“Do you have a day job?”
“Yeah, my multimedia company is my day job.”
“No, I mean, like, a real job?”
“That is a real job…”
I’ve had this conversation, or one similar, more than once since founding Gen11 Studios in 2011. It’s hard for people to fathom that it’s all I do: run my own multimedia company. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to fathom, too. Sometimes, I’m having so much fun that I forget all the hard work that got me to this point. Sometimes, I’m working so hard that I forget that I’m supposed to be having fun. And, sometimes, well, I just plain forget. Straight out, I will say that running your own company––any company––is not for the faint of heart, especially when you’re operating on a mostly freelance basis. Anyone who has ever worked freelance knows that when it rains it floods, but just as quickly the work, the contacts, the leads can dry up and disappear: businesses close, investors part ways, corporations dissolve. Even a contract with its seemingly mandatory force majeure clause is a guarantee that there is no guarantee. Worse still, sometimes, for any one of myriad reasons, you don’t get paid, and that––for the working freelancer and/or the young start-up––can be the most disheartening, devastating prospect of all. And yet, and yet … the work itself can be, and most generally is, wholly and extremely gratifying. To the artist, no matter profession or medium, creation is life: as long as we’re creating, we’re living. To the entrepreneur, no matter profession or medium, remuneration is longevity: as long as the cash flows, the business grows. So, how does an artist transition into being an entrepreneur––from amateur to professional––and how do they find balance on the tightrope between starving artist and successful business person? I have absolutely no idea, but I have a hunch––or six.