The Vacuum – Artists Putting Themselves Out There
Prologue: What is this all About?
Edit Inclusion, 24 March 2010.
I was thinking about what I had written here, in this post. I’m not changing anything because I feel what I have said is important, in support of the entire Artist and Photographer community. Why?
Here’s why it is important. While it may seem, on the surface, that I’m upset that people did not respond to my personal ‘press release’ about a project I had released to the world, that is not the case.
OF COURSE, getting little notice is disheartening, but I can live with that. I have lived with that, but I go on, and I do the next project, and the next, and the next whether I get noticed or not.
- No, lack of PERSONAL PATS ON THE BACK is not the main issue in this post.
What is important here, is the fact that Artists and Photographers don’t often get notice, through proper feedback and response for their creative works. The ‘personal pats on the back’ is different from getting feedback for creative work that took a lot of time, efforts, energy, and resources. Feedback is ultimately necessary for creatives: Without it, we have no way to gauge if we are doing things in the right direction; if we are growing; and if we are improving.
Creating the work is only Step One in the life of a creative. The next step (Step Two) is the step where creatives release their work out into the world for showing; for seeing; for review; for feedback; for learning and educating themselves. And, believe it or not, for survival: Yes, for survival as a working artist, we need our work to be acknowledged, and we need it to sell. That is why it is so important to be one’s own best self-promoter because no one else in this world is going to do it for you! That is unless you are one of the lucky few, maybe less than 1%, who are represented by art reps, or art galleries, who help the artist and photographer sell their works. If you fall into the 99% ( just guessing on the percentage, but I bet I’m not far off ) who are on your own, as an independent business creative, then you need to be noticed: Acknowledgement is not a want, it is a NEED!
My main point in this blog entry, is not about being pissed off that I didn’t get “Atta boys” for my new publication. No! The Main Point here is that my work was released to the world, and it got absolutely no feedback. It is like my project ended at Step One. No one gave any comments or reviews, or acknowledgements to allow my work to move forward into Step Two.
How can my work move forward without fuel (feedback) to help motivate me to grow?
It will grow: My work will continue. However, a creative’s life, my life as a creative, would be more enriched if I hear back from the people who view my work. And that is why I decided to write this post.
So, when you continue reading the rest of this, and if you didn’t respond to all my efforts to self-promote my important project (important to me), don’t take my words personally. It’s not about you and it’s not about me (in the BIG Picture of things), it is about the lack of notice and response that all too many creatives face in their efforts, which is really detrimental to their efforts to lead a creative-commercial life.
With that said, and if you want to continue to read the “rant” (the original rant) below, then please do so. You may have some epiphany about how you interact with creatives when you see their works, and these works catch your eye, the art lifts your spirits, or the photographs bring wonderful visions to your mind.
I must warn you at the beginning; this is a rant. If you wish not to read a rant, then please check back again, another day, when my mood has calmed, and the winds of discontent are long gone.
Hope in a dead man’s dream,
The sound of a bell
that will never ring,
You’re just wasting time.
Source: Lamb of God, from “Foot to the Throat.”
FOOT TO THE THROAT
This Lamb of God song deals with something much different than what I’m talking about, but these few lines from that song, seem appropriate to my message today.
But first…some back-story.
PART I – ARTISTS PUTTING THEMSELVES OUT THERE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE
Brooks Jensen, a Fine Art Photographer, Publisher of LensWork Magazine and an avid Photo-Info-Podcaster, has said in his podcasts, on numerous occasions, that if you are an artist, then put yourself out there! If you produce work and want to be relevant, then you must release it to the world for others to see, (that’s a rough quote of his original, but the meaning is there).
I listen to Brooks a lot. And, I also take what he says to heart. He has several years more experience than I do in the world of Art Photography, and I am humble enough to know when to be quiet and listen, and learn.
Therefore, I took Brooks’ advice regarding a project I just recently completed and self-published as a Fine Art Photography eBook. I produced it more in style as an eFolio, but in the raw sense of the technology, it is nonetheless, an eBook (note: I use the terms eBook and eFolio interchangeably in this entry, although my project was more in lines with the presentation of an eFolio, but it was published using LULU.Com’s eBook format).
MY PHOTOGRAPHY PUBLICATION
The title of the photography project I just completed is, “SHELLS & SANDSTONE.” This is a collection of 20 Black & White digital images, and the work contains text about the motivations behind these photographs, as well as a couple of pages about the equipment used to create the images. In addition, I threw in the Artist’s Statement to tell about this collection of work and how the collection came about and progressed, including the idea-stage, planning the project, and the end results. My Artist’s Bio comes at the end of the publication, because the key importance of this publication is the work, not my background. This is how I think.
The “SHELLS & SANDSTONE” publication (eFolio) was the end product of close to one-years work. Off and on, I worked on the photographs, the planning, the layout, and the editing for this Art eFolio.
Because Art Photographers also have to live, and make a living, I decided to embrace new technology and produce the project as an electronic product for commercial purposes (as well). I decided on using the Adobe® Digital Editions (ADE) format for delivery and for reading this eBook.
