Why Artists Get Famous After They Die

by Melody Fletcher on April 19, 2011

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. :)

Image Credit: Dammm Dead Artist Make More Money Sculpture by Richard Hubal

{ 9 comments }

Richard Hubal May 2, 2011 at 06:36

I think I was upset that day when I did the piece. Ironically, it sold the very day I had it displayed back in 1992. Ahh yes.. the rage. I do not look at my work as “children’ since I have 8 kids of my own. I look at it as an extension and muse, sort’ve like all those who can comfortably dance on a dance floor and I feel that it is uncomfortable for me to dance at all. Yet my dancing is to create with any medium instead. Richard Hubal

Melody Fletcher May 2, 2011 at 14:24

Hi Richard,

Thanks for commenting. I like the metaphor of flowing energy being like dancing. Connecting to strong energies can be very uncomfortable. But it gets better with time. Hopefully by now you’ve found enough balance to be able to fully enjoy the dance. :)

Hugs,

Melody

Mary Carol November 26, 2011 at 04:02

Wow! DR sure led me to the right post this time!

Wow again. This is me all over. I have 5 published novels. The publishers made $120,000 off the first two (20,000 copies sold), of which I got $5000. The last three I didn’t make anything. Ditto for two books of poetry, the second of which won book of the year in 2009. And now I’m creating sculpture. And putting it in my house…

Okay, Melody, if you need an extra push to get into distance counseling, I’m pushing! I’ve GOT to get over this! I must have a bunch of really messed up beliefs. Lately I’ve been thinking about putting my novels out as e-books (I have the rights back). But I haven’t gotten up the energy to do it.

Please, please, please… I don’t think I can get this together on my own, and when I sell a gazillion books and a couple of sculptures, I’ll buy you that jacuzzi. (I have enough to pay now for the help, just saying…)

Hope and hugs,

Mary Carol

PS Cool that the artist commented! I hope he’s having tons of success.
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Melody Fletcher November 26, 2011 at 17:32

Hey Mary,

Personally, I’m all ready to go, but because my business is registered in the UK and my bank account is in Spain, I have to get these special The Hague Apostil papers drawn up. Without this stuff, I can’t even get a commercial Paypal account and cannot accept online payments. This means lawyers, and they take their time… But I should get those papers any day now (truly) and as soon as I do, I’ll upload everything to the server and make the big announcement here and in the newsletter. It’s just a matter of days now. I keep telling myself that everything happens with perfect timing. That’s kind of a mantra here in Spain, where things just happen at their own pace. You really learn patience here. I would assume it’s the same in Mexico… Valuable lessons, but sometimes quite annoying. :P

Huge hugs and TTU soon!
Melody

PS. Oh, and getting a Jacuzzi as a “tip” would be so awesome. I’d be all “Oh, you like the Jacuzzi? It was a gift fro one of my clients…” Ha, ha!
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Mary Carol November 26, 2011 at 22:52

Yeah!! I’ll hold my breath till the announcement… oops, turning blue. Whew. Breathing again… I’ll get my kids to set me up on Paypal when they come visit for Christmas. Another reason to have children – yes!

Mexico is the same. And I’m tri-national: US citizen, pension from Canada, living in Mexico. Even with everyone being super-nice and helpful, which they are, it takes forever to get anything done across three borders. I’ve never been a patient person, which is no doubt why I’ve ended up in Mexico. At least there’s lots of sun, surf, and guacamole while I wait!

More hugs,

Mary Carol
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Sameer January 6, 2012 at 14:45

Hey Melody,

This is awesome. Thanks for providing Archive blogs…

Please help understanding: MJ’s music made money like he never did when he exist. The music is same (nothing like a hidden album come out after his death). This looks different than examples mentioned above.

Love & Hugs,
Sameer

Melody Fletcher January 6, 2012 at 15:41

Hi Sameer,

You’re so welcome. I love to go through the archives of a blog I enjoy, so offering that feature here was a no-brainer. :)

Michael Jackson clearly had no issue earning money (keeping it was another matter…). But he DID have quite a few self-acceptance issues, which would have also blocked him from allowing the acceptance by others. When he died, all of that resistance melted away, allowing EVERYONE who resonated with him to find him, therefore increasing his record sales. It’s not an all or nothing scenario. You don’t either have 100% resistance or 0. There are different degrees and they will play out in your reality in different ways. I hope that answered your question. :)

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Sameer January 10, 2012 at 06:53

Hats off Melody!

I loved your answer. You are just Perfect!

I get 100 times better answers to my questions than I expect every time. You are awesome :o )

Love & Hugs,
Sameer

Melody Fletcher January 10, 2012 at 14:30

Thanks Sameer. I’m so glad you found it helpful. :)

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