Maria Brophy


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    ‘Strategies for a Successful Art Business!’
business of art / Motivation / Philosophy

Money is a Commitment

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Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness….the moment one definitely commits himself, the providence moves, too.”  William Hutchinson Murray

Money is the physical manifestation of a promise to do something in the near future.

You prove your commitment when you put your money down.

Once the money is paid, you are well on your way to the end result.

On the other side of the fence, your clients are committed when they put their money down.

ON TRAVEL:  Remember that last plane ticket you bought?  You knew it was non-refundable; there was no turning back.

The moment your pulled out your Visa card and made the payment, your mind went to where you were going to be.  For me it was Hawaii.   The day I bought our plane tickets to the North Shore, I was already surfing Puaena Point in my mind!  I was there before I was actually there.

ON BUSINESS:  Some people call me hardnosed, and heck, I’ve been called worse!  But when it comes to business, I’m very serious about keeping my little venture running.  And so, I have to weed out the committed from the bullshooters.

Often we have people come into our lives that promise us the moon (and lots of money), but don’t deliver.  Many years ago we figured out a great way to make the bull-shooters disappear and the serious stay.  (And it prevented us from ever getting ripped off again.)

Drew and I instituted a policy that requires a client to pay 50% up front (or an advance of royalties), before Drew will begin work on any art project.

I almost never deviate from that requirement, even when dealing with friends or family.  Here’s why:

Without the client’s commitment (money), they could change their mind halfway through the project.  Or their boss could choose to change direction.  Or their Board of Directors can decide to call it quits.  This is not about trust at all; it’s pure common sense.

When a client hands over their deposit, I know they are serious.  They are committed.  And that gives me the green light to move forward.

(And, I must add, your best clients will not ever have a problem paying a deposit.  We just got a commission from Google, yes, mighty and powerful Google, and they did not have a problem with our deposit requirement.)

But this doesn’t just work for clients; it works on myself, too.

ON LEARNING:  Commitment is what separates the serious from the not-so-serious.

It breaks out the losers from the winners, the criers from the happy.  Commitment is what will lead you to the end result you seek.

When you pay for a class that you plan to take, you have made a commitment to the goal of learning something new. 

A strange thing happens when we put money down on a class; we begin learning immediately, even before the program begins.  We start noticing others who know what we seek to learn.  We begin reading up on it, in advance.  We are committed.

A couple years ago I signed up for a one week meditation-writer’s retreat with bestselling author Susan Piver.  When I paid for my plane ticket to Denver and a week at the Shambala Mountain Center, I had already begun my lesson.

The money was my commitment to learning to be a better writer and to meditate more deeply.  Before I even left for the retreat center, I was learning.  I had committed with my money, which translated to a commitment in my mind.


How committed are we to our goals?  The money we spend is one barometer of how serious we are.

Some people tell me that they are committed to learning about art licensing, but yet they aren’t willing to put the money into taking LIMA’s one-year course in licensing.

Some say they are committed to propelling their career forward, yet they aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is. 

There are resources out there that can save you years of work, if only you commit.  The recent smARTist Telesummit is an excellent example of serious, committed artists who had no problem paying $500 for a two-week course to learn from the top art experts in the country.  Many say that the value they gained from that course was priceless.

Committed people aren’t afraid to spend money on consultants and coaches and good attorneys.

It wasn’t that long ago that I decided to start consulting artists on the side.  I didn’t know what to expect; I wondered who would be willing to pay me $150 an hour for my expertise.

After about my twentieth consulting client, it dawned on me that every single artist that I worked with was highly intelligent, open-minded to advice and applied it.  Things always worked out for them.  Most were already very successful.  I was surprised, because I know so many people that are the opposite.  It was refreshing.

Then I realized:  Underachievers don’t hire consultants.  Winners do.

Underachievers can’t commit.  Or they refuse to.  Or they claim that they can’t afford to take a class or course or hire someone to help.

Being unwilling to spend money to further your career or to learn something new or to solve a problem will keep you right where you are.  You can’t grow from a lack of commitment.

But those of us who are willing to put our money where our mouth is, we show our commitment, and the results show up.

What have you committed to recently that was a big step for you? Or is there something you are considering to commit to?  Please share in the comments!  I’d love to hear your say on this topic.

Maria xxoo


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23 Comments Money is a Commitment

  1. linda

    A great post and it’s so true… it took me a long time to realize what it really means to spend money on certain things… Of course, it takes more than just money. How many gym memberships are bought by those who never use them, right?

    1. Maria Brophy

      Linda, that’s so true about the gym membership! But, I suppose the more money you put down, the more committed you are. Thanks for the comment on this!

  2. carolyn Morton

    Brilliant post as usual! I too never start a project without 50% up front and have never had anyone object to paying it. I make it clear right at the outset. You have to speculate to accumulate and my two recent money where my mouth is events have been: Some good quality brochures for an exhibition in December, resulting in two after the event sales and paying up front for a trade stand in March at an event where I have supplied the trophies. I am committed to making it work for me! Thanks for you inspirational blog!

