Mags Loves Jimi

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” ― Frida Kahlo

Category: Entrepreneur

Labours of Love


Emotional labor

That’s the labor most of us do now. The work of doing what we don’t necessarily feel like doing, the work of being a professional, the work of engaging with others in a way that leads to the best long-term outcome.

The emotional labor of listening when we’d rather yell.

The emotional labor of working with someone instead of firing them.

The emotional labor of seeking out facts and insights that we don’t (yet) agree with.

The emotional labor of being prepared.

Of course it’s difficult. That’s precisely why it’s valuable. Sometimes, knowing that it’s our job—the way we create value—helps us pause a second and decide to do the difficult work.

Almost no one gets hired to eat a slice of chocolate cake.

Free Yourself | Today I Will…


Working for free (but working for yourself)

Freelancers, writers, designers, photographers–there’s always an opportunity to work for free.

There are countless websites and causes and clients that will happily take your work in exchange for exposure.

And in some settings, this makes perfect sense. You might be making a contribution to a cause you care about, or, more likely, honing your craft at the same time that you get credibility and attention for your work.

But just because you’re working for free doesn’t mean you should give away all your upsides.

Consider the major publishing platforms that are happy to host your work, but you need sign away your copyright. Or get no credit. Or give the publisher the right to change your work in any way they see fit, or to use your image (in perpetuity) and your reputation for commercial gain without your oversight or participation…

Now, more than ever, you have the power to say “no” to that.

Because they can’t publish you better than you can publish yourself.

It doesn’t matter if these are their standard clauses. They might be standard for them, but they don’t have to be standard for you and for your career.

Here’s the thing: you’re going to be doing this for a long time. The clients you get in the future will be the direct result of the clients you take today. The legacy of your work down the road will be related to the quality of the work you do today.

It’s your destiny and you should own it.

Freelancers of all kinds need to be in a hurry. Not a hurry to give in to one-sided deals and lousy clients. Instead, we need to be in a hurry to share our bravest work, in a hurry to lean into the opportunity, in a hurry to make work that people would miss if it were gone.

Via Seth’s Blog


Majesty and Meekness | The Myth of the Tortured Artist


Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo

While writing my next article on the introduction of TEXTALYSERs in Australia (this is due to high mobile-phone related deaths on the road), I naturally gravitated towards tangents whenever possible (self-indulgent I know), which brought me to reference the ‘tortured artist‘ myth. I did a bit of a gooble (pronounced GOO-BELLED – the portmanteau of google and stumble… I’m not sure if it works as well out of my head as it did in *cheeky sigh of resign* I tried…

Perhaps goobling this article was meant to be? I think being a tortured artist, as I wrote in my interview with the renowned artist and loving father Gav Barbey; is a great sales pitch with potent ROI if governed by a steady sense of self and proportion.

Gav is a Painter, Film Maker, Sculptor, Fine Art Artist (he was trained at the prestigious NIDA) and a writer. “The ‘tortured artist’ thing adds to this drama – it’s a great sales pitch, isn’t it?” I have to agree, as an artist myself, it does concocts a mysterious and dangerous element to an otherwise romantic and established medium of presenting life as we know it with life as we wish to see it.

You can watch Gav’s enriching Tedx Talk here: How to draw like a child | Gav Barbey | TEDxUniMelb

Screen shot 2015-02-25 at 3.58.48 PM

“These rituals around Artists are a bit funny.” I ask him if everyone is an artist; “This argument has been held in deep discussion since day dot. The word “art” has fucked everyone – art is decorative. Art is decorative to push an emotional understanding to the masses.” Gav maintains Picasso was just having fun, not reveling in his torturery but enjoying the freedom to move from style to style which is something we shun now. Pigeonholing is a key factor to the slow financial progress of the Artist. “This is what Picasso is saying: I want to experiment! He knew a lot of disciples and that translated as his best work.”

‘Tortured’ is a strong word… maybe we’re all ‘indecisive artists’,’confused’, ‘perplexed’, ‘vexed’ or just plain ‘not-happy-jan‘. Whatever you call yourself, the myth of the tortured artist is one of intrigue with many insights into the world of creativity and chaos.

I did not write this article. All credits go to Huffington Post + writer Christopher Zara.


