About three months ago, a story came out about Vivian Maier, an 83 year old street photographer whose body of work was “discovered” to great acclaim only days after she passed away. This isn’t the first time that an artist toiled away, unrecognized for years, only to find fame and fortune (for the estate anyway) a short time after their death. Why does this happen? From an energetic point of view, there’s a perfectly logical explanation for this phenomenon.
Most artists – painters, sculptors, actors, musicians, photographers, film makers, writers, and so on, have an emotional attachment to their creations, their “babies”, making them horribly vulnerable to criticism. They hold a plethora of limiting beliefs about their work or themselves, which in turn, creates a limiting vibration around the subject.
Many artists don’t believe that their work is ever going to be good enough to earn money. They are perfectionists at their core, and cannot release a piece to the public until they’re completely satisfied. But that satisfaction never comes because perfection is never reached. They’re often not even sure what it is they’re looking for, they just keep judging their own work as lacking. It just doesn’t measure up.
This insecurity also extends to an intense fear of criticism. A painter may be so afraid of a bad review that he’d rather not release his work to the public at all. It’s better not to risk the humiliation in the first place. An author may get one rejection letter and hide his manuscript away for years, unwilling to subject himself to that kind of pain again.
Quite a few artistic people hold the belief that one simply cannot earn money through their art. I know a writer that has been on the NY Times best seller list, who used to go around reciting a quote that went something like “Only an idiot would try to get rich by writing a book” (I tried to find the actual quote, but couldn’t. If you know it, please let me know in the comments so I can attribute it.) It was a bit of a mantra he used to justify why it was ok that he couldn’t live off of his writing. It hadn’t occurred to him that he didn’t have to believe that.
Usually, artists suffer from a combination of negative beliefs around their work. Perhaps they believe that they must suffer in order for their work to be worthy. And the poor suffer so much more valiantly than the rich… Whatever the actual beliefs are, they generally keep the work from being discovered and recognized. The artist doesn’t believe that distributing his work to the public would be a good idea (for whatever reason) and therefore, his energy will not allow that to happen.
Creating, however, is not without consequence. When we create, be it with our minds or with our hands, we set energy in motion. And energy never just flows one way. By creating something and bringing it into the physical, we have to flow energy. A musician who plays an inspired piece is connected; he’s in the flow. A painter who loses all track of time for hours only to discover that his brush strokes have combined into a striking portrait, is connected; he’s in the flow. An actress who mimics emotion so masterfully that it makes the audience laugh or cry with her is in the flow; she’s fully connected. And in that flow, that creative space, an energy exchange is ready to occur. You flow energy out, and you can receive an equal amount of energy back (not necessarily in the same form).
Providing we don’t block this returning energy, it can come to us in a myriad of ways – one of those is money. But that’s the key: providing we don’t block the flow. If an artist harbors beliefs that state that he cannot be compensated in any way for his creations, that in fact, he has to suffer in order to create (not true by the way), the return of the value – the energy – is cut off.
When we die, we return to a state of pure, positive energy. We release all of our negative and limiting beliefs. We stop holding on to all of the ridiculous notions of a need to suffer, and unblock the flow of energy. And that’s when all those creations, all the art, gets discovered. That’s when it can reach all those individuals it was created for – those who resonate with it and will benefit from it. That’s when the value can return to the creator.
If you’re an artist, you don’t have to wait until you’re dead to become famous. You don’t have to die to start that energy flow. Take a look at your belief system. If you’re not benefiting from your creations, chances are, you’re blocking the value that’s trying to come back to you. I’m not saying that you should start creating for the sake of money – create for the sake of joy and passion. But don’t deprive the world and yourself of your talent simply because of fear. Of course, you can always wait until you’re six feet under if that seems easier.