Art With No Intention

There’s a danger for people who create art for a living, or for people who are actively trying to create art for a living. While there’s real beauty in creating art that someone else pays cash-money for, the constant pressure associated with that art’s creation can cause artists to become disillusioned and cynical of the entire process. At this level, many artists feel like they’re selling out.

But there’s a way to fight against this.

People who create art for a living need to always have one artistic project that they’re pushing forward with no intended audience, and no intended income. And the form the art takes doesn’t have to be the same form that we use to create in our days jobs. I’d actually argue that it’s better when it’s not.

In my world, I can get really stuck on trying to create the next great church video, or trying to tell the next great story on video. I can become cynical and feel like a sell-out. Those are extremely important artistic callings, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

But I blog, too.

Blogging has become, for me, that art form that has no intended audience and no intended income. Blogging is God’s gift to me. It’s a space He invites me into so that I can become the 10 year-old version of me, caught up in some great adventure without knowing it’s a great adventure. There is no intended anything. I only experience life.

So as you look at your days and weeks, what one project are you pushing forward without any intention of any audience or income? And if you’re working in a church because you were invited to “come and be creative” but are finding yourself producing close-to-identical art widgets week in and week out, you really gotta answer this question.


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Posted in Art and Media.
  • Robert White

    What a great concept. I’m always running from assignment to assignment, focussing on what I can do to bring the dollars in. Maybe it’s time to pick up the ukelele again and continue learning how to play it.

    • Gary Molander

      Yes! I love the ukelele.

      • Robert White

        Picked one up about a year ago now. Dislocated my right shoulder a few years ago so it’s mucked up my guitar playing. Ukelele seemed like a good replacement. Started a DIY teaching course but got distracted. Blog about doing art for itself seemed like a good prompt to pick it back up again.

  • Jacqueline Kinsey

    Hi Gary. Not sure if this is a repeat of what I just wrote…it all just disappeared! So if you are proof reading these, please don’t repost.

    Anyways. Was wanting to share that this is exactly what I needed to hear! I have been an artist full time now for 4 years and have been struggling with feelings of “selling out” for God. I have been directed by the Spirit to ‘paint the unseen’ or ‘reveal the unseen’ with my art. I was not sure what that meant, but I started painting to try to make a living. I am disabled physically and have a minor TBI, preventing me from doing the work I used to do. But I love the direction that God has lead me in. I love painting, but struggle with using His gifts to make money. I get these visions or snapshots that I am asked to “document” and they always seem to be on the back burner or don’t get started. Now it is coming clear to me that I need to be doing these works along with the other. Those vision paintings help build my relationship with God. Maybe they are more for me and a dialogue between God and me (and if others get to see them, they might be blessed by them also). Thanks for spreading this blessing. Will add your blog to my list!

    • Gary Molander

      Thanks Jacqueline! Blessings on your immediate and long-term journey.

  • Tony J. Alicea

    This is so applicable to me right now. You see I took a part-time staff position at my church doing communications/IT. The idea was to use the rest of my time working to make writing a paying gig. The problem is that since that happened I’ve hit the worst writer’s block I’ve ever encountered.

    I’ve identified that since I shifted to wanting to “make money” with writing, all inspiration has waned. I pretty much hate everything I write and it’s been overwhelming. So now I can’t make any money with it and I haven’t even been able to enjoy it anymore.

    • Gary Molander

      I totally get it, Tony! Crazy the way this stuff “works”. Blessings over you, my friend.

  • Ericka Dizon

    This just confirmed what I thought. I’m working at our church as a video editor. It’s fun but lately it kind of feels like a struggle, not necessarily feeling like a sell-out but maybe I was just looking for something new and different. I started doing a few video production projects outside of ministry in hopes to expand my creativity. It did but it also left me fatigued and burnt out. Until recently, I started to pick up my colored pencils again and drew just for fun. And it was like a breath of fresh air. :)

    thanks for this.