The Real Reason We Tear Down Creative Sell Outs

The Real Reason We Tear Down Creative Sell Outs
Carly Jacobs

We’ve all seen it, people turning on others because they’ve “sold their soul to the devil”. Bloggers bad-mouthing other bloggers over Twitter for accepting sponsored posts or being involved with brands in some way. Fans turning on indie bands when they secure a record deal and “go mainstream”. The masses rolling their eyes when an actor promotes the latest sports drink/fancy watch/perfume. We’d like to think that we’d never sell out, that if we were in the same position we’d hold onto our integrity and say no. The truth is, we probably wouldn’t.

It’s extremely hard to earn an income in the creative arts. I know dozens of talented actors, musicians and writers that are climbing the corporate ladder with a heavy heart because the bills simply need to be paid. The idea of the struggling artist seems romantic to those who haven’t experienced it firsthand. Knowing that someone loves their craft so much that they’re willing to eat 2 minute noodles and sleep on a mattress on the floor to really immerse themselves in it. It’s not romantic. It’s damn hard work.

I have a girlfriend who is a wonderful actress. She consistently gets rave reviews for her roles on stage and occasionally lands appearances on television shows and ads. She had seven casual jobs at one stage and was barely scraping through. She eventually moved back in with her parents to lighten the load. Crazy huh?

We are comfortable with those that are relatively unsuccessful in the arts because it makes us feel better about choosing a “responsible career” over our passion or (if we’re aiming for that artistic goal) relieved because we’re in the same leaky boat. But as soon as we see someone living our dream and earning a substantial income from it, our inner nasty bitch takes over.“She must have slept her way into that contract”.  “They’ve sacrificed their music for the fame”.“His writing is no longer authentic because he’s getting paid to give his opinion on that product.”

If someone has consistently been delivering amazing content or producing impressive art (in any form), why do we throw them to the wolves as soon as they’re rewarded for it? There is a limit to how much work someone should have to do for free in order to establish themselves, then they bloody well deserve some recognition! 

We often find it hard to acknowledge the long hours and determination that goes on behind the scenes before someone becomes a success story because we’d rather act as though it were dumb luck or that the person did something immoral to get there. This allows us to justify our own lack of success to ourselves – it was really just luck, so I probably wouldn’t have received that opportunity no matter how hard I tried. The jealousy and venom associated with Tall Poppy Syndrome comes from our own regrets.

Instead of firing harsh comments via social media or behind people’s backs about how they’ve lost their credibility, why not see their success as an inspiration? There is enough success for everyone. They haven’t stolen possible income from you or stopped you from being able to get your foot in the door. Instead they’ve shown you that it’s achievable. Learn from them. Study their game plan.They’re not the reason you didn’t follow your dream or put in the hard yards – you are. So go do something about it!

Kimberley is a regular contributor at Smaggle, writing about productivity and positivity. You can visit her blog Dream. Delight. Inspire. here and follow her on twitter here.


  1. Chantelle Ellem 8 years ago

    Cue standing ovation. 

    • Mrs Woog 8 years ago

      Standing behind your standing ovation! xx

      • Kimberley 8 years ago

        Thanks ladies, I’m touched (and flattered that such fabulous bloggers would applaud for this post)! x

        • Author
          Smaggle 8 years ago

          It’s a fabulous post and one that I’ll trot back out regularly!

  2. Myodesign 8 years ago

    Boo ya ka sha! What a brilliant insight. I know I’ve been guilty of envy, but standing tall in who you are and being proud of your efforts makes it a billion times clearer to appreciate and encourage all the awesome talented people around you. high 5 Kimberley!

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      It’s so true. Because I think there’s always someone who’s envious of your achievements too!

  3. Annadeng 8 years ago

    Great post – but I’ll take it a step further and say that people understand deep down that there isn’t enough success to go around and that what pisses them off so much. Not everyone will be successful – a hard fact that’s hard to swallow.

    There is only a finite amount of wealth in society and it means – unfortunately  – that not everyone can be a financial success. The idea that we all have equal chance of financial success is a lie that we need to unpick – like the definition  of success itself.

    • Kimberley 8 years ago

      Hi Annadeng, thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that there is only a finite amount of wealth in society but “financial success” has different meanings to different people. For example, someone’s idea of financial success might be earning $30,000 a year from their creative pursuits. Not everyone has the desire to earn millions.

      I do believe that anyone can achieve a degree of success (we’ve seen countless rags to riches stories over the years) and that it’s their mindset of “I can’t do it, not everyone can BE something” that holds so many back. Those that throw risk to the wind and go hell for leather at their dreams are the ones that make it and the ones who have definitely earned it.

      Thanks again for your comment, it’s always really interesting to get feedback and food for thought – I appreciate it!

      • Author
        Smaggle 8 years ago

        Too true, success is relative.

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      True but there’s no reason why you (or I!) can’t be in the successful minority!

  4. Peggy Saas 8 years ago

    Well said Kimberley. I am in full support of creative colleagues, whichever way they choose to seek out success. Writing and taking photographs is what makes me happy, if I can earn enough to feed my family and keep a roof over our head by doing just that I will be one happy artist. And if that means I need to plug a product or accept sponsorship down the track then so be it.

    Live and let live I say. 

  5. Sarah Rooftops 8 years ago

    Awesome post! And spot on! I’d always been told this was a very British thing to do, but it seems more universal to me – and why shouldn’t we applaud when somebody succeeds?

    • Author
      Smaggle 8 years ago

      It’s extremely Australian too. Giving a shit about anything isn’t really tolerated here. 🙂

  6. Cecylia 8 years ago

    Love this! You’ve taken my thoughts and organised it into a sensible pattern that is a delight to read. THANK YOU for this wonderful post! It’s SOOO true!!! Most people I know who are successful have put in YONKS of hard work, but of course they’re not going to show off the not-so-glamorous side of it!

  7. Katherine 8 years ago

    Love this and completely agree!! I can never understand why people can’t be happy for the success of others and, instead, feel the need to try and destroy it. Great post, lovely!

  8. Anonymous 8 years ago

    this is so true and utterly awesome Kim. Love it!!!

  9. kylaroma 8 years ago

    So, so, so fabulous and true. Someone else’s success takes nothing away from you!

    It can be hard not to internalize what happens around you, but it’s worth the work- especially if you spend any amount of time online.


  1. […] wrote a post over on Smaggle about The Real Reason People Tear Down Creative Sell-Outs and I got some amazing tweets and comments about it. I wanted to take this concept a little further […]

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