Friends, you often send me letters with questions, and I am happy to answer you. I am incredibly flattered by your trust, and I really want to help with advice or a kind word to each of you. Sometimes letters practically repeat each other, turning into a pattern, and I thought that many of you are most likely tormented by similar questions, but hesitant to ask them.
Therefore, I asked the author for permission to publish this letter and the answer to it directly on the blog. And today, let’s talk to all of you about how the social Internet affects a creative person, how the need for approval weighs on us, and how easy it is to lose ourselves with all this social stroking.
Hello! To begin with, I want to express my gratitude to you for writing your thoughts and little life stories on the blog. Sometimes they contain answers or just support (you feel that you are not alone). I am doing creative work and blogging where I show the process and the result. As soon as the blog began to gain momentum, the number of subscribers and commentators increased, I began to conserve my work. There was a fear of self-expression. As soon as you show a new product, people do not always accept it (significantly fewer responses), since they subscribed to a product with a specific topic, especially if they came from external resources, where they wrote about a specific thing.
The older works had more imagination and freedom, although the handwriting was preserved, and the audience was less biased. Now, due to the dependence on likes and views, monotony has appeared, which brings it closer to some kind of crisis. Is there a way to get rid of this, lower your susceptibility, liberate yourself? Or is it the price of popularity?
How an Artist Doesn’t Become Addicted to Likes?
It seems to me that the modern world has perverted the very nature of creativity, imposing a strange restriction on people who create something: if you have done something, you need to present it to others. Post, and then expect likes and reactions, as if they are the ones who decide everything. And if it is impossible to present, then there seems to be no point in doing it.
This, of course, is not what we chose and decided to do deliberately. It just happens to us, because we all, willy-nilly, are in a certain context and inevitably succumb to the influence of social networks. Especially sensitive creative natures, who are often torn by doubts about the results of their own creative work and who do not always have enough internal criteria to assess what they are doing.
Each of us has a need for approval and love, and social networks help to satisfy it quickly and easily. Especially if you can’t find the source of this love inside or in your close environment. But they are also capable of destroying us, our self-esteem and our awareness of ourselves as a person, valuable in itself.
And, of course, social media sometimes kills the essence of creativity by changing the direction of flow 180 degrees. Instead of pouring out what is inside us, we begin to respond to a request from outside, trying to squeeze out something from ourselves that may not be in us, just to get conditional likes.
Outside the Internet, everything works in much the same way, but it was social networks that simplified and hypertrophied these mechanisms due to the simplicity and impersonality of feedback, due to the distance with the author of the product. We do not perceive social interactions through likes as communication and emotional exchange, we do not think about the person behind the product, we consume only the product itself, and in our consumption, we often involuntarily become categorical and even cruel. And we forget that behind a small square of Instagram there are human sacrifices and tragedies, many years of work, a huge amount of internal and not only work.
The generation of likes is, of course, a generation of great opportunities. Each of us got access to an unlimited resource for growth and development. But at the same time, the generation of likes runs the risk of ruining many talented people in the bud, destroying the self of novice (and not so) creators with their categorical nature.
So, what should an artist do (in the broadest sense of the word?) I think that, firstly, it is worth remembering what is the nature of creativity and why you are doing exactly this, what the process itself gives you and what result you would like to get for ourselves. Creativity is only yours, and only you can appreciate it.
If creativity has become your profession, then it’s time to build clear boundaries. Your profession “artist” is only a part of you as an artist. A specific task – not so much a creative one as a commercial one, clearly formulated and set in front of you – is a certain framework within which you as an artist may not fit entirely. And this is not always necessary! In the profession of “artist” you do not have to open up completely.
A commercial artist is partly a project and a marketing product.
These are the rules of the game that will help you be more successful, work less (or more if you feel like it), cost more, sell off-the-shelf products easily, choose customers, and calmly refuse those you don’t want to work with. It is also a set of skills that, as you improve, add to your value as a product.
Think about mentally separating what is being done as a project and as part of “selling yourself” and pure creativity, which is always for ourselves, which is needed for our development, and just for fun. Separate what is calculated and fits into the marketing strategy from everything else that you also like and want, but can “spoil the image” and do not correspond to a carefully verified picture.
And you don’t need to be ashamed or afraid of this, because it’s not about creating a product across your tastes, beliefs and creative ambitions. To be able to sort out what sells best and “pack” the most requested part of what you know how, in the right packaging is also an important talent, and there is nothing shameful about it! Because there is work, and there is something for yourself. Even if they are all part of the same process.
How an Artist Can Preserve His Identity?
For example, as a blogger, I do not voice all the thoughts and ideas that are important to me. My personal border is where. I don’t publicly do what I don’t believe in. But not everything I believe in; I do in public. And, voicing certain ideas, I am guided by two principles (together or separately):
- The audience needs it.
- I actually think it’s too important to be silent about it.
This does not make the voiced thoughts more important than those that remain for myself or those close to me. And, moreover, without these intimate thoughts, conversations and discussions, the public part would be poorer, because this process of internal work inevitably feeds the tip of the iceberg that is available to the general