17 February 2019
There are great benefits to living a creative life. You can write in bed. You can have a messy studio where only you know where everything is. Your mind is always teeming with ideas and your heart is full of connections with nature and people. You want to share your work. Going out on a limb here, but I’ve never met an artist who was a boring conversationalist. (Some talked too much, but that’s another story.)
If you make art for a living you set yourself up for a challenge. People have to know what you do. You can’t create in a vacuum. The artist-in-a-garret cliché hasn’t aged well. Waiting around to be discovered is a bad career plan. There is where marketing comes in. Many artists hate even the word marketing. Self-promotion feels wrong to them. They don’t like talking up their work. “My work speaks for itself,” they might say. Well, they’re right. But your work will die alone if you expect it to do all the talking.
There is a subtle cycle to this. The more I talk about what I’m working on the more work I get. If I work on “secret projects” they tend to stay secret. This doesn’t do anyone much good. The work I’ve chosen requires an audience to come alive. Writers need readers. Podcasters need listeners. Teachers need students. Filmmakers need viewers. The alternative is obviously one-sided, shouting into the void, and close to pointless. I used to worry about actors were always acting, even at parties, even at work, until I realized that their craft requires an audience so why not practice it as often as they can? Then I realized that I (and other writers, podcasters, and filmmakers) are in the same performance-driven boat. We need people.
If there are no people around where you are right now you can look for them online. Posting early work online is terrifying, especially for perfectionists. Don’t play it safe. In our age of social media, the safe way to talk about your work is to turn what should be a conversation into a monologue. We go for the humblebrag (“So honored to be chosen to speak on this panel”) instead of the insight. I’d rather an artist show me her or his new painting, architectural design, or clip from a short story on Instagram instead of just another selfie. Art is inward, art is outward, and we need to let it breathe in and breathe out. Put your early work out there and get the feedback. You can even avoid Twitter and Facebook and choose an artist-friendly platform like ello.co.
Start a conversation.
Thanks for reading,
(c) Lee Schneider 2021. Take care of each other. Subscribe.