Holy crap epiphany must stop and write this down.
Okay. Megan’s writing about selling, the concept of selling being more useful as a result than an action, and that resonates, but it led right to a light bulb about why I have such trouble with anything around marketing.
So, the purpose of my art is to connect with ideas, right? To communicate. To that end, I want/need to connect with everyone who sees my work, and get more people to see it. This leads also to a visceral rejection of prioritizing selling/marketing/influencing people into giving me money because then I focus only on those potential viewers with disposable income and ignore all the other eyes like they don’t matter. The one in a hundred true fans idea, as much as it may be a working formula, erases and disrespects the other 99 who may still get something out of seeing it that is far more important than any money you could come by.
Now, I concede that living in this world still has the regretful necessity of money to survive and obtain the resources to keep making more art. But I find that any emphasis whatsoever on marketing, selling, business, any of those money-related words, distorts my fundamental purpose in making art by warping my focus towards only some people at the expense of others, and I REFUSE to do that.
Do I have a solution yet? No, not yet. I most likely have things to learn from the guerilla art, street art, media hacking movements, as well as the sacred economics crowd. But I must remember at all costs that the fundamental reason for doing what I do is to communicate, and prioritizing those eyes that may have money is NOT neutral but in fact masssively destructive of that goal.
I know this is right because I feel it from the other side. Whenever I go into a store or gallery to browse and feel ignored by those working there as soon as it is clear I don’t intend to or can’t buy. (Not that I blame the workers, it is intrinsic to the setup.) Whenever I feel less worthy of commenting on a work because I’m not a potential buyer, so why should they listen to me? Whenever I feel the push to magnify my potential as a consumer in order to make myself be heard by a seller or a creator.
I have gotten my share of compliments and comments on my work over the years, and every time the one who talks about how my art connects with them personally sticks with me, motivates me far more than the one who drops cash on the counter and leaves with one of my works. The latter may make it easier for my rational mind to justify continuing on this path, but the former gives me the will to keep going despite the knowledge that the odds of my becoming widely recognized, famous, or rich on this stuff is less than that of being struck by lightning.
This is at the heart of why I have no will to sell. While even those most profit-driven entrepreneurs might point out that it is merely a means to the end, for me it is a means that destroys the very point of the end. If I’m going to privilege some eyes, some voices, some people over others, I might as well be standing on their necks as I try to keep my head above water, and I’d rather drown.
Now, if I can just remember how to post to my blog….