The Lure of Diminishing Returns

Keith Green points us to this New York Times article on Kwaku Alston:

“‘I just got back to basics,’ said Mr. Alston, 40, who has divided his time between Venice and New York for nearly 10 years now. 'I had been just pumping out commercial images all day long, that when you looked at it, you said, 'There’s something missing here.’ The passion wasn’t there. I didn’t enter this to take pictures of celebrities.  I had a passion for the things I saw when I was walking down the streets.”

If you ignore what you’re naturally best at, the product will either become boring or, if it makes money, a business. It isn’t art anymore and it isn’t much of a life anymore.

This is not a touchy-feely sentiment. Follow your passion into business, without the background of Kwaku Alston, and you may end up homeless.

But, ignore your passion (as a hobby or business) and you’ll continue to see diminishing returns on your creativity until your work is just like anyone else’s. That’s the kiss of death in both art and business.