Therefore, when someone purchases my product, they will be prompted to download Adobe® Digital Editions (if they don’t have it), and then the eProduct is downloaded into the ADE Library of “Purchased” works. ADE, I would say, is very safe for the copyright owner of the work, and it is quite convenient for the purchaser of the product. I like this technology!
To Recap so far…I mentioned that I had spent a lot of time, nearly one full year, to plan, to photograph, to edit, to work on layout, and to produce the “SHELLS & SANDSTONE” eFolio.
When my project was completed and finally published at LULU.Com for the world to see and purchase, the date was 11 March 2010, and I felt pretty good with the results.
Thus, that was Part I of the project story: My efforts in working to get the project done and published.
PART II – TOOT YOUR OWN HORN – SELF ADVERTISING!
Being cognizant that I would need to self-advertise, that was my next challenge.
Letting Yourself be Known is what most experts tell us to do, and this is extremely important for artists nowadays because the world is saturated with art and a sea filled with artists/photographers.
A good basic selling idea, involvement and relevancy, of course, are as important as ever, but in the advertising din of today, unless you make yourself noticed and believed, you ain’t got nothin’. ~ From: Leo Burnett ~
There’s very little instruction on selling ourselves with ease and sincerity. Somehow we think if we personalize our message or get too excited, we are not being professional, when in fact this is exactly what makes us effective self-promoters. ~ From: “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” by Peggy Klaus ~
“Tooting your own horn” is not evil! In fact, in today’s world an artist/photographer is likely to NEVER, EVER be seen, or noticed to any financially successful extent unless he or she goes about self-promotion.
You don’t have to be an egomaniac to self-promote, but you do need to be diligent and smart…If you want to be noticed, you need to self-promote, this is especially important for anyone swimming in the huge and crowded sea, known as the Arts’ Sector. ~ From: Me! (aka, Nawfal Nur)
If you’ve done the work, then there is NOTHING wrong with letting people know that you have a product available on such-and-such a topic, for whatchamacallit purposes, and that it may be helpful or just plain aesthetically pleasing to have such a product in their collection/library/possession.
Getting people to listen and to respond to your self-promotion is the challenge!
PART III – THE VACUUM – UNANTICIPATED & UNEXPECTED RESULTS OF SELF-PROMOTION…LIKE VAPOR IN SPACE
The Vacuum – Unanticipated & Unexpected Results of Self-Promotion turn out to be like vapor in space.
If you don’t self-promote, few will know you exist.
If you self-promote, and there’s not one damned response to your self-promotion efforts, then what the hell does that mean?
Is it thus, meaningless dribble?
Are your efforts like lost words sailing forth upon the gusts of high-winds on a churning and bitter sea? Is your self-promotion thus lost to the depths of hell, burning brightly as fodder for the hellish and embittered souls to trample and mock?
Do people who are family, friends and contacts not even want to spend a few seconds to give you an “Atta Boy!” to recognize your work?
I don’t know…
But here’s what happened.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…
On 11 March, after publishing my eFolio to LuLu.Com, I then proceeded to promote my project to the world; to let my family, friends, and contacts around the Internet know that I had just completed a Photography Project THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME!
That is the damned KEY PHRASE here! This project meant a lot to me. Therefore, I just ASSUMED (made an ass of me, I guess), that people on my radar would MAYBE, perhaps, perchance, possibly, want to spend 5-seconds on a note saying: “Nawfal, Good Job!”
That’s the thing: I went to the boundaries of my self-promotion know-how (which may not be all that much, but I did what I could), to let people know that my project was finished and published and ready for sale. However, no one could be bothered.
It is AMAZING to me that on places like FACEBOOK, that a contact or family member can do something STUPID with their Facebook Farm, or kill someone in Mafia Wars or whatever, AND THEY WILL GET SEVERAL COMMENTS OR “LIKES” from other contacts.
I am dumbfounded! I am at a loss!
Sour Grapes? Perhaps.
Was I asking for so much? Did I want everything and the damned kitchen sink too?
I’m not greedy. I’m not an egotist. BUT I WAS NOT EXPECTING A SHUTOUT! That’s like getting sucker punched. Not one comment at all…nobody…nada…zilch…
Nobody acknowledged anything! My words entered the vacuum of space and vaporized.
I have obviously failed Leo Burnett: I have gone unnoticed and to my dismay, disbelieved!
Well, it wasn’t for the lack of trying, I know that for fact. I gave my Nawfal Nur Photography blog an entry for my new project release: It was my March 12, 2010 Blog entry.
I wrote a blog entry at my ‘BEHIND THE LENS’ WordPress blog telling my readers about my new publication.
I have FIVE (5) entries in my news feed at FACEBOOK!!! Not a single mention to any of these entries. BTW: Only one of the entries was from my “what are you doing” blah, blah, blah space, while the others were feeds from Google, WordPress, Twitter, and BlogSpot. My blog and twitter feeds come directly into FaceBook – I just set it up that way.
In addition, I believe I may have mentioned the new project release to a few people via., email, and Delicious.com.
What were the results (again) – Not . One . Damned . Response!
