Naked Money :: A Community Project

Money, money, money. What a sticky subject - particularly in the world of art and creativity where you're more likely to be asked to work for free, or worse 'exposure' (insert screaming), than any other industry.

Worst of all, creative types tend to be pretty tight-lipped about the subject of money, leading to even more confusion about what to charge and how to value your work. Not to mention the excruciating shame that comes from not making enough money (usually despite working your arse off), or having several diverse income streams, or even (whisper it) a day job!!

Compound this with the current internet culture of 6-figure this and 7-figure that ("...and I do all this whilst working only half an hour a day from the beach!"), and it's not surprising that so many of us are burning out, and suffering from stress, depression, and anxiety. Not exactly conducive to making art, much less living the beautiful, peaceful, joyful, creative life that we all long for.

I recently shared this article on Facebook about knowing what your creative work is worth, and it started a flurry of conversation, with the majority of creative people expressing their immense frustration with the situation. Personally, I think there is far too much opacity around the subject of money, particularly in creative fields and I know many talented creative people are struggling and beating themselves up unnecessarily – I think that Manjula's article, which introduces the idea of income transparency in creative industries, is really on to something.

People who do creative work avoid talking about money, because it feels un-artist-like. We already have plenty of romance around creative careers. I think we could do with a little more real talk. – Manjula Martin

I've been wanting to write about some of this stuff - money shame and value etc – for a while, but I always shied away from it. It felt far too big and scary and shameful.

Until recently when I got brutally honest with my blog readers and shared a post reviewing a (fairly financially disastrous) course launch. I told them everything, and whilst I almost didn’t post it, I am so glad I did.

Being honest about not reaching my (incredibly modest) money goals in a world where we are bombarded with stories of 6-figure weeks and working five minutes a day from the beach felt like an admission of failure and not-good-enoughness that was almost too much to bear.

But I shared it anyway, because there is a glorious ‘fuck-it’ energy that emerges after a gigantic failure, and within minutes I was FLOODED with messages and emails from people falling over themselves to thank me for my honesty (and commending my bravery), and I realized this:

We are doing EVERYONE a disservice (including ourselves) by hiding our money stuff. In particular the secret side of it – the shame and the failures and the months where we aren’t quite able to make ends meet - but also the practical side of it. How do you place value on creative work? And what on earth are the industry standards (hint: probably a lot higher than your current prices)?

We creatives all have some kind of money shame or financial disaster stories, and most of us don’t talk about them. Which leaves all of us stranded in this awful place where we feel like we’re the only ones ‘failing’ or not measuring up in some way because we have no idea that we are not alone. Or we end up taking that job 'for the exposure' because we think that's the way the industry works.

As an aside here, please, for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT WORK FOR FREE!!!

I, for one, have had enough of the bullshit.

I’m not hiding anymore and from now on I’ll be sharing my squirmy, shameful money bits with my audience right alongside the other highs and lows of being a self-employed artist. Because I think it’s important for all of us.

And now I’ve asked (challenged) a handful of my lovely artist friends to do the same for this project.

I've asked them to join me on a squirmy, uncomfortable journey to share some of the less-than-optimal bits of their money stories, with some practical advice thrown in for good measure.

Let's finally shine some light on the financial side of being a working creative.


There are several ways you can join in with this discussion and see behind the scenes of real artists and creatives as they share the nitty gritty of their financial lives.

  • The best thing for you to do is click the button below and pop your email address in the form - the project has now ended, but when you sign up below you'll get a beautiful ebook containing all 31 essays (You'll also get access to Eli's Studio Notes and the Secret Stash of freebies - including ebooks of previous community projects). 
  • You can come and join us in our Facebook group, where we'll be discussing the submission by that day's contributor, as well as sharing our own stories and resources, and meeting lots of awesome like-minded people.
  • If you feel like sharing things on the socials - comments, paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, etc - related to your money stories, you can use the hashtag #nakedmoneyproject across the board.
  • You can also add your name and blog to the blogroll at the bottom of this post - a great way to connect with new friends and find awesome new blogs to follow.

meet the peeps

Apart from me, of course, you'll be hearing from 30 other amazingly talented artists and creatives, including: Zoe Hewett | Melissa Dinwiddie | Tara Leaver | Mindy Tsonas | Lucy Pearce | Sarah Trumpp | Jo Bradshaw | Claire Brewster | Jen Morris | Tiare Smith | Carrie Brummer | Marianne Power | Tori Weyers | Sam Maher | Tracy Verdugo | Melissa Partridge | Terri Belford | Sophy Dale | Julia Barnickle | Julia Elmore | Lizz Mears | Eryka Peskin | Denise Dare | Renee Magnusson | Stephanie Medford | Cathleen Nardi | Hannah Braime | Angela Terris | Ani Stafford-TownsendRosie Slosek

I hope you join us, and I can't wait to see what our lovely contributors share. It's going to be amazing!

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