Use It Up, Wear It Out: A Lesson In Resourcefulness

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by incredibly driven, hardworking individuals that have taught me the value of entrepreneurship and striving to be the best. All skills are learned, and must be honed with discipline and dedication. One of the most valuable skills I have learned, surprisingly, is the power in being resourceful. Mentally, financially, relationally. 

My husband is a successful touring musician, not only because of his art and ability to draw a crowd, but most importantly, because of this skill. I admire him so greatly for this skill, and for giving me such a great example of what true resourcefulness looks like. Naturally, I sat him down to chat about what it means to be resourceful and share his insight with you. I give you, Sam Riggs...




Let's jump right in. What does it mean to be resourceful?

Resourcefulness has to do with using the resources available to you... sort of a use it up, wear it out, make do or make do without. Or, if you don't have the resources you need, finding a way to get those. Utilizing what you have can often be a struggle, because it can seem like there's not very much at your finger tips. We often times think we need all these things to make art, but that's really not true. 

Would you argue that being resourceful can allow artists to create more creative projects?

Oh yeah. I've stepped in studios where they have every bell and whistle available, and unable to turn out meaningful, heartfelt music. It all starts with the well of the human heart. Stripping it down, like you're saying, can be helpful. 

Resourcefulness is one thing, thoughtfulness is another thing. Utilizing what you have - the things around you and the people around you to the best of your ability. Some of the best songs I ever wrote happened earlier on when I didn't have a lot of resources at my finger tips. I just had my guitar and some time on my hands. It was the grind.

What would you say to an artist that has a check being waived in their face - someone wanting to invest in them - as if that can cure all their ailments?

No one, not matter what, is free. If somebody wants to give you money, they will want something in exchange for that, and it might not be monetary. They might want to say that they made you, or they may want money from you in the end. In every career, there is a foundation. You do your art the best you can, and then it's about getting it out there. The good news is if it's good... it'll be a little easier because people will spread the word. Money can't do that. If you look at every successful artist, when money came into play, things got strange. Things got weird. And difficult. You can ask any successful artist "what is one of the most destructive things in their career" and they'll probably tell you not having to grind for it. When you take away the struggle and the hunger and some of that heartfelt strain, the real meat-and-potatoes, blood, sweat and tears. There's nothing like singing like your life depends on it.


What is an example of when you needed to have that MacGyver mindset?

Well, I don't have enough money to take a lighting designer on the road. I feel like a show is an audio and visual experience. We like to have a high energy show, so I learned how to program my own lights. When we play, the lights go in time with the music. That's basically a $40k/year position that my computer takes care of - and now my show is taken to the next level. I can play acoustic stripped-down as Plain-Jane as I want to, but I also wanted something that was visually and sonically exciting. That required me learning how to do it. No one was going to do it for me. I just got on YouTube, figured it out and went one step at a time.

If you're going to make a living with your art, you have to learn resourcefulness, accounting, managing people, leadership skills, overall entrepreneurship. 

Exactly. You need to come to terms with, and really be okay in a deep place, the fact that no one will ever work as hard as you will work for your own dreams. You cannot get upset when people don't invest themselves as much as you do, because you will always be fighting to the death. It will always be the biggest deal to you than anyone else. Secondly, you have to learn how to settle, how to price things, understanding the dynamics of a business and how it operates. But don't get so caught up in the business that you forget the art. The art is what gets people coming back to you. Read everything you need to know, watch interviews on YouTube of successful people, do what successful people do.

There's that old saying "fake it 'til you make it," or you could just learn from what other people have done. It doesn't take a masters degree to play music, or paint, or do anything artistic. As far as resourcefulness goes, be as vigilant as you can about using what you have at your fingertips. And understand that when it comes down to it, some of the most successful people all started with a napkin in a restaurant and a pen. It all starts in your mind and in your heart. Everything else is just window dressing.