Saturday, January 23, 2016

Life Debt

There are a lot of things that are expected of artists. As I have gone through my journey I have met many amazing people that have been taken advantage of, abused, and kicked while they were down. Sometimes it feels like I have joined the WWE and for my first match I have to get my butt whooped by The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. At the same time I have met many people who feel like the world owes them everything. What do we owe our artists? What do the artists owe us in return? What city is Godzilla going to attack next?


It's easy for us all to think that owed things like more exposure, sales, recognition, but no one owes us anything. Full stop, get off the ride. OK so that isn't the end of all the fuzzy feelings. People are going to like what they like. The public in general might love or despise any piece of art that is put out for consumption. The worst thing is for everyone to completely ignore the art that is put forth. Not knowing what went wrong can make you want to lash out like a spurned Princess Uni-Kitty. You don't want to make her angry!

This isn't a failing of everyone that is ignoring the art. This is a failing of marketing. It's up to you to find your market. Sometimes it can be as frustrating as trying to find Nimo, Waldo, or Carmen Sandiego. Even after finding your market the promotions have to cater to them. If you don't make a compelling argument to advocate for your art, it is easier for others to ignore it. Shouting at your friends that the power of Christ compels them will not win them over to your side. Unconditional love from your friends and family does not include them being your employees tasked with helping you promote. Don't treat them like it is.


The love of money is the root of all evil, or so the saying goes. There are all kinds of predatory entities out there that are preying on artists for their love of money. They want to drain everything from us and pick our bones clean. It is important as an artist that we all demand adequate compensation for our work. This is why I haven't applied to or signed up to blog for any aggregate websites. They offer wider exposure in return for your work, but what you really get is to work for them for free. Their wider exposure includes the audience you bring to their website which is really what they are after. This is one way they make money. They appropriate your audience and your content and give you the hope that the audiences of others who work for them will find you. The problem with this deal is that it is a closed loop that only leads back to your content on their website. That is not a good deal. That is like getting a Whammy in Press Your Luck. You're doing all the work for them and getting very little in return.

This is just one example of how companies try to take advantage of artists. They say that exposure is payment enough, but it isn't. Artists need to be compensated for their work. Period. That isn't to say that you can't guest blog for someone else. I actually prefer that to working for an aggregate site because you are exposed to a new audience and there is just as much incentive for the other blogger to promote the post. You also get a chance to promote what you want within. This is a much better deal. My point being that as artists we need to take a hard look at everything we get into because there is always someone else out there trying to take advantage. I like to arch my eyebrow when I take that hard look at things similar to The Rock. If you smell what I'm cookin'.

Life Debt

To get the exposure, attention, and success that we all deserve, we have to earn it. Every artist must share their brand of awesome. This is what every artist owes the world. We must strive to do our very best in all that we put out there for public consumption. If people like something they will continue to consume it and if they love it they may even tell their friends and family.

Every time someone purchases or peruses your art they are giving you the opportunity to dazzle them. It is up to you to make their eyes glaze over and minds explode. Take advantage of these opportunities by putting the very best product out there that you can. Elicit a reaction that they just have to talk about. Grab their attention and never let go. Rock the Casbah. Coo coo ca choo like the Walrus. Be the cat in an inspirational poster. Make the awesome that only you can make. You owe it to yourself and the world.

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