    1. Maria Brophy

      Carolyn, I checked out your website and WOW your work is just amazing. My husband and I have committed to increasing our licensing revenues this year, and that means that we also have to exhibit at License (an expensive event) and print brochures and put a lot of money into marketing for it. But we are focused on this, and so we have to spend the money to make the money.

      Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with this!

      1. carolyn morton

        Thanks ever so Maria! And thanks once again for your blog. It’s the ONLY what I would call ‘motivational’ thing I subscribe to and so brilliantly practical and sensible. Like a lot of your subscribers, I really hate the money aspect but if we want to make a living in this wonderfully creative way, we have to face up to the fact that we have to bring it in!

        Very best of luck at License. I look forward to you sharing some words of wisdom about your experience and of course success there in a future blog!

  3. Daniel Edlen

    That’s a neat way of thinking about money! After doing a high school project on the ends justify the means and a college course on Marxism I developed a healthy dislike of money for its own sake. “Art for art’s sake. Money for God’s sake.” 10cc. It is sort of like a transferable contract with the future, but human creativity has to imbue it with value as it is only a means, not the end of time.

    1. Maria Brophy

      Daniel, Thanks for this! The dislike of money being at the center of everything we do in our society is another topic entirely. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t use currency, but instead we all did what we loved and contributed to each other?

      But, that’s not going to happen in our lifetime. Money is the currency of everything – our own survival (food, shelter, healthcare). So, we have to work with it if we are going to live here.

      My son claims he’s going to start his own civilization when he grows up where there’s no money, just sharing and love. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

  4. Archan Mehta


    What an interesting post: a fabulous read, to be sure. As usual.

    As a child, I faced health and behavioural problems. Yoga–of which meditation is just a tiny speck–would have helped, but nobody ever taught me. I was raised in an environment where such things were considered too exotic. Hocus pocus and mumbo jumbo, to be sure.

    Challenging this blind faith, I decided to read up on yoga and discovered the tranquilizer called meditation. It has been a true companion since, and I have committed to the daily practice.

    It has been a difficult journey. I have a love-hate relationship with meditation. It did not work for me. I made all sorts of excuses. I analyzed it to death: ten reasons why meditation is equal to blind faith and why it won’t work for me. But once I was determined, it was great.

    You must commit to meditation daily. It should be a daily practice. This is what has helped me. This is what I drummed into my head. Not just read about it, but the actual practice has been life-changing.
    I am a better person for demonstrating a bias for action. Talking and reading helps, but it has to be backed by action. Seize the moment.


    1. Maria Brophy


      Thanks so much for this. I’d love to hear more about your meditation practice, such as what method you’ve found that works best for you.

      I practice it daily M-F, weekends tend to be more difficult to commit to because my family is around and it’s hard to meditate in a small house with a kid running around!

      It’s made a very positive change in my life since I started in 2007.

  5. Sari Grove I committed to the Artist.Conspiracy last year…Run by ArtBizCoach Alyson Stanfield…It is about $27 dollars a month, which means that I could theoretically stay a member forever, using the resources & help when I need it most, & not feeing pressured to use it if I am feeling lazy…It has provided me with an invisible safety net, a sounding board & a sense of community as well as support for a major move from 2D into 3D work…

    1. Maria Brophy

      Sari, committing to $27/month to be part of an artist group is indeed a commitment. I commend you for that. Alyson’s Artist Conspiracy Group is for the truly committed – and that fee will sort out the serious from the not-so-seriou!

      It’s inspiring to see such a commitment to your career!

  6. Dylan

    I’ve been reading your articles for a while now and they’re always very inspiring. This one put something I had always known into really clear words. It’s so true! I’ve been that person, having great ideas with no execution, no commitment. I recently registered to go back to school. I tried but got denied financial aid. That bummed me out and I had all but given up the idea when I realized the courses I wanted to take were available as short-term certificate courses. So I decided I would start anyway and pay out of pocket to get a job in the field and get a degree soon after.

    There’s always a path to your goal, you just have to be willing to make the necessary adjustments

    1. Maria Brophy

      Dylan, I’m happy to hear your thoughts on this. It’s great that you sucked it up and invested in your own learning even though it’s coming out of your pocket. There’s a reason that college students that have to pay their own way are more committed than those that have parents to pay for it.

  7. kara rane

    hi Maria~
    I try my best to be committed to higher ideals and find that this can be expressed through currencies of kindness, grace, love and money*!
    This is such an exciting time because we have the power to choose what we believe in, each of us individually can contribute to a greater whole.
    When we make this commitment with money (valuing ourselves and others) Life changes. Support the goodness. If you feel that our world should be full of art ( or organic food, clean air, & happy people,etc) then spend your money (time, energy, thoughts) on only that which contributes to these values. One by one ($,☆,♡) we can change the world.

