Honor Artists Before They Become 'Successful'
What's your favorite kind of art? Films? Comic books? Novels? Paintings? Music? Food? Plays? Fashion? Makeup? Graphic Design? Sculpture? Animation? Improv? Woodwork? Crochet? Crafts? Dance? Anime? Video Games? Street Performance? Choose any and all that apply or comment any art form you love that I missed.
Above are two paintings by Edvard Munch, the second painting clearly being more practiced, specific, and emotionally moving. But the second painting could not exist without the long, arduous phase in which the first painting was made. We often forget/ignore this.
The artists who make the things you LOVE, from the smallest trinket to the biggest Marvel movie, all had to start from a place of being totally unsure of themselves, not having all the resources they wanted, not having a handle on their own fleeting inspirations, and not being experienced. In other words, every artist ever started out 'not very good'.
The phase of honing a craft and putting it out there is the scariest and often LONGEST phase in an artist's career. It is in this phase that an artist needs THE MOST SUPPORT, from family, friends, artistic peers, and fans of art in general.
Progression & style... ...takes... ...Practice.
The (often small) things you can do to support an (often struggling) artist whose work you want to see more of are massively important to their growth in the slow road to success.
Here are some of those small means of support. *You don't have to force them, but just being aware of the options is going to help all the artists who tread along your path.
1. When you like something you find at a craft fair, or a performance you see on the street/in the subway, TELL THE ARTIST. Give applause and 'Good job!'s and 'That was beautiful. Keep going!'s. Focus on the things you LOVE. **Don't give negative feedback on the art unless specifically asked. (This is their time to experiment and find their true style, not pander to every possible taste based on what already exists).
2. If you can afford it, buy the art or the ticket. Give some change to a performer with a hat out. Buy someone's CD or song on iTunes. Buy merch (as long as you actually like it). Remember, independent, emerging artists don't have the luxury of producing their art cheaply and their stuff is often more expensive because it required a great deal of thought, supplies, time, and energy. When you can afford it, pay, and when you can't, respect the price they've set and repeat Step 1 above.
3. SPREAD THE WORD WHEN YOU LIKE SOMETHING. Share on every social media platform and share by word of mouth. Text all the friends you think would like a particular link to art. Texts are more personal and connect more directly with a potential audience. This takes so little time and effort but GOES SUCH A LONG WAY TO HELP AN ARTIST.
4. Show up in person, especially to free events and marketplaces. If you love books/plays, go to readings/talkbacks. If you love live singing, go to cabarets/open mics/places where people regularly perform. If you like spoken word poetry, go see a poetry slam. If you're obsessed with the improvised scenes in your favorite movies, go see an improv show. Skip the Netflix binge just once or twice a month and show up somewhere for an artist or art form you're into.
5. If you have a friend/family member who makes art and is in that phase of becoming a pro and learning the ropes, do all of the above for them AND support them with extra empathy and listening. Learn as much as you can about their (very difficult and exhausting) process to make and market their art and give them your deepest, non judgmental curiosity and respect even if they haven't made anything (yet) that connects with you, or they haven't been featured in anything you read/watch. If you love them, support them in sustainable, healthy ways that encourage them to keep going. They have already decided to embark on the harrowing journey of becoming a professional artist. They don't need reminders from their loved ones about how hard it is. They need to be supported, seen as worthy, and loved at every turn, even when their choices aren't fully understood by societal norms and public standards. They do not need to be told to give up, EVER. Although if they do move on from their art or shift into a new career, they WILL need support with that shift. Consider how you want to be viewed once they achieve even a small amount of critical/commercial success. Do you want to be seen as a nonbeliever or a supporter from the beginning?
The point is, we are most helpful when we believe in artists at every phase of their journey, even if we don't believe we could do what they do.
Please spread the word by sharing this post with a fellow artist, art lover, or family member.