The Myth of the Tortured Artist — and Why It’s Not a Myth

06/18/2012 03:46 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2012
  • Christopher Zara Media, Culture, and Arts Journalist
  • It’s always been my belief that all great art comes from pain. Van Gogh painted The Starry Night while in emotional torment; Lennon and McCartney forged their creative partnership following the death of their respective mothers; Milton pennedParadise Lost after losing his wife, his daughter, and his eyesight. Such unremitting grief would send even the most grounded among us into a frenzied Xanax binge and associated fetal position, but these celebrated artists chose not to recoil in passive suffering. Instead, they turned their sorrow into something the world would cherish.


    The idea of the tortured artist has long been debated in our culture, but to me it always seemed a self-evident truth. Art is a reflection of humanity, and humanity’s greatest virtue is its ability to overcome adversity. Why shouldn’t that same adversity inspire our greatest art? In fact, it’s a topic that fascinates me so much, I wrote a book about it, aptly titled Tortured Artists, which takes an admiring yet irreverent look at the link between creative genius and personal adversity. Did you know that Picasso nearly died in an earthquake at the age of three? Or that Frankenstein was inspired by a volcanic eruption? Or that Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse as an act of revenge?


    Although my book approaches the subject matter in a fun way, it centers on a weighty idea: the idea that suffering does not happen in vain. Van Gogh may have suffered from anxiety, absinthe addiction, and debilitating seizures, but his suffering gave him insight, and that insight, in turn, gave the world a new kind of art called Post-Impressionism. Such poetic symmetry is enough to convince even the stodgiest fatalist that the universe is not as cold and random as we perceive it to be, which is why I’ve always found the notion of tortured artists so appealing.


    But not everyone shares my zeal. In fact, the more I speak about tortured artists at author events and in interviews, the more I realize what a polarizing topic it actually is. Some folks seem to consider the primary thesis in Tortured Artists — that pain is a requirement for producing great art — a biased assessment of the creative process.

    However, I never claimed that art cannot be produced without suffering, only that art produced without suffering is not likely to be very good. Why? Because the central function of an artist is to convey an idea. That idea can be visceral or intellectual; it can be conveyed through a painting, a song, a poem, or a guy dancing around in a moose costume. The method doesn’t matter. Artists, both brilliant and hackneyed, create out of the same basic desire to communicate. But it’s we art lovers who invest our attention, our time, in their creations. Why should we invest in a work of art that was created without conflict, or struggle, or pain? Where is the challenge?


    Of course, I always knew there would be people who wouldn’t buy the tortured-artist concept, but what I find most surprising is that the people who are least likely to subscribe to the idea also happen to be artists themselves. Indeed, many creative types are simply fed up with what they see as a baseless falsehood perpetuated by romantic tales of Kurt Cobain blowing his brains out and Sylvia Plath putting her head in the oven. In a 2011 interview, the indie rocker Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco fame, called the concept of the tortured artist a “damaging mythology,” one that impeded his own battles with addiction, anxiety, and depression.


    And Tweedy is not alone in his hostility. In speaking publicly about tortured artists, I’ve been accused of suggesting that drug addicts are better off high and the mentally ill should not seek help, if only because such impediments, by my estimation, help them produce better art. But calling John Belushi one of the greatest comic performers of the 1970s is not the same as condoning his excessive drug use. Even if we ignore the fact that few performers were not on drugs in the 1970s, we needn’t see Belushi’s brutal addiction as having caused his talent. Rather, it was a symptom of the same insatiable void that drove his need to perform. You might say that void tortured Belushi; you might also say it’s what made him great.


    So why, then, are so many artists still turned off by the tortured-artist concept? For some, I suspect, it simply hits too close to home. Consider the wedge it creates between two fundamental desires: the desire to be happy versus the desire to produce great art. The stereotype of the tortured artist as a long-suffering creative genius suggests that those two states are mutually exclusive — and that’s an unsettling thought for anyone who practices a creative craft. But even those of us who don’t have the wherewithal to choose between happiness and being a great artist can take comfort in knowing that the former is within our grasp. Let’s leave the suffering to the geniuses. It’s what they do.

    Further reading:

    Scientists: The ‘Tortured Artist’ Is a Real Thing via Mental Floss

    In the Spirit of an Entrepreneur



    The entrepreneurial spirit is called upon, it seems, for the ‘call-to-action’.

    We are creative. We are different. We are innovative. 

