'Wonderland: A Short Form Doc on Creative Commerce' Asks: Can Art Be a Business?

Making a sustainable and comfortable living from the art that we create -- that seems to be the goal many of us, the light at the end of the tunnel. But is that really possible -- to spend our days doing what we love and being creatively satisfied by it, all the while getting paid? The fine folks over at Eskimo, a multidisciplinary design and production studio, have crafted a documentary that seeks to expound on these questions through interviews with some of today's leading creative professionals. Check out the full documentary below:

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this documentary, at least for me, is the fact that the worlds of commerce and true personal expressive art rarely overlap. For that reason, it's essential to be able to differentiate between the two, because having a notion that corporate projects will sustain and fulfill you on a creative level might lead you into some frustrating circumstances.

And then there's the issue of creative control over client work - an issue that often creates friction in client relations. Here's a quick quote from the film that sums it all up:

But we need to understand that this work is not our own. It belongs to the brand. Ultimately, it has to elevate them first, and us second. And that's hard for artists to do. Artists want things to be for themselves, and they want to own it fully.

Most artists are keen on the idea of control and ownership over the content that they create, and the fact that the corporate interests are the first priority in the creative commerce industry can be problematic. However, the bright side of this equation is that it's entirely a blessing to be able to use the creative skills that you've been honing (whether in film school or elsewhere) in order to generate income. Sure, the client's vision might differ from your own, but it beats working in the service industry, hands down.

With that said, there is hope to be found in 'Wonderland' as well. One of the most constant ideas being perpetuated by these artists is the idea of the passion project - the idea that your day job can fund projects that are creatively sustaining and rejuvenating. Chances are that even if you're doing what you love for work, you're not creating the content that you would if you didn't have bills to pay. This is the reason that passion projects are so important. They have the potential to rekindle the creative flame that pushed you into the creative industry in the first place.

What do you guys think? Are you working in the industry of creative commerce? Can your work be creatively fulfilling even when you have to relinquish control? Do passion projects help sustain and revitalize creativity? Let us know in the comments!


Check-Out: Pro Video, Pro Audio, Lighting – Great Deals on Gear you made need !!

With any & every B&H purchase You will automatically be entered into the Monthly Gift Card Raffle.

Your Comment


A lot of good stuff in there. But dang... @12:25 "If you're doing what you love every day of your life, then things like your personal life and your finances and stuff... that's no longer a priority, or it's no longer the first priority. And I think that leads to a more, like, fulfilled life"

I'm guessing that guy doesn't have a family, or anyone else in his life whom he cares about more than himself? Maybe I'm wrong, but it sounds like he's saying, "just be completely selfish and you'll be happy." Frankly, I couldn't disagree more.

But like I said, all in all there are a lot of good thoughts in there. That one quote just really threw me off.

July 24, 2013 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I completely agree. It seems like it might have been a badly-worded statement that just came off as selfish, though. My theory has always been that doing what you love will not only enrich your sense of personal accomplishment, but also your relationships with the people around you (as a direct result of that personal fulfillment).

July 24, 2013 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom

OMG ... what a bunch of whiners ... sorry but getting well paid to shoot a commercial and then babbling on about the "difficulties" and "creative freedoms" .... oh please, you're doing it for the money ... if your that "talented" go and make an amazing indie film with all the money you have made.

July 25, 2013 at 10:12AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


good call Judith! Whatever your life is become ordinary to you. But if you step back, the things for instance I get paid to do. In the past two months I shot in Haiti, China, New Orleans and Las Vegas. It's quite amazing. And i had all day to do whatever I wanted today.

We are all very lucky.

July 25, 2013 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


This really is a great doc. I and many of my partners constantly face these issues, but the way I see it, it's a part of being a creative professional. The struggle to balance commercial w/ art practically is an art form unto itself.

July 25, 2013 at 10:13AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


The key word is "Priority". The guy didn't say money isn't important, or that everybody in his life is suffering because of his want to happy. This Ferris wheel only goes around once, so what's selfish about making yourself happy?. As a person who has spent most of his life chasing the buck with regret, I now tell my kids, who are getting ready to head out into the world, "Do what you love to do, and you'll find a way to make a living at it." I see too many zombies who are selfish on the flipside, and they put in the unhappy work to make more money, only to have everybody in their life suffer from their lack of time together. If you love doing commercial work, then that's great and you shouldn't feel like a sell-out; I think this doc was made by those and for those who don't enjoy commercial work.

July 30, 2013 at 5:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

Wes Worthing