Many creative people, myself included, have big dreams. Dreams of our art, whatever that art may be, becoming world renowned. Having a legion of fans that span the globe, eagerly awaiting every new piece of art you create. I know I have this dream and I’m sure I’m not alone.
That is a great dream, but reality is a cruel mistress and we must face reality that that level of superstardom only happens to very small amount of people. Again, great goal to have, but keep your dreams and realities in check. That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news. You do have fans. Sure, maybe not the phalanx of fans that Lady Gaga or Tom Hanks may have, but you do have fans. And, this is important, in your quest to become world renowned, don’t forget those fans that you have now.
We live in a miraculous time where artists have it made when it comes to finding an audience. In the span of an hour a musician can record and release a song into the world and, within a week, be on the same playing field as Lady Gaga (ex. The iTunes Store). A painter can paint a piece of art and have it listed on their Etsy page and possibly sold, before the paint is even dry. A video of a dance routine, a stand-up set, a puppet show can be on the web as it’s happening. We are truly living in the future and it is super easy for artists to find fans of their work.
Does it take time to find these fans? Yes. But if you keep creating and keep putting your work out there, you will find your fans and when you do, you need to keep them. A cliche in movies when someone is on the road to stardom, another character will always say, “Don’t forget us little people.” That’s a good motto for artists, except forget the term ‘little people’ because the people who are your fans NOW are, and will be, the most important people in your career.
The fans you have now, no matter how many, are the ones who will be out there telling their friends about you and your art. They’ll share your art on Facebook or Twitter, they’ll buy copies of their art to give to other people in the hopes of making them fans as well. Do not forget this. Be good to those fans. “Dance with the one that brought ya.’ And your fans now, those are the ones that brought you.
This topic began rattling around in my head recently because I’ve been going though one of my ‘Dark Times.’ A Dark Time is when I let the negative brain just completely take over. I see friends and acquaintances getting breaks while I’m still struggling to get where they are. Often times, to me, it appears they are doing much less work, their idea isn’t as fully formed, and things are happening for them while I’m slaving away to get noticed. But then I have to, metaphorically, slap myself in my face and say, “You are getting noticed, dummy. You do have fans.”
A few months ago I set up a Patreon Page for Saturday Morning Media and since then I have six ‘patrons’ who have pledged a total of $81 a month to me to help me produce shows. These are people, fans, who believe in what I’m doing, so much, they are giving me some of their hard earned cash every month so that I can produce creative projects. I owe these people everything and I am humbled and ashamed at my negative brain when I realize that I should be focusing on producing content for them. Not other people.
So, love the fans you have now. Even if there’s only one. Even if it’s only your mother. Love them, keep creating. Soon you’ll find you’ll have two fans, then three, then six….
Have you heard about the 1,000 fans theory? What are your thoughts on it? Leave them in the comments below. Have a great week!
Today, I’m going to talk about something that doesn’t quite relate to art and creativity, but it does relate to life and I have often come up against this in my creative pursuits. It’s also one of those things that when I lay it out people will say, “Well, yeah. Duh!” but it is something that hit me as an ‘A ha!’ moment several years ago. I’m thinking that by talking about it here it might lead to an ‘A Ha!’ moment for somebody else.
Several years ago I was reading an interview with Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller and the interviewer asked him a question about his friendship with Teller and said they must hang out together a lot. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, obviously, but Penn said something to affect of that he and Teller are friends at work, obviously, but they actually don’t spend a lot of time together outside of work and work related events. They get along great at work but they aren’t the type of friends that hang out all the time.
Around that same time, I heard that the members of the band Barenaked Ladies didn’t hang out together while on tour. Another huge shock. While on the road I thought they’d do most things together.
This was a huge revelation to me. I assumed, perhaps foolishly, that Penn and Teller where together all the time outside their work because their rapport onstage was so great. My ‘A Ha’ moment hit me.
You don’t have to be friends with everybody.
When we’re in school I think that thought is drilled into us that everyone has to be friends and be happy. But you don’t. People will not be comparable with you and you don’t have to be friends with this people. There’s no punishment for not being friends with them. You’re not breaking any laws. In fact, the law says, at least here in America, you are free to not be friends with them.
You do, however, have to get along with them when it comes to work.
This was a hard hurdle for me to overcome, but the revelation that I don’t have to be friends with the people I work made working with them world’s easier. I can be civil, I can be professional and bring my most creative energy to a project, but I don’t have to be friends with them at all.
I often find myself working closely with people who, not only are not my friends, are people I would rather not be around at all. But I just keep in mind the fact that though I have to work with them, I don’t have to be friends with them and it makes things worlds easier.
