The Audience Does Not Exist

Connecting with one’s audience is an issue for every creative. I’m not claiming I just solved this issue for everyone and in all cases ever. But I think I just found something that works for me.

In the last blog entry I deducted that the audience does not exist. Does this mean, my audience is the void? There is nobody? Not in the slightest! I was just caught up imagining „the audience“ I have in mind when doing my work as an abstract, shapeless entity, an unnamed number of people who somehow have the same tastes and needs. That doesn’t make much sense. You can have two people in a room and they couldn’t agree on anything. Maybe I’m still influenced by the book „The world beyond your head“ by Matthew B. Crawford who makes a similar point with „the public“. That one doesn’t exist either, only imaginings of it and wild tries to conform.

Now what do we do with this bit of knowledge? Oh, it opens a lot of doors! So if your abstract dream audience isn’t there yet and likely will not materialize with a vacuum plop sound you have your head free for more important matters. You have people in your life already, real, actual people. Some of them might even take an interest in your work already. If you cater to them, you can only win. You make them happy and get feedback that you have accomplished something and you have an infinitely higher chance that other people might find these works interesting, too, as they come from a place with and aimed at actual people. If you start at literally zero with not a single soul paying attention to your creations you can always find an offline or online community or several of which you can be part of. And every community has characteristics and tastes and needs, problems a creative can solve. Or you can start out by catering to yourself. Be human. No matter what happens, you have to live with your creations closer and longer than anyone else so you better love what you are doing.

I’m going back to an early square of the playing field, but not completely zero. And I’m more excited than ever to create and to get to know the real people around me better. I guess if you get popular (and I never was popular in my life) you are just known by more people than you can actively interact with even if you wanted to. That is it. No abstract audience entity. No numbers crunching. So all is well, nothing is wrong with you for not having „an audience“ yet.

The Expectation Game

What about expectations?

Let’s repeat our game from the previous blog entry with this topic! What is your first big random expectation that comes to your mind? Write it down, I’ll wait! Also as before – no self-censorship. The answer does not have to be pretty. It is even preferrable if it isn’t, because something that is pretty can trick you easier than a rugged looking opponent. Ready? Here goes mine: I want a giant audience to materialize out of nothing, throwing copious amounts of money at me so that I can comfortably do my best work on SPREY and other works and well…and serve the works to them. This is an interesting one. First of all, I’m glad it’s not completely selfish and lost in delusion land. I am not even expecting people to throw their money at me and get nothing in result. I do think though that this particular expectation is a warped view and interpretation of the world that also mixes up cause and effect, like most expectations like these tend to do. This is not how it works. People tend to exchange money for something of value to them that you already have created or that they trust you to be able to create in the future judging from your past works or advertising and persuasion skills. Also it is not that having a giant audience already (or their financial support) is a prerequisite to do great work or be valid as a creator. We only tend to think it is. Also the audience usually materializes AFTER the great work was done and is out in the world, not before. And another wait a moment, „the audience“ , it doesn’t tend to be a neutral blob, an abstract thing, it is rather a group of lovely people who are all real and individuals of different walks of lifes and communities that happen to like your work. So wait, that abstract „audience“ doesn’t even exist. How about your expectation? Does a look at it with reality in mind turn it into dust like a vampire exposed to plain sunlight? Was it a winding, contorted perception and interpretation mistake like mine?

I need a moment to recover from this revelation. It is okay to have expectations of any size. But it’s always worth checking them under the sunlight, with view towards reality. Vampires suck the lifeforce out of you without giving you anything back, so there’s no reason to let them take what they want unchecked.

Creating a marketable body of work (part 3)

Notes on a talk by fine artists and art coaches Meagan and Michael Blessing, interviewed by art director Grant Roberts, 15.01. 2022 on the Art Work House Discord

Their socials:

https://www.meaganabrablessing.com/

https://www.michaelblessingart.com/

https://www.artstation.com/grantroberts

Disclaimer:

These notes are filtered through my perspective and interpretation, what I personally took away as a listener. I do not claim to cover the complete talk. Also, my views are not necessarily the views of the speakers.

(continuation of part 2)

Square Four

You are your art. Questions about being authentic and convenient personas come up.

So, finally, you curate your pieces towards the story you want to share about yourself and why you are doing what you are doing.

A strong and fun to follow story has the power to completely outshine your actual craftsmanship and quality of your art. Make of this what you will.

How do you discover your story? Remember, it is there already, but maybe you haven’t looked at it in a way that you can put in words before. Some questions to get started: Why am I doing this? Where am I from? What shaped me? How do people see my art? What in my art reminds people of me?

Building an audience

Whatever you do, be consistent.

If you can only post once a week on social media, then you can only post once a week on social media, but do it. And mind the language and tags the culture(s) and communities you’re in are using.

Taking breaks is natural though, too, so if you do it, don’t apologize upon your return. Most likely, people will not even notice you were away in the first place.

It also becomes interesting to keep an audience engaged at this point. Note that people must see your art at least seven times before they actually start paying attention. That is a lot of repetition, so you absolutely are allowed to recycle and repeat your older content on social media to get those repetitions in. Also, not everyone sees every new piece of art the first time you posted it, so that is another use to it!

And remember the power of your personal story. Make it easy to learn about your story and fun and engaging to follow it. Your personal artist statement can help with that. Have a long version, but also a really short one of about 25 words for someone who has no time, but a spark of interest.

(to be continued in part 4)