Category: Artist

The Heart Series | By Tola Makanjuola | 07/10/21 – 20/10/21

By Tola Makanjuola

The Entrepreneur and the Artist

The Importance of being Well Rounded

Do you choose to be a starving artist? Or is it a condition that befalls those who are inherently driven to create to the point of self detriment? In other words, do you choose to ‘starve’ or does ‘starving’ choose you?

It’s a valid and perplexing query, one worth unpacking with due diligence. Clarity on this issue would perhaps help to cultivate a healthy culture and mindset around creatives and monetising their endeavours.

Most of us would have heard of the denigration, “sell out”, an expression that describes the compromise of one’s integrity or betrayal to an allegiance. No where is this expression more commonly slung than in the realms of artistic endeavour. Why is that? Well, art is seen as a pure expression of self (whatever that means), and therefore, an artist who once immersed himself in the warm waters of artistic moral alignment, now pursuing financial profit ahead of critical acclaim, is seen to be driven by other motivating factors aside from the excellence of his/her art form, and is in effect, deemed a sell-out.

Name calling is unseemly, but there is an element of truth to this assumption which is almost trite. The pursuit of material gain, placed before the value that can derived from an endeavour not only diminishes the overall quality of the work, but does amount to much personal fulfilment.

So that’s the element of truth. Like most human enterprise, physical or otherwise, corruption sips in, insidiously. Being financial successful as an artist of any ilk, seems to almost inevitably come with label of industry sell-out, but not always for the reasons of compromise of artistic integrity, but more for a perceived betrayal to the notion of shunning success for the ‘sake of art’. This is destructive thinking, and while many are wise enough to question the credibility of this thought and it’s motivations, there are many, for reasons varied, who champion this perspective.

The question still remains. Do you choose ‘starvation’, or does ‘starvation’ choose you?

Proclaiming that there those who choose to ‘live for their art alone’, would not add much merit to this writing. That’s obvious, and good luck to them. One can infer some of the reasoning behind their choices, and while not all are invalid, one motive could certainly driven by pious commitment to ‘artistic integrity’. However, if we suggest that there are those who are chosen to ‘starve’, there-in lies a more engaging issue.

What distinguishes a liberal thinker from a conservative thinker ? Liberals are ideas people, high in creativity and openness, low in conscientiousness. Conservatives are not very creative, low on openness, but high in conscientiousness. Therefore, it can be certainly be argued that a highly creative person, is probably more likely to struggle in creating and enforcing a disciplined structure around his/her endeavours compared to a person driven to adhere by rules. But this bellies a critical point.

Great writers, artists, actors, poets reflect as much dedication and discipline to their craft, as do the best regulators, managers, corporate leaders and politicians. And while they may operate in fields that prioritise different traits, (creativity vs organisation ), it would be wrong to suggest that an artist could not develop the skill sets required to at the very least, understand the world of business in which his/her work is being marketed in. In fact, this article determines that an endeavour towards cultivating a well-rounded mindset is the more responsible, and less self indulgent course of action.

As previously stated, great artists like great managers employ discipline. It would seem that while, an artist may be predisposed to a unique mode of being, their ability to learn and master their craft is because of discipline and strength of character in overcoming inevitable adversity along the way. In order to manage your life and creative affairs appropriately, discipline and strength of character are qualities that are equally integral in achieving this aim.

That was a lot of unpack, but here are the essential points. There’s no value in conflating success with corruptible compromise. Of course, compromising on fundamental integrity for material gain will only lead to personal regret. Most importantly, there is a point at which material success and creative success meet. Establishing a place at this point means you are well-rounded, not a sell-out. It equates to being independent, self sustaining (you don’t necessarily need to become wealthy) and fulfilled. No one said it would be easy, but then again, what is?

Tola Makanjuola | Originally Published on No Wasted Ink | 12/11/20

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Poem 03.10.20

by: Tola Makanjuola

Poem 14.08.20

by: Tola Makanjuola

Earning a living as a poet – A Design Thinking Approach

Problem Statement 1. 

Most poets can’t live off their creativity


It’s no secret that creatives struggle to live solely on the work they produce. For writers, or more specifically, poets, this is almost an understatement.  Why is that?

