about them, and because you work in a time and place where those qualities are rare, you can rest assured that your individuality makes a difference in the world. No one person thinks like you, creates like you, or dreams like you. In fact, if there was a carbon-copy of you somewhere, there would be no need for either one of you. But there isn’t. Your individuality is valuable, both in your artistic life and in your personal life. By being authentic, you help make this world a better place. No matter how much people may insist that we are all the same, artists know that there is something special that simply can’t be replaced or replicated. Be grateful to God that he made sure there was only one you in the universe, and that your creativity is his gift to you as a means to express and celebrate your uniqueness.

Be Intentionally Thankful

After considering these six reasons, you should have a profound sense of gratefulness about your life and the creative spirit that you’ve adopted and enjoyed. Don’t let the worries and anxieties of your passion become a drain. Instead, remember that greatness starts with gratefulness. When you realize what you have, you’ll do even more with it, and find new ways to grow and evolve into the creative you were destined to be.

Question: What are you most grateful for? Which of these categories spoke to you most, and why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Four Essential Connections Every Artist Needs (1st of the 7 Service Steps)

Co-hosts Allen and CriStyle dig deep into the connections that keep us fulfilled and balanced

Have you ever felt disconnected as an artist? Whether you’ve felt distant from your faith, your family, or your artistic friends, a disconnected artist is a frustrated artist. In this episode of The God and Gigs Show, Allen and CriStyle take a break from interviewing other guests and discuss the first of the 7 Service Steps, outlined in the book that inspired this podcast – God and Gigs: Succeed as a Musician without Sacrificing your Faith.

The first Step, Stay Connected, is broken up into four parts in the opening chapters of the book:

  1. Church
  2. Spouse
  3. Children
  4. God

However, for purposes of keeping the conversation relevant to all of our listeners, we focus on slightly different categories:

  1. Church
  2. Family / Friends
  3. Spouse / Significant Others
  4. God

Major Highlights

  • Why church membership is a big decision that must fit our individual perspectives and needs
  • Why family relationships are a priority, even when they aren’t ideal
  • Why openness and authenticity are key to successful relationships
  • Why our actions say much more about our beliefs than what we say or create

Resource Links:

Order the God and Gigs Book!

GodandGigsBook.com

Previous Posts  / Book Excerpts on Staying Connected:

Church

Family

Spouse / Relationships

God

Featured Patrons:

Dwayne Bennett saintorbin.com/music/

Rochelle Lightfoot: rochellelightfoot.com

Host Links:

CriStyle Renae: CriStyleRenae.com / CriStyleRenae1 / Facebook: CriStyle Renae Music

Allen C. Paul: AllenCPaul.com / IG: AllenCPaul / Facebook: A.C. Paul, AllenPaulMusic

Theme Music:

Performed by Teja Veal, from “The Hopeless Romantic EP”

LEAVE A COMMENT

What connection do you consider most vital to your artistic career, and how does that connection help you? 

Comment here at the website!

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SUPPORT US ON PATREON

We enjoy producing this show, but need your help to keep it going! Join the God and Gigs family by supporting us on Patreon.

Choose to Celebrate: Avoiding burnout during the holidays [Encore Post]

Holidays and special events can bring out the best - or the worst - in creatives

It’s a party for many, but for artists, it’s often just the opposite.

Those that work in creative disciplines are often the busiest during times of celebration. While others are enjoying each other’s company and reveling in recreation, musicians, designers and artists are often hard at work making sure the party goes smoothly.

This means, if we aren’t careful, a time of celebration can turn into a sense of obligation.

Melton Mustafa, Sr.: The Power of Knowing Your Purpose

Creating a lasting legacy requires dedication and passion, according to this acclaimed jazz musician

How does an artist craft a beautiful legacy, full of meaning and purpose? In Episode 6 of The God and Gigs Show, we talk with jazz artist, professor and composer Melton Mustafa, Sr.  As an accomplished trumpeter for over six decades, Mustafa has enjoyed working with many of the greats of jazz, Latin, pop, and R&B. His perspective on life as a musician and our purpose as artists carries a message which transcends the music itself. 

Melton Mustafa, Sr. began his musical career in Miami playing the trumpet in junior high school and, as a teenager, played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother.  He studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education. As a young musician, he traveled with bands backing artists like Sam & Dave, Betty Wright, Latimore, and the Marvelettes. In the ’80s, Mustafa played with the Duke Ellington orchestra and was employed as a sideman by Jaco Pastorius, James Williams, Bobby Watson, and John Hicks. He then joined the Count Basie orchestra in 1984 and stayed with that band for eight years before launching his own band and recording highly acclaimed solo projects. 

For the past few years, Mustafa has continued to write, mentor fellow musicians, and develop new projects while bravely battling a cancer diagnosis. He also continues to spearhead his annual concert series, the Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival, which attracts top talent and showcases young jazz musicians each year in South Florida.

