It makes me sad to see that a great number of us are attached to materialistic values. Even as an artist, it’s easy to be afraid to break out of the box and let the creativity blossom fully. I was like this too.
In the beginning of my career I was in the mentality that more followers meant more opportunities and more success. I worked hard to reach what is seen as a “reasonable” number of followers to get access to contracts and new doors. However, they didn’t necessarily come through my followers on social media, but rather they arrived in real-life interactions. The experience made me realise that the number of your followers will not determine your success as an artist. As I know how much time and efforts I spent worrying about what proved to be non-important, I wish to share my experiences so that you can avoid to do the same mistake that I did.
Measure your artist ego (with objectivity)
To evaluate yourself is one of the hardest things to do. It’s essential to be objective with regards to your own actions and reactions in order to get the full perspective. Many are under the assumption that an artist has to have some degree of ego to differentiate him/herself from other artists. However, I think this is not true. Instead I think that this mentality can, in the long run, put you down psychologically and waste your time.
To be able to create great art you must also look around you and be humble to your environment and to others. With a strong ego, your creations will stay within the limits of your own “ego-box”. If you on the other hand open your mind to humbleness, your creativity will bring you outside of the box. In order to know if you are more focused on yourself and your popularity than on the quality of your creations, you must ask yourself the right questions.
There is a problem if you give more importance to your Instagram feed than to work on new creations. Furthermore, if you think that your followers and just a number and you want more and more, you are also having the wrong focus. From experience, I have learnt that it’s crucial to value your current audience and see how you can best reach it as opposed to strive for more. Because truth is, you cannot expect more if you don’t take care of what you already have.
Don’t stick with what’s pretty – strive for experimentation
It’s important to start any artistic project with a clear mind and without expectations. If you try to visualise and build your project in your mind in advance, there is a great chance of disappointment. Expect nothing of your creation, except that you should always do your best to complete every project. With less expectations you will be more open to experimentation and risk-taking, which will bring you closer to your own unique style. My professor always used to say:
“Inspiration from others is good only to a certain degree”
Don’t get lost in gigantic Pinterest boards that will lose your mind in the work of others. Dare to take your own decisions and trials. We easily forget that our brain has stored information every since we were born, which provides us with all the inspiration we need. Thus, rather learn the art trying, failing and trying again to reach more improvements and success.
The love and encouragement of your loved ones are priceless
Everyone wants his/her creations to make the buzz and gain millions of views. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen overnight, bur rather it always starts with your closest. The most important audience that will support you and show you real-life interest in your creations are your loved ones. We want recognition of people we do not even know, while the power of success is to build concrete foundations for your career to work.
The key to success is not to gain recognition from people that we don’t even know. Instead, the power lays in building a stable foundation for your career to stem from. Because a solid local audience will constantly be in contact and interact with you, while your virtual followers can forget you in a second. Quite frankly, if your dream is to be an artist, your professional career depends on the quality of your audience. People online discover and forget people quicker than we realise. But do you remember artists you followed 2 years ago on Facebook or Instagram? 80% would answer no.
It’s part of a natural process to change vision, opinions and envy and the internet offers us the ability to quickly make the shifts. Unless you have had real-life contact with someone in your audience, he/she can more easily unfollow you. Therefore, in our increasingly technological world, it is now more important than ever to keep your roots. To survive as an artist today: Keep your feet on the ground and never give up the good work!