    1. Maria Brophy

      Kara, that’s funny you brought up organic food. Some time ago my husband and I committed to our health and determined that we are only eating organic at home. Yes, it’s increased our food bill by quite a bit, but it’s also made us feel a lot healthier. You can’t put a price on good health!

  8. Archan Mehta


    Thanks for asking. You are welcome, as usual. Yes, the key is to commit to the daily practice of meditation; it should become a habit.

    Personally, I like that word: commit: there is a sense of discipline here. Thus, your post is right on the money. Discipline is what separates the wheat from the chaff, to be sure. Glad you mentioned it.

    There are several tips and techniques when it comes to meditation.( I have taught meditation too, by the way.) What works for me, however, is simple meditation. I believe there is great beauty in simplicity. It is an elegant technique. Please allow me to share it with you.

    Choose any mantra–say, AUM. It is a spiritual word. It is a focus word.
    Sit down in a comfortable room with the lights out. Sit in a manner that makes you feel comfortable, but not so comfortable that you go to sleep. Chant your mantra, either out loud or inside your mind.

    In my case, the silent chanting works better. Silently, keep on repeating that mantra. It will cease the chatter in your mind. If distracting thoughts should enter your mind, no problem, once again re-focus on your mantra and keep on chanting it. If thoughts enter your mind, once again, treat these thoughts as unwelcome guests without fighting them.

    Our mind is like a wild elephant rampaging through the forest or jungle, so distracting thoughts will enter and exit constantly, but the trick is to, once again, re-focus on your mantra each and every time.

    Practice this technique from five minutes to one hour daily. One hour works for me, because it instils a sense of discipline. And I like discipline in my life. However, please keep in mind: what works for me may not work for you. So you have to find what works for you.

    Meditation has been such a boon and blessing in my life. I can’t tell you how much it has helped me: I feel whole again. Cheerio.

  9. Rachael

    I laughed when I read your post because I was reading it to take a break from looking at Amazon. I’ve researched and debated about buying some raw food books as I try to commit to being healthier. I was thinking the exact thing that you just wrote about. Nothing has worked for me lately, maybe it’s time for me to invest some money into my health and books about eating well seem to be the most feasible. Still, I balked at the price and the practicality of it and then I found myself here. I guess I’m pulling out the credit card. “Practical” or not, I need to commit to change.

  10. Archan Mehta


    Another thing: make sure you wear casual, comfortable and loose-fitting clothes when you sit down to meditate. Preferably, take a nice, warm shower and brush your teeth and drink one glass of water before you start the practice. This always helps me to prepare, because I feel neat and clean. It is important to feel good about it.

    Please make sure nobody is around and switch off all toys and gadgets and other electronic goods or devices. No distractions. That’s why it’s important to meditate when everybody else is asleep. I find that the hours from 2 AM to 6AM are the “golden hours” for meditation. This is considered an auspicious time for meditation too.

    It is important to feel free to distractions, so you can practice meditation with single-minded devotion. If there is too much turbulence at home, you can move to a spiritual retreat. There is a beach close to your home or you can sit under a tree in a part, outdoors. The important thing is to find what works for you. I hope this helps you and your readers too. Have a nice day. Cheers.

  11. Justin Mazza

    Hi Maria,
    This is a great way to look at commitment and money. It’s true especially in the blogosphere. Many people are just looking for free resources without putting any money/commitment to it and as a result they seldom get what they are looking for.

    When I do product reviews the person paying me has proven that they are committed to their products and are willing to spend money to do it.

    Take care…

  12. Pingback: Creative Business 101 – Money Money Money | - the creative journal of Artist Linda Tieu

  13. jerise

    this is very true–i’d love to hear more about just “simply” setting up your studio, and committing to make it work effectively, actually. i know there are more glamorous issues out there, and more directly money-related possibly, but that is where i have been falling down, and i’d love some advice on where to start.

    1. linda

      Hi Jerise,
      Were you talking about an simply artist’s studio?
      If so, I would like to share some thoughts. I have had a tiny studio living space, with a space heater and having to fold my bed up so I could have a place to sit & draw; to a building with my studio that I had to drive to.
      My studio is my heart, along with my cats who now are gone.
      Simple is good
      1 Find a place that feels good to you, that is around you, fits like warm happy favorite slipper as my cats would say.
      2 Pick something you love & put it in your studio space. As time goes on you can add.
      3 Go to it, be present there. Even if you can’t work, or have a block. Be patient and think of all beauty, the things that you are grateful for.
      Maybe that might help with the start.

  14. linda

    Hi Maria,
    Thank you for comment and thoughts. Someone sent me your information today, so it is a quite a bit later than your original posts…but wise & thoughtful word has no expiration date.


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