You may have to be in play together, or write something together, or work together on an advertising campaign…or a puppet show. But you don’t have to be friends with those people the moment you’re off the clock.
Now, I really do try to get along and be friendly with everyone. That does, of course, make the process of working together easier. But, know that getting along and being friends are two different things, makes getting the work done more pleasant for everybody.
How do you deal with having to get along with people who you would not be friends with? Are you someone who can get along with anyone? Let me know in the comments below.
So for today’s creativity post, I wanted to try a little something different. I wanted to issue you a challenge.
I like to think that art brightens people’s lives. Probably the clearest example of this is music. There is nothing like playing that perfect song to lift your mood. Think about how many movie montages use “Walking On Sunshine” By Katrina & The Waves. So many in fact it has become almost cliche. The point is, it’s very hard to listen to that song and not be happy. The song itself illicit an almost instant response in people. Yes, I understand you may not like that song, but it sure shows up in a lot of movies, TV shows and commercials to prove that for most people, it is an instant uplifting tune.
Other types of art can pick you up as well. You favorite book, a great painting or sculpture, a well written joke or short story. Heck, even though they aren’t technically art, I’ll even throw in a really well written meme. A few minutes over at ICanHasCheezeburger.com and you are bound to at least chuckle a little. Even a little chuckle can help you feel better when the stress of everyday life is grinding down on you.
Not only is taking in a piece of art something that can make you feel good, creating a piece of art can make you feel good. Getting lost in some colored pencils and paper, or digital drawing tool on an iPad or other tablet. Or making a goofy little movie with your smartphone or joking down a short, whimsical 100 word story are a great way to blow off some steam and let the world drop away for a few minutes.
So this week, your challenge is to combine these to ‘feel good’ things into one little exercise. This week, I want you to create something. It doesn’t have to be big, not at all. It can be a small origami sculpture. Or a 100 word story. A sketch. A small painting. A short song. Whatever tools you have handy, use them and create something small. Take a few days to get it how you want it, but don’t stress over it. This isn’t the Mona Lisa or Great American Novel we’re shooting for. Just something small and fun.
Once you have your piece of art completed, your assignment is, simply, to give it to someone. Now, you can gift it to them anonymously if you like or you can just walk right up to the person and hand it to them. That’s all up to you. You can also gift the art to anyone you’d like. Your mom, wife, sister or brother. Whomever you choose. Just probably not that ex that has a restraining order on you. And by all means, you can create your art with that person in mind.
The goal with this is to create something that is going to brighten up someone else’s day.
And don’t let your inner critic get the best of you either. You CAN create something small that will brighten up somebody’s day. Trust me, it’s possible.
So, get to work and then report back in the comments below on what your created and what the reaction of the recipient was.
So tell us, what did you create? Who did you give it to? What was their reaction? Inquiring minds want to know!
We’ve talked on here before about Challenging the Naysayers and how Some People Are Not Going To Like What You Create. Today I wanted to talk about another aspect of people who are critical of your work and that is completely ignoring them and how to ignore them. There’s a simple way to do that. Create more.
If you have enough time to be worrying over what people are saying about your art, you have too much free time. You should be creating, not worrying about what other people thing.
Many years ago, another comedy musician wrote a long diatribe about me and my comedy music on a closed mailing list that I was not a part of. I was not supposed to see it, but it made its way to me and I was generally shocked to see such vitriol pointed at me. It berated my talent (or lack thereof), my motives for even creating comedy music and putting out CDs and it was just generally mean. For weeks, I obsessed over it. I obsessed over it and plotted my revenge. At one point I even considered reprinting it, without the name at the bottom as the liner notes in the CD I was working on. Or, tongue in cheek, using select quotes in promo for the new CD.
One day, I had been going on and on about how mad I was about this letter and a friend told me I had to stop. He told me to think of actor Tom Hanks. He said there are people out there who, for whatever reason, hate Tom Hanks. They don’t like him and they say mean things about him. He then asked me if I thought Tom Hanks spent one moment thinking about those people and plotting ways to get them back or if Tom Hanks just went on with his life, acting and creating?
When put into that perspective it really made things clear. I was spending way too much time thinking about this person and what he had said. I needed to let it go and just get back to creating and that is what I did. I never even confronted this person about the things he said, I just went on creating my songs.
I will say, that I bet, occasionally, Tom Hanks probably reads a negative thing about himself and DOES feel bad about it. How can we not feel bad when someone says something negative about us? The key is to feel bad for a moment and then keep on doing what we are doing. We can’t let it drag us down where it feeds the negative brain or we spend all our time plotting the perfect revenge. That is all just time wasted from creating our art.
So, if you have enough time to worry about what the critics are saying, you have too much free time.
Do you dwell on what critics or naysayers say? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below. Have a great week!