I Hate Self Promotion. Bleh!

Show Your Work book cover

I don’t know about you, but for me being an artist is hard enough just to motivate myself to actually sit down and draw something much less promote myself. Don’t get me wrong, the internet has all kinds of great tools and resources for us artist types to market our stuff; in particular social media sites, but let’s face it-it takes time and energy to wade through them all, decide which ones to use and then actually take the time to post regularly to each one.  Time I could be creating instead of marketing.

Thing is, unless you can afford to hire someone to promote you, or you have a spouse/friend/relative who will do it for you, it’s up to you to self-promote.

My wife and I were went away for the weekend last week to unplug ourselves from reality be it only briefly.  While we were away, we did some shopping and visited the local Chapters store.  I came across a book by Austin Kleon (austinkleon.com) called “Show Your Work!”  He is the author of “Steal Like an Artist”, which I have not read, but I plan to.  After thumbing quickly through the pages, I realized the advice he gives in the book would be of great value to me in promoting myself because he breaks it down into 10 simple ways to share creativity and to get discovered.

He talks about attracting others who share your interests by simply showing your work.  He talks about being part of a “scenius”, an ecology of talent (a whole scene of people who are supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas and contributing ideas).  A scenius acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, but is the result of a collaboration of a mind connected to other minds.

The ideas you share, the quality of connections you make and the conversations you start, or what you contribute to the scenius, will determine your value to it.  If we can nurture and contribute to a scenius we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of those we want to accept us.  We can start asking what we can do for others as opposed to what others can do for us.

Kleon points out that the Internet is basically just a bunch of sceniuses connected together (i.e.), blogs, social media sites, email groups, discussion boards, forums-virtual places where people go to to hang out and talk about things they share common interests in and everyone from the amateur to the expert can contribute something.  By the way, we are all “amateurs”, Kleon reminds us. An amateur is an enthusiast who pursues his/her work in the spirit of love (in French, the word literally means “lover”).

“The amateur”, Kleon goes on to say, “often has the advantage over the professional because they have less to lose, can take chances, experiment, follow their whims and in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, make new discoveries.”

“In the beginners mind, there are many possibilities,” said Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki. “in the expert’s mind, there are few.”  Charlie Chaplin said, “That’s all any of us are: amateurs.  We don’t live long enough to be anything else.”

Kleon goes on to say,”Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look foolish in public.”  Clay Shirky writes in his book Cognitive Surplus, “The stupidest possible creative act is still a creative act. On the spectrum of creative work, the difference between the mediocre and the good is vast. Mediocrity is, however, still on the spectrum; you can move from mediocre to good in increments.  The real gap is between doing nothing and doing something.”  Writes Kleon, “Amateurs know that contributing something is better than contributing nothing.”

On that note I will end this entry, knowing that I have contributed something.

I hope you enjoyed it.

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