The conflict of writing what you think is commercial versus what you think is true never goes away.
What’s the point of creating something if it’s not something that hasn’t been done before. But at the same time, what’s the point of creating something no one will ever see but you. It’s an artist’s lovely burden to find middle ground. I attempt to take the high road every day in advertising where, as Don Draper the consummate dreamer-maverick-sell-out stated, we solve problems. We can only try to do it beautifully, boldly and commercially.
In his own words for the New York Times, that high road vessel viewed by millions, the recording artist K’Naan exposes his recent dilemma of staying relevant to his growing commercial fan base while honoring his inspiration, the heart breaking struggles of his loved ones in Somalia. In K’Naan on Censoring Himself for Success he shares a proverb we can all perhaps keep in mind as we struggle to find our authentic, yet relatable voices.
‘The fox, they say, once had an elegant walk, for which the other animals loved him. One day, he saw a prophet striding along and decided to improve on what was already beautiful. He set out walking but could not match the prophet’s gait. Worse, he forgot his own. So he was left with the unremarkable way the fox walks today.’