Highlights

  • Mustafa’s beginnings as a musician and how early success affects your perspective.
  • Why studying in college doesn’t always impact musical ability
  • Why mentorship is so important and how healthy competition can drive you to improve
  • Why artists must fuel their own passion to create
  • Why artists must hold themselves accountable for the messages they put out into the world

Quotables from the interview

  • I didn’t care about fame…I just wanted to play music. 
  • If you don’t have something that you value, appreciate, something that you strive for, you’re not going to have the passion. 
  • Every culture in the world has a way of expressing themselves according to the scales or modes that they operate from.
  • The average person just listens to music, and they enjoy it, while they are being subliminally seduced.  
  • That’s the most important message you can put on the beats – the message that Almighty God wants the people to know. That’s what keeps me going.
  • Your words will define your world.

Respond and Comment: 

How would you define your purpose as an artist? What do you want people to feel / know / understand after hearing or experiencing your art?

Comment below in the show notes, or post your response on our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram pages.

Guest Links:

Patreon Links:

Host Links:

Theme Music:

  • Performed by Teja Veal, from “The Hopeless Romantic EP”

SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to us on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher. And if you like the show, please leave us a comment / rating/ review on iTunes or Stitcher!

SUPPORT US ON PATREON

We love making this show, but need your help to keep it going! Join the God and Gigs family by supporting us on Patreon.

Flaws and All: A perspective on musicians and grace

Worship musician and producer Greg Johnson offers hope to artists burdened by mistakes and failures

 

Greg Johnson (Naomi Paul Photography)

Greg Johnson is a keyboardist, musical director, producer and songwriter who is passionate about communicating God’s grace through word and music. He currently serves as musical director at Northview Christian Church in Dothan, Alabama under Dr. Hart Ramsey. He agreed to share his thoughts on musicians who are dealing with internal struggles.

“Broken can be beautiful when Grace sings the melody” – Gwen Smith

I remember when I found myself sitting in church wondering, “What am I doing?”

I felt as if the whole world knew areas of my life that could only be labeled as failure. I’m sure as a musician or an artist, there are some skeletons that you would not want anyone to excavate because they could lead to guilt and public shame. Let’s be honest; 95% of the time the title musician is associated with negative terms. However, musicians are not born with flaws, people are.

Here is the truth:
All have sinned.
All! (Rom 3:23)

Anyone who has been born of a woman has sin within them. Without sin, there would not be a need for Christ to come as God’s rescue plan for humanity. For years, the church has made us fearful of being honest about the flaws and failures that we have experienced; that is not Christianity.

The truth is your flaw does not negate God’s grace on your life. Your flaw does not change God’s mind about you. In fact, it is in our weakness that we are made strong and His strength becomes the source that we draw from every time that we serve (2 Cor 12:9). Your flaw is what qualifies you for His grace upon your life. God isn’t looking for anyone self-made as my pastor would say. That burden will exhaust you, because the image that you create, you must hide behind. And the image you hide behind will be the image that you will have to perpetuate.

It is Jesus who fully sees and fully knows a Samaritan (enemy of the Jews) woman at the well who, after encountering Jesus, goes into Samaria and testifies causing many to believe in Him.

It is Jesus who gives grace to the Prostitute caught in the act and, possibly as she stood naked in front of her accusers who classified her as the most immoral human being to walk the earth, He (the only one without sin) stoops and writes something that causes stones that were meant for execution under the law to fall one by one as her accusers to walked away.

It is Jesus who goes out of His way to break the Sabbath by healing a man who was paralyzed, not letting him wait another day for his healing.

It is Jesus who further violated the Sabbath when He told this same man to take up his bed which was considered work, a violation that caused one man to die for doing something as simple as gathering sticks.

It is Jesus who meets a man on his way to persecute the church, knocks him off his horse, and forms a lifelong love affair that changes his identity and life mission which was to testify about the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)

This same Jesus died for you. His death is greater than your flaw, and it is through our broken vessels that His light shines through. Wherever you are called to, whether it is in your local community or out of the country, know that you are not a failure but a redeemed and adopted child of God. Before being a musician, you are His. You may be wretched, but let your response be “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ”; in Him there is no condemnation. (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1)

Your identity is in Christ; not in your best days and certainly not in your worst.

Wherever you go, before you take the stage, reflect on Christ and His boundless one way love for you as you are – not some future, better, and cleaned up version of you. Rest in His accomplishment for you and make your boast in Him every chance you get. Jesus takes even the worst of sinners to demonstrate grace. Broken can be beautiful when Grace sings the melody. Playing and singing takes on a new meaning once this truth is understood. It will all be to the glory of God who gave you the gift and the redemption despite every failure that you or anyone else can name about yourself.