Artists are a varied lot. They take as many forms and work in as many ways as there are species of insects roaming this planet. And there are a LOT of bugs occupying our world. But for all the differences between us, one thing remains the same.
We all strive to reach an audience.
We hope and dream and work, expecting that what we create will move someone else, will touch their soul, will make them think, will challenge their ideas, will show them something they’ve never seen before. And, if we’re honest, we admit that we dare to dream that our creation will take off and become … famous.
I hesitate to use that word. Famous has multiple connotations and not all of them are positive. I mean, we can be famous like Andy Warhol as opposed to famous like Bonnie and Clyde. Or maybe famous like Will Smith as opposed to famous like the Kardashians. I think most of us would agree that becoming famous as murderous raving lunatics is not really our goal in life.
And, while being famous spreads open the hand to introduce us to a wider audience, it also throws open the door on our private lives.
For some artists that can be devastating. Our private worlds are where we wrap ourselves in a cocoon of solitude and allow ourselves to melt into a puddle of nothingness. We don’t have to maintain a shape or form. There are no expectations. We are safe and warm and protected from the world that seems to poke us and tear at us and overwhelm us everyday.
While hiding away, we regenerate. We calm down. We steady our breath. We relax our bodies and our minds. And then one day we start to bubble again. We gurgle and splash and come out refreshed and ready to tackle the world, to create something new to share.
So just the thought of having our private lives opened in even the smallest of ways makes some of us hesitate to do everything we need to do to reach our audience. It holds us back. It exploits our fears instead of our passions.
Instead of dropping leaflets from a plane over a city, we throw gravel from the back of moving truck.
Gravel will fly.
I’ve seen it fly. I’ve seen it fly into my windshield and leave cracks and chips. I’ve seen it fly in a tornado and smash through the brick wall of a house.
Don’t get me wrong. Gravel has a place – on roads, under concrete slabs, in drainage ditches – just not flying from the back of a moving truck.
Fear is a powerful thing.
But as artists, our passions should be more powerful. While our fear will get the attention of the audience, our passion will speak to them in a voice that only they can hear, drawing them in, soothing their soul, igniting their own passion. And when we’ve done that, …
that’s when we’ve done our job.