    So what does it mean to be an innovator and how can brand [you] follow real trends, help real people and make real money? There are many sites dedicated to real-time market share knowledge, giving young start-up and entrepreneurs a wealth of information on the nitty-gritty of business. Having said that, there is no point gnawing at the numbers if you haven’t got the content; and furthermore, the vision.

    According to The Business of Fashion, ‘Running a small fashion business is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week commitment requiring militant self-discipline. You will need to think of yourself as a CEO first and will likely spend less than 10 percent of your time designing. You will have to oversee all aspects of the business, not just the creative parts. It is an exciting, exhilarating experience, but not a decision that should be taken lightly.’

    There are fundamental questions that need to be asked of yourself and your audience before moving onto potential investors. Having your USP (unique selling proposition) locked down will instill personal confidence and allow Michael Jackson Moonwalk ease to the next level.

    1. #WhoMadeYourClothes? (Know your makers. Let your tribe know you.) 

    There are many ways to get in front of your audience and let them see you. By narrating a dialogue for your brand (Everlane is a good example) through honest talking point interactions – what does your brand stand for? What is important to you? What do you want your customers to remember about your product; when backed with timely action (getting an email list – MailChimp is great for that – or staying sharp on your social media) your consumers will trust the image you present them.

    Building a business is about creating a space for a need to be fulfilled. What you say to others is just as important as whom you are saying it to. Business requires networking, and networking requires preparation. Getting in front of potential advisers, mentors, investors is paramount to gaining traction and trust. Let others see you but make sure you are presenting yourself as you wish to be seen and then exceeding expectations with how you actually are.

    2. What are we responding to? (The laws of attraction) 

    Consumers are curious folk. They want so they feel. They feel so they see. We are visually driven people attuning to pleasure senses. What we love about products is the thing we love about humans, in a strange sort of way. Our progress in the world consists of building relationships. We do this by gaining trust. The way to gain people’s trust is to be transparent; meaning to be visible and accountable. This can be done in many ways. Social media is a great way to have an ear on the ground.

    Hosting mini events relating to your business is a definite way of attracting customers. Pop-up stores, q and a with another contemporary, guest speaking at a university or event, and even Periscoping your workday or a pivotal moment in your career. Keeping your audience’s attention is paramount in this competitive sport of entrepreneurship. Be mindful of the content or product you are offering. Positivity does breed positivity but a saucy product can have both sides attracted to your business. As they say in the dating game; it’s not you, it’s me.

    3. Be money minded. (How much/How long?) 

    The information highway is a click away. Knowing how, when, why and where is a mandatory for navigating through this world of social interaction. BoF shares; ‘Too many designers have been in the situation where they have orders to fill, but insufficient cash to buy the raw materials to produce and deliver those orders. To stretch the time you are able to survive with limited cash, ask manufacturers for longer payment terms, and wholesale customers for deposits in advance.’ 

    Are your services priced properly? Do they justify the production/retail costs? In a world where bigger is better, one can easily assume higher price = better product. The consumers are the ones who should be debating this issue – not the brand owner.  As an entrepreneur it is your job to know the value of something – the true value; the real and perceived.

    Then all you need is leverage.

    4. Introduction test. (Would you recommend publicly?) 

    Remember introducing your partner to your parents? How daunting. What if they don’t like each other? What if someone says something inappropriate? What if it’s me? Sharing things that you love can be an overwhelming experience. If whatever you are selling is not worth telling someone about, possibly every chance you get – where appropriate – then perhaps it’s time to re-approach the context of the product. The trick is to have two things happen – how and what. It is as much how you promote, as what you promote. Consider this with care and rationality. If you’ve created a sustainable, organic condom line your not going to introduce it on your personal Facebook page; but would your friends? Would your contemporaries publicly announce it as well? The reality is that people love talking about what they love. The goal is to introduce your product in a way that produces the same effect.

    Easier said than done? Definitely. It takes research, trial and error, understanding your product and your consumers. But most of all, delivering on your promise. ‘The key to content marketing success is to add value. That’s the secret.’ If you are adding value to society, there will always be a place for growth in your business, which can lead to financial and personal gain.

    So taking all of these fundamental points into account your road to entrepreneurial success is just around the corner; or should I say in the spirit.


    This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time.  Read more at: Fashion Capital.