Image – Moon, Oscar Lhermitte (2012)
Soundtrack – Sleep, The Roots
The Creative vs The Hustler (i) – In discussion w/ Malcom Mbombo
Moonlighters are typically defined as holding a second job or life, outside of typical working hours (Formerly identified as the ‘Extra-Curricular Creative’) are purists. S/he can be identified as disciplined and objective in their life. They are the epitome of the word ‘Compartmentalisation’ – dedicating time to being effective and time to be lost in their week. These are the individuals that perceive creativity as a form of catharsis, better yet a means to utilise their unengaged skills and interests. As a result, they typically work 9-5 Monday to Friday typically unrelated or distantly related to their personal practice or creative form, – excluding creative academics. The notion of compromise to institutional persuasion are a reflexive no, so their practice intends to remain as untouched by external influences as possible.
CL-Q : ‘Creativity and money don’t go together’ what are your immediate thoughts on this statement?
Malcom : Definitely not, they don’t go together…the person who knows how to create doesn’t necessarily know how to make money or create a business. They are two different disciplines. The creative can make money, with the knowledge they have but they first need to learn, understand and develop a business mentality. To make money you need to have a product, whether it is physical or digital. Not just that, you also need to know how to market it and who to market it to.
This is the basic principle behind it.
CL-Q : So, moonlighting is the safest path to notoriety, respect and financial independence?
Malcom : Working a 9-5 will always provide a feeling of safety, which people often only rely on and never aim to reach financial independence.
CL-Q : Break it down.
Malcom : Moonlighting is definitely a good option to start with, however, he/she should be aiming at completely becoming free from the 9 to 5 lifestyle. We often stay in that safe zone because; one, we don’t know how to come out of it or two, we are scared to take the leap.
Notoriety and respect can come out of moonlighting organically, however, to obtain financial freedom creatives have two choices with their endeavour:
1 – Create a physical or virtual product (Selling a project as a form of physical or virtual income) which translates into you doing less work but continuing to make an income.
2 – Create a platform to sell other peoples products (Creating a collective/community platform) You shouldn’t forget that most individuals we identify as icons now developed out of a movement. Whether intentional or not.
CL-Q : What I amongst others are concerned with, is the threat of generalising their work for the sake of mass appeal, as well as changing the dynamic in which creatives naturally work. By that, I mean, asking a client what they want and then making it. As soon as that relationship forms, the sense of personal investigation & experimentation has ended, resulting in a dynamic that suggests that they’re employed by their clients ?
Malcom : The questions that needs to be asked is, ‘would you take any pleasure doing this work? Is this work only being done for financial gain?’
The return for the creative cannot be only monetary, there must be a need for personal satisfaction. You can compromise on your investigation and experimentation however your personal fulfilment will always need to come first.
You have to look at it this way: A creative is like a store, within the store he/she has his catalogue of skills / services / outcomes. What’s on display is willingly presented by the creative with the intention to share and sell them. When the initiator comes into the shop they choose something from the catalogue, buy it and leave. If they cannot find what they like, either through availability or taste, they will simply go to another store. The creative is therefore not employed by the client but they have instead an exchange of services based on mutual agreement.
CL-Q : So we’re already trading?
Malcom : Effectively, yes.
CL-Q : In context to individuals who are practicing by night, (no pun intended) how does that shape their approach?
Malcom : The benefit in being a moonlighter is the ability to grow your practice leisurely. The truth is many people maintain their practice after hours, for two reasons; one, they ‘re subconsciously fading out their practice. Two, they are hesitant, uninformed and uncommitted.
I’ll say this, non-conformity in your creative practice is possible, but it requires three things; clarity of intention (with yourself), confirmation of your audience interest & personal relationship between you and the customer, no middle man. Lastly, diversification of your product/s or skill sets, whatever they may be.
CL-Q : What’s the biggest mistake people usually make?
Malcom : One of the big mistakes people make is thinking too small, consequently undervaluing their work. If you believe that what you do is unique and has high value then your price should reflect that. It’s better to aim high and miss rather than aim low and hit.
CL-Q : Where do they start right here and now?
Malcom : Think of your catalogue of skills and what you would like to offer. Build your reputation and presence. Position yourself as a person of authority in your field. Connect with your audience. Influence and money come as a by-product of autonomy and demand.
If you have a job, work towards leaving it.
Work full time but aim to be part time. Work part time but aim to be fully self-sufficient.
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