Making the Art you really Believe in (a thought for makers)

Do you ever find yourself struggling to create art that truly reflects your vision and beliefs? Whether you’re a painter, sculptor, writer, or musician, it can be a challenge to translate your passion and convictions into your creations. However, it’s essential to stay true to yourself and make art that resonates with your beliefs and values. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of making art that you truly believe in and offer some tips and strategies for creating meaningful and authentic work. Let’s dive in and discover how to unleash your creativity and make the art that speaks to your soul.

Making the Art you really Believe in

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace. Whether you need a domain, website, or online store, make your next move with Squarespace. Last week, I received an email from someone who said they passed one of my videos on to a friend of theirs, and they had to contact me just to let me know that their friend really didn’t get it. No offense taken. I know I’m not for everybody, but then this gentleman went on to ask me, have you ever polled your audience to find out what they really want from you and whether or not you’re serving them well? I found that an odd question because in the asking there hides this assumption that the only reason to make anything is to appeal to the widest possible audience, and so then the trick is to ask people what they want you to make and just serve them up exactly what they expect from you. That will then lead to more eyeballs on your work, potentially more money in your pocket, and by our modern definition, more success. I mean, I get it. I know why we think like that. It’s a great business decision, isn’t it? And if we have that utilitarian motive to our art to get more attention and more money for ourselves, then it does make sense to make work which appeals to the broadest possible audience. But you can see the problem in that straight away, can’t you? If you’re making work to please the crowd, then they’re directing your work, not you.

Following Your Artistic Vision

Let’s say I did decide to poll my audience. I already know what the results would be because I have statistics on these videos. My most viewed videos are things like shooting portraits with one speed light or how to shoot corporate headshots. That’s because the majority of people who are watching photography channels online are beginners looking for tips and techniques and gear recommendations. However, my favorite videos that I’ve made are ones like “The Two Halves of Your Creative Journey” or “Get Small and Tell the Truth.” But those only have a fraction of the views of those more straight-ahead tutorials which more directly serve the need of beginner photographers. I’ve also made and posted a load of little documentaries on other photographers and their process, like the ones I posted recently with Tiffany Rebeer or Ben Burford or Jack Lowe or Gendre Brown. But those videos again get much smaller views than those more practical tutorials. So, if this channel were only a business for me, then the writing is clearly on the wall.

Staying True to Your Work

If I want to reach the most possible people, then I should focus more on making tutorials which give practical tips and techniques and gear recommendations because that will lead me to more eyeballs on my work, maybe more ad revenue in my pocket, and all that yummy stuff. But as counter-intuitive as it’s going to sound to some, I’m actually going to go in the other direction, especially since writing and putting out the meaning in the making I really want to dig in on filming more documentaries with other creative people, asking them about their process, and doing more of these little lo-fi TED talks or whatever they are, where I sit and talk to you about the creative life from my couch. I’m well aware that that decision is going to cost me in some ways, but it’s the work that I’m really proud of and, for better or worse, it’s the work that I want to see more of in the world. It’s meaningful to me and I hope if you’re watching this, it’s meaningful to you as well.

I understand that that makes me a niche, but I would rather be that niche well because I really believe in the work that I’m producing, then try and appeal as broadly as I possibly could just for things like a bigger audience or a bigger payday. There comes a time for all of us as makers of things to decide what our goal really is because if it’s more attention or more money, then you are going to have to play the game, read the trends, and serve up the work that you think is going to appeal to as many people as possible.

If your goal is to communicate things you really believe in or to make the work that you want to see more of in the world because it doesn’t yet exist, then on some level you will have to count the cost. It may not sustain you financially and that brings its own sort of challenges and problems, but I think there’s a higher chance that you’ll be proud of the work that you’re producing because it’s all your vision. Your work may or may not find the audience that you want, either because I think when you choose to make the work that you really believe in, you may also appeal to a smaller group of people, but I think you also attract a different quality of fan. A truer fan who really respects you for your courage.

Quality Over Quantity

I’ll give an example, for a while now, I’ve been obsessed with a young musician named Jacob Collier. His songs don’t get a lot of radio play, and he plays the little theaters rather than stadiums like lots of the big pop acts today. But I have to say that I’ve noticed that I follow his work more closely and with more intentionality than I do a lot of the bigger acts that I also enjoy because I am enamored and so impressed by his singular vision for the music that he makes. Interestingly, if you go to a Jacob Collier gig, you might think to yourself that the audience size is a little smaller than bigger acts out there. But you’ll also look around and notice how many talented musicians in their own right are in the crowd. The people who buy tickets to Jacob Collier’s gigs are people like Jamie Cullum and Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock and Steve Vai and Hans Zimmer and Chris Martin. This isn’t mass-market music made for beginners. It will always appeal to a smaller crowd, those who know enough to know how good it is and how much he’s pushing the boundaries of music.

For all of us, as makers, it’s essential to make work that we believe in, even if it means appealing to a smaller audience. True fans will appreciate your courage and commitment to your art, and you will find a deeper sense of fulfillment in creating the work that truly represents your artistic vision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of making the art you really believe in?

Making art that you truly believe in allows you to express yourself authentically and create work that is meaningful to you. It can also inspire others and make a positive impact on the world.

How can I find the inspiration to make the art I believe in?

Seek out experiences, ideas, and people that inspire you. Take the time to reflect on what truly moves you and use that as fuel for your creative process.

What if my art doesn’t align with popular trends or expectations?

Stay true to your vision and values. Embrace the uniqueness of your art and trust that there is an audience who will connect with and appreciate your work.

How can I overcome self-doubt and imposter syndrome as a maker?

Focus on your passion and purpose. Remind yourself of why you create and the impact you want to make. Surround yourself with supportive and like-minded individuals who can help boost your confidence.

I hope you find useful my article Making the Art you really Believe in (a thought for makers), I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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