Talent. Promotion. Success?
It used to be that talent was, “your ticket out of this one-horse town.”
But today, thanks to the Internet and ease of getting your ‘art’ online, we are drowning in a sea of talent. Not a day goes by that I don’t find half a dozen people, who I’ve never heard of, that are far superior to me at things I thought I was really good at. But I only find them because I hunt. I’m constantly looking for inspiring and gifted individuals to brighten my day and music collection. But for every shining beam of brilliance there is a nest of talentless, clichéd, mediocrity. It’s nearly a full time job sifting through then never ending, swirling vortex of myopic mediocrity to pluck out the truly worthwhile pieces.
That being said I started to wonder, “If it’s this much work to really find new and exciting music and art, how hard are the musicians and artist working to stand out from the endless sea of everyone else?”
Does the level of promotion needed to get you out above the heard equal the level of research and hunting needed to find your next favorite artist you never knew about.
Who is the one that needs to do the work? Who’s at fault for the lack of downloads, ticket sales or sales? How far does the artist need promote before it’s out of their hands and into the consumer?
For the first time in my life I can actually ask myself these questions.
Being a stay at home dad, for the past few months, has given me the chance to focus directly on my art and my music and whether or not I even want to pursue either of them…
…I do, and feel my creativity isn’t being sucked out, 40 hours a week to some “paycheck” that is run by people who already know everything but feel the need to still hire people such as myself to construct ways to build a successful company, and then shoot them down because they know better. Yup, its’ all me, baby! I get the glory if I win, I get to work out what went wrong if I fail. It is wonderfully liberating! Although, I do spend the majority of my day with my 2 year old son who is constantly telling me no and isn’t a big fan of learning from mistakes. He keeps me humble.
- The biggest things I’ve realized, in just a few short weeks is, the level of artistic output, no matter how big or small, has to be in front of people all the time. Even sharing something you dig builds a connection with others who: A. agree and like it as well B. never have been introduced to what you like, like it and are grateful for your insight C. the art you share was made by someone, they will be – at some level- flattered you cared enough to share (or have such a huge audience they rely on people like you to spread the word). So keep your presence, web, neighborhood, whatever, out there in front of people. The river of ‘you’ needs to constantly flow. There are a million other rivers out there all flowing into a big ol’ ocean. It’s easy to get for people to walk right over you if you plug up your stream.
- What you do is also as important. Be yourself and create your identity. But if it doesn’t catch on, don’t give up. Sometimes a bit of cream and sugar in coffee helps it go down easier. It also helps cleanse the pallet so you are eventually drinking it black as night! Do what you do but don’t turn a blind eye to maybe doing something that’s more in line with what an audience might like. I’m not saying give up and just become another clichéd lemming. But taking your style and putting it to something that might be mainstream-ish isn’t the worst. Trust me I went from painting pictures of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Kruger and Pinhead at a dinner party to birds. Yup, birds. But it’s my style. I didn’t copy anyone else. I do the birds my way. And you know what? I’ve had more interest and commission work in the last 3 months than I’ve had that many years. It also could be that I’m pumping out 3 birds a week and have them all over the Internet. I’m sure it’s a mix of the two. I still do the occasional monster or ninja turtle as well. And the interest in those has shot up big time. It all goes hand in hand.
- I feel, as an artist, we need to take the, “no ones going to help me but myself”, approach. I also know this is basically another full time job to constantly shove yourself in everyone’s faces so, on a good day, 5% of those people actually take notice and hopefully spread the word.If you think of it as being part of the gig it seems to be much easier. Create something, then take a day and spread it all over, then move on. Don’t focus on the ‘likes’ and comments and all the other mess that comes with promoting on the Internet. Just let it fester and move on to your next project. Keep the creativity moving. You’d rather have a large and ever growing body of work to hang your hat on than one fart in the wind. No matter how much attention it garners. Give the audience something to discover, be it through past works or new work either in progress or finished.
- Lastly have fun! Stop trying to be the next, whatever. If you don’t enjoy what you do you might as well get a 9-5 job. If you enjoy what you do it shows through your work. If you are constantly trying to keep up with the latest trends and bullshit you will constantly be shifting your focus and end up with a huge pike of ‘who cares’. For myself, I want my work to have longevity. I never want my work to be pigeon holed into some trend that happened 10 years ago. Or, on the other hand, the 10 year old trend that popped back up and is now considered kitschy and has hipsters flocking to snatch up every last one….or do I?
Honestly just be ready to be tossed around like a bottle on the waves passing through a tsunami. Ride it out, see where you land and move on. But keep you head up.
It’s going to suck, it’s going to be awesome, and it’s going to be you!