Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting Your Work Out There - Part 1

Today, we wanted to talk about the importance of getting your work out there into the world. This is the first part of a 3-part series we're going to have here on the blog. This is more about overcoming some of the psychological hurdles of showing off your art. Part 2 will cover the reasons (from a business perspective) why you should get your art out there, and Part 3 will deal with some practical ways to do so.

So the biggest hurdle a lot of artist have for not showing off their work is fear. Admittedly, it's scary to show off something as personal as your work. What if they don't say anything? What if they don't like it? What if they hate me because of it? What if they never stop talking to me and throw rotten tomatoes and kick me into the gutter and then hit me with a car because of it?

Sound familiar? Often, our fears suddenly start spiraling out of control when we think about the potential negative consequences of showing people our work. We imagine these worst-case scenarios where we're suddenly thrown out of the village and forced to live off of rocks just because someone wasn't all that into our work. This is not healthy, but totally understandable.

After all, your work is personal. For creatives, it's hard to distinguish between ourselves and our work. If our work gets praised, we feels like we're being praised. If the work gets criticized, we feel like they're criticizing us. What our goal is, however, is to separate the two so that our work is different than ourselves. When someone critiques your work, don't take it personally. If someone tells you that your anatomy is off, then double-check your work - is your anatomy off? Even if it isn't, is the character in a pose that even though it looks that way in real life, might look like the anatomy is off?

While there are the people out there who will offer no helpful criticism and will say stuff like "I just don't like that painting" or "I think that's kinda dumb," those people really are few and far between. Also, they're generally other artists who are a)jealous of either the attention you're getting or the fact that you're showing your work and they aren't, b)are insecure and anything that isn't their work isn't very good, or c)just don't know how to properly give criticism. Either way, they're asshats who you shouldn't even take seriously, because they're jerks to everyone.

That said, you might be thinking "But those people ARE out there!!! Now it's time for me to hide back under my blankey." No! Don't go back in there, no matter how warm and fuzzy it might be!

Seriously, those people make up maybe .02% of all the people that show up to gallery shows, or craft fairs. If people aren't into your stuff (and the truth is, not everyone will be - there are people who don't like Norman Rockwell's stuff,), they usually just won't say anything.

Back to fear. Like we said before, often we let them overwhelm us until we want to crawl under a rock. Really though, what is the worst that could happen? Is the world going to end because they don't like your art? Are your friends going to turn on you and chase you with pitchforks because of your art? A good exercise to start taming your end-of-the-world scenario fears is to write them down. What exactly is really going to happen, at worst, if people don't like my art? Answer that question, and actually write it down. Don't just think about it, put it down on paper.

Maybe if you are submitting pro-Nazi illustrations and are showing in a Jewish Community Center, things might be a bit severe. But otherwise, it's generally not so bad. At worst, you get a bad review in a local paper. So what? Is that really the end of the world, or even the end of your career? We think not. If you're afraid of submitting that book proposal to a publisher, what's the worst thing that could happen? You don't hear back, or you get a rejection letter. If you're afraid of submitting your work to a gallery for review? You don't hear back. Really, is that so crushingly terrible?

Another thing you can do is to start thinking about all the awesome things that could happen. So you might get rejected from that book deal. But what if you actually got it? Say you get rejected by a huge gallery...but what if they asked you to do a solo show? What if you audition for that movie role, and got the lead? Just as important as it is to write down what might go wrong, you should definitely write down what might go right. It'll help to put you in a positive mindset that will help your brain figure out ways to make it happen.

While we both constantly battle with fear and uncertainty, we find that writing your fears down and really being honest and realistic about it will really make them more manageable. Even more importantly, realize that when you're starting out, you have everything to gain, and not much to lose. You could get that solo show, or a lead role. You could get your film produced, or that script bought. So get some paper and a pen, do some quick exercised, and then get out there and show 'em what you've got!

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