I’m really wondering what the hell is wrong with me?
Am I the strange one thinking that friends and family (and even contacts) may have the thought to give a two word reply to my news (i.e., “Good Job!”, or, “Congrats Nawfal!”). Five words may be asking too much: “I’ll check it out, Nawfal.” I’d be fairly insane to believe that I could get seven words: “Good Job Nawfal! I’ll check it out!”
PART IV – THE AFTERMATH!
“What such sorrow does to the Artist’s soul…” ~ Me ~
The energy it takes to get even a little notice of your artwork, today, sometimes reaches a point of confusion, frustration, and struggle, and takes a real toll on your spirit, and a little bit of wind out of your sails.
But never say never, and always keep up your fight to have your work be noticed, even in the face of great adversity and lost battles.
PART V – POSTLOGUE
I’m not in 5th-Grade expecting praise from friends and family. That’s not my point here. My post (here) is more self-reflective and philosophical in nature….really.
- I’m wondering what I could have done differently in my self-promotion approach.
- I’m wondering if I have been barking up the wrong trees with my networking and self-promotion energies.
- BEFORE THIS, I thought telling contacts, friends and family was one of the best ways to get the word around that I had just produced a project that is important to me. After all, if people on Twitter and Facebook can talk about what they are building on their farms, or all the other distractions available on Facebook, then why not offer up your business, personal, and professional achievements to get feedback.
- *** There are three options that I know of at Facebook for your contacts to respond to what you post: 1) Comments; 2) The ‘Like’ Option. Oh, and 3) There is a “Share” option. Thus, if someone spends another few seconds, they could spread the word about your work, that is, if it were not too much trouble.
- There are no lack of resources available at Facebook to respond to my five News Feed Entries, about my publication: It would take someone two seconds to hit the “I Like” button.
- Perhaps I’m expecting too much?
- Would it have helped if I would have changed the focus of my project slightly. Maybe if I would have focused on “Hot Bikini Babes with Shells & Sandstones”? Do you think I would have gotten comments, feedback, and ‘Atta-boys’ with that subject? I’m guessing, yes! I have plenty of beaches here, maybe that will be the next project then!
- My 17-year old daughter told me that I should stop holding everyone else to my personal standards. She knows me very well: What she means is that, she knows if I notice that a contact, friend or family member has just completed what they considered a major work, that I would spend the time to say “Good Job, Congrats!”, or some such note. This also refers to my standard of responding within 24-hours to email! Perhaps I need to listen to my very wise 17-year old: I’d be so much less stressed out, that is for damned sure!
- One more thing: I’m totally open to the idea that my new publication is no good! Maybe the sight of it is just so totally repulsive that no one wanted to comment, “Like” or “Share It” with anyone else. I am so open to that possibility, but I wouldn’t know that because I didn’t hear a word from anyone at the websites where I self-promoted my project. After all, an artist or photographer MUST have feedback for their work, or how else will they know if they are on the right track, if they are improving, or if they, the creator, is needing to refocus. Perhaps people don’t realize this? Could’a be.
- PLEASE NOTE: My sarcasm, when I’m a wee-little bit pissed off, is very sharp! I did give fair warning at the beginning not to read this if you wish not to read a rant!
BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT!
Perchance, that nobody at all saw my FIVE listings at Facebook regarding my new publication, nor did they notice the two blog entries at WordPress and BlogSpot, nor did they see my Twitter entry, or the entries at Google Buzz. And perhaps nobody noticed that a search at GOOGLE using the words, “shells and sandstone”, comes up with my blog listed #3 on the 1st Page. I can see how easy that would be to miss.
Yes, by chance, no one at all saw any of my efforts to tell the world that I had just completed something that was important to me. My apologies in advance. I have been totally off-track in my thinking and simply have persecution mania, for which I will need to sort out.
What was I thinking? Silly me.
JUST A THOUGHT – A more serious note!
Please, if you peruse the Internet and see art work, or photography work that you like, spend a couple of minutes to let the artist/photographer know that you like their work. IF you think their efforts were worthwhile, or, that their artwork is important, then let them know. You can choose your own words; however, the important point is just to make the effort.
It is difficult enough to live a creative life, to put your energy in work that you believe in and strives to express to an audience your personal and emotional-filled meaning. If the artist does not get feedback, the job of being an artist takes on a new level of difficulty, not just doing the work, but living the creative life becomes more difficult and less fulfilling.
It is like the quote at the beginning of this entry:
Hope in a dead man’s dream,
The sound of a bell
that will never ring
You’re just wasting time.
God knows I don’t want to waste time. Life is too short and time moves silently forward, ready or not.
A FEW SAMPLE PAGES FROM MY PROJECT
If you are interested, the following few photo-samples come from my “SHELLS & SANDSTONE” publication. Oops! I guess this is again, another attempt of unashamed self-promotion and I should probably be prepared for no response; however, I said “never say never” so that is what I’m saying now.
If you lasted all the way through this blog entry, and ended up at this point, then I must “Thank You” for your patience and wherewithal to endure my rambling and much heated rant.