Let’s look a little deeper. In order to provide practical solutions to this conundrum, we would need to ask some meaningful questions and note some key observations.  By doing so, a clear problem statement(s) can derive from this.  

  1. Is there a market for good poetry?
  2. If the answer to 1 is yes? Is there a way to consolidate the market?
  3. Is the market too fragmented to be consolidated?
  4. What is the average age of the poetry demographic?
  5. What is the most popular form of poetry in mass consumption? 
  6. Could poetry be fundamentally obsolete?  
  7. Is poetry intimidating? 
  8. What is the value of a good poem


The poetry genre hit a high of £12m in sales in 2018 according to Nielsen BooksScan, a UK book sales monitor.

Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet, led in sales of almost a £1m.  

Her content is about female empowerment, so it’s safe to assume that she has a large female following.

“Two-thirds of buyers were younger than 34 and 41% were aged 13 to 22, with teenage girls and young women identified as the biggest consumers last year” – Guardian, January 2019

The most popular form of poetry, at least in financial terms, are based on themes of female empowerment and surprisingly, politics. According to the Guardian, Andre Breedt, for Nielsen, said that sales were booming because in times of political upheaval and uncertainty, people turn to poems to make sense of the world: “Poetry is resonating with people who are looking for understanding. It is a really good way to explore complex, difficult emotions and uncertainty.”


Keen observers would note that poetry is prevalent on social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.  It would seem that due to its ease of consumption, as relates to size and condensation of complex ideas, and more importantly, the level of engagement visibly taking place on these platforms, the market for poetry is larger than the £12 million figure would suggest. 

While many struggle to read poetry, and do find it obsolete and tedious, this opinion is not shared by all.  It is clear that poetry serves a purpose in modern society based on the increase in book sales between 2017 -18, by an estimate fo £1.3m – Guardian, January 2019.  

Problem Statements 2

1.Poetry have a large portion of its demographic seemingly not willing to pay.

2. The idea that hordes of people are going to purchase poetry collections is a fundamentally flawed assumption. Poets have to compete with YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and other forms of multimedia.  

3. if, as stated earlier, that poems provide nuanced clarity about a difficult world, it is reasonable to assume that many poets are not providing this through their work, at least, at optimal intellectual, critical and distinct levels of clarity 

4. There hasn’t been enough innovative thinking that proposes a new business model for poetry’s new adapted role in society.

5. Few established publishing firms prioritise poetry printing and distribution.  


The question remains the same: if you write poetry, is it possible to make a living?  There’s an argument that this is achievable.  

  1. Poets need to build an identity that is distinct.
  2. Poets need to write in tangent to key societal issues. 
  3. Will a subscription model work? It’s possible that through the production of high quality content through a website, it is feasible that overtime, a subscription base can be created for the work created.
  4. A website in its own right can lead to advertising prospects. So a website seems like a reasonable investment that should pay dividends overtime.
  5. A broader innovative approach would be for an entrepreneur to build a platform similar to an ‘only fans model’, that allows customers to subscribe to a poet who is creating content they like.
  6. If a poet can build a following, diversification of offerings help to create different streams of revenue. Merchandising is one example.  T-shirts and mugs with quotes. 
  7. The public identifies with people. Poets, as stated in one, need to be creative in the ways in which they present themselves to the world.  


Boldness in creativity and integrity of content wins the day.  It is important not to see poetry like other forms of media but as an old form of communication that has a more nuanced space in today’s world. Understanding that role may lie the key to unlocking a poet’s capacity to live off their creativity. 

Comic 07.08.20

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About Words like the Cold

Hi, this is Tola Makanjuola, and welcome to my website.  ‘Words like the Cold’ can be described as a personal media platform, where I provide book recommendations in overview form, share my poetry writing, comic drawings and promote new episodes of my podcast called Poetry Bores.  You will find additional content from myself and contributing writers and creators.  

I offer Book Cover Design services as well as  Business Model Design services for online business owners looking to optimally monetise their platforms.  

Poem 31.07.20

By Tola Makanjuola
Theme: Overlay by Kaira 
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