In an interview, the novelist Ian McEwan once complained light-heartedly about what it was like to go out and market a book after spending all the time creating it: “I feel like the wretched employee of my former self. My former self being the happily engaged novelist who now sends me, a kind of brush salesman or double glazing salesman, out on the road to hawk this book. He got all the fun writing it. I’m the poor bastard who has to go sell it.”
Every artist can relate. Very few of us got into this business because we wanted to have to manage social media accounts or approve an advertising campaign. Writers became writers because they wanted to write. Actors want to act — not spend two weeks on a grueling press tour. The founder wants to be working on their product, not polishing blog posts for some content marketing side hustle.
But considering how few people get to produce art for a living, and how much drudgery and “hawking” is involved in almost every other industry and profession, this seems like a rather privileged complaint. Who is going to sell your movie, your app, your artwork, your service if not you? Even if you pay someone else a lot of money, how hard are they really going to work?
Nothing has sunk more creative projects than this silly, entitled notion that “I’m just the ideas guy.” Or that McEwan put it, that there is a difference between being an artist and a salesman. In fact — they are the same job.