How many ship chandlers do you know?
Better yet — do you even know what a ship chandler is?
(If you guessed it was someone selling retail items for ships in the 1800s, you’re right on the money.)
On that same note — how many grocery store owners do you know?
Maybe one — if you’ve got a locally owned grocery nearby you’re friendly with — but not many.
Well, one of the most famous names in the art world almost didn’t take up art at all. His father — a practical man — wanted him to go into the family business. Selling grocer goods, and ship supplies.
Luckily, Claude Monet’s mother was a singer and encouraged his pursuit of an artistic career.
And the rest, in a very literal turn of phrase, is history. Monet became one of the most famous painters of his time — of all time. In a way, he became the founder of the Impressionist movement.
Which brings up one of the most common tensions in modern lives and careers — should you play it safe or boldly take the unconventional path?
The Road Less Taken
Most people don’t abandon all practical plans to pursue a passion.
Of those who do, few make it. Los Angeles probably has 1,000 failed actors for every working one. Across the industry, there are more like 100,000 actors to every one whose name you know.
Most bands never make it out of basements… Most tech startups never actually start up… Heck, even when you’re talking about something as practical and ubiquitous as a restaurant, something like 60% fail in the first year.
Of course, initial failure is virtually a prerequisite to eventual success.
Here in Baltimore, for instance, most of our most famous and successful restauranteurs started out with famous flops. (And still see some openings lead to closings faster than they’d like.)
Or take Samuel L. Jackson. Despite earning small roles in dozens of plays, films and television series beginning in 1972, he didn’t land his breakout Pulp Fiction role until 1994 — when he was 45.
And Monet faced rejection after rejection from the taste makers of France, never making it into the famous Salon de Paris art shows.
Eventually he started up his own alternate exhibitions with other Impressionists. The name, translated, was Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers.
Success usually doesn’t come easily.
That’s true for all walks of life — not just lofty, dreamy, unconventional ambitions.
But more to the point — this is a false choice. You can be practical and unconventional at the same time.
Not or — But And
There’s no rule that you can only do one thing with your life.
In fact — in today’s world of shattered short attentions and temporary job stints, putting all your eggs in one basket is a great way to wind up with no eggs.
Instead, you should actively be going down many paths…
That can — and almost certainly will — include some sort of stable, professional career.
But having a full-time job doesn’t bar you from renting your car out with Turo.
Or enjoying evenings out eating a nice meal with dessert sponsored by secret shopping jobs.
Or immersing yourself in your favorite hobby, becoming expert enough that you can turn a collection into an investment.
Or even spending all your free time creating. With the eye, hopefully, to selling at some point.
Monet was lucky. Unlike other artists — Van Gogh comes to mind — he realized success during his own lifetime.
And his paintings have only grown in importance and worth since his death. Earlier this year, one of Monet’s Meules (Haystacks) sold for over $110 million. The worth of his 300 most valuable paintings alone easily tops $2 billion.
Now, not everyone will leave behind a multibillion-dollar legacy.
But by opening your own vistas… taking advantage of opportunities when they arise… and being bold enough to follow an unconventional path or two… you definitely will up your chances of leaving a lasting legacy.
And — right after living a happy life — leaving a lasting legacy is what we’re all about.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. Want to entwine your legacy with the great Monet’s? Here’s your chance.
Masterworks has a Monet painting and it will soon be open for investment. You can claim your spot at the head of the line here and own part of a remarkable piece of history — one that’s averaged 10% returns every year.
Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.
Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...