Molly Crabapple's rules for creative success in the Internet age



Great article!

That said, I’m curious as to why I can’t find a kindle edition listing for the new book.

#7 is perfect.

  1. Remember that most people who try to be artists are kind of lazy. Just by busting your ass, you’re probably good enough to put yourself forward, so why not try?

When I was a musician, I sucked. However, I had a work ethic. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of successful musicians. Those with talent and those with a work ethic. If you aren’t succeeding, you have neither. Its time to leave and stop pretending that you are a creative type.

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Hats off to you, Molly. I am still an admirer of yours over the Donald Trump incident in U.A.E. You exposed a lot of ‘journalists’ for what they have truly become that day. Your art, integrity, curiosity, and intelligence are an inspiration.

I think the following has a much broader audience in America than just the creative class.


What if you’re making a platform, but you’re not from Silicon Valley, flush with investor money, or a douchebag?

awesome article!
time to jumpstart my portfolio
and maybe some of my concepts
that’ve never fully materialized.

Well, she found one new fan today. Me likey.

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Be a mercenary towards people with money. Be generous and giving to good people without it.

This should be the new Golden Rule.


I’m a musician, songwriter and recently (couple years) an indie author of paranormal horror and science fiction. So many of these “rules” hit the mark with me, but especially rules #7, 12 and 15. Thanks for the reminders. I’ve copied and hung them on my white board. I’ll not forget them again! ;o)

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I’ve been an artist and an artist advocate for a long time. These points are true and art schools should be teaching these very things, that is, base an arts education on realities and some rules of the road. As a college art teacher I came in contact with many students who felt the world owned them (or, just the opposite: fuck everybody). I had no problem telling these kids that when they do that they hurt ALL artists.

We are part of a group, similar to religious and ethnic groups (with, of course, some major differences). Being an artist is a set of beliefs. And those beliefs are often not articulated very well, nor are they often understood. And that’s why we are often marginalized. To that, I say it’s really important to do this one simple thing: simply talk about what you do to your friends and family–and to people who are interested in what you have to say.

Artists don’t always think the same thing nor agree but we are involved in a practice that is important to our culture. Whether you like another artist’s work or not, remember, you are involved in the same process of thinking, creating, talking, doing and more thinking. And, because of that we are connected (whether you like it or not).


Leaving aside that I don’t think its the polar opposite of what Cory says, the important thing here is that its an honest account from an artist as to what she believes is important.

I think that’s the take away, that there are many ways to succeed and that each artist can only tell us what worked (Or what they believed worked) for them.

Absolutely correct. Excellent advice for new and chronologically enriched artists. Thank you Molly Crabapple.


Name of my new band.

Have at it!! I’ve been Chronologically Enriched (enjoying the Geezer Discount) for some time now, and, as a bonus, I’ve been Vertically Challenged since the 5th grade, when I went from being one of the tallest girls in the class to the second shortest. Ah. Life.

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Thanks for the great article. I 've done a lot of freelance artwork over the years mostly street level stuff: paintings on cars,horse trailers,sign painting,illustration on t-shirts, murals., etc. To this day the so-called average person refuses to acknowledge the hard work involved in creating and worth the price. They don’t consider that artist has sacrificed their time and effort to make it look easy-. Let’s face it sometimes it is. I can’t tell you how clients get that my little son can do for a lollipop look on their faces. I adopted the attitude to invite them to to do just that.With very few exceptions does it mean A certain craft can be learned over night up to the sustained level of sure crafts person.I mean, anyone can stay inside the lines right? I, unfortunately, attended and graduated from the Art Institutes in the eighties*(if anyone reading this is considering attending these “for-profit” rip-offs- don’t do it.I don’t recommend it.Ask the Department of Justice )* I remember them fostering this idea amongst students, of notoriety vs.getting paid for art work. At this same time they were pushing a million dollar publicity campaign for NAFTA through the school I attended disguised as a contest. If you won your wonderful prize was $500 art supplies. Flash forward years ago later, Netflix did very something very similar with their website design.They had a contest based on prestige and privilege redesigning a known trademark and probably got the whole sheebang for less than the cost of a bag of Bugles. I mean that’s a matter of contention about the internet and big money and how we as artists react to the ever evolving artistic landscape and who gets paid and who doesn’t. Will artists reactions set a president for the future? You Betcha.

Because opinions differ?


Not only artists work for nothing. And give stuff away. So does every business that has ever started. If you do it right, you eventually get paid on the value you create.

The value you create is determined by others.

Not you.

Yes, you may feel what you do is valuable. To you. But if a lot of artists take that advice in Molly’s column regarding payment, a lot will be like failed businesses. Largely unknown.

Charge when you produce value. As determined by others.

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That’s a good take-away from your post.

Sometimes, the value is influenced by the charge itself. The $2000 bottle of champagne definitely tastes better. Asking for money instead of providing for free can be a way to enhance the perceived value.

I enjoy her work but it would be nice if her advice wasn’t served with the healthy side of class-warfare. Her advice is inherently contradictory - there’s no incentive to dream big, bust my ass and weather rejection repeatedly if there’s a guarantee of income.

We should all get a guaranteed, fair wage (paid by…someone?) and yet still be aggressive about creative rates and rake nasty rich people over the coals but give your effort away to nonprofits and so on and so forth.

I’ve worked for plenty of nonprofit assholes and plenty of nice wealthy people. And there’s no such thing as a guaranteed income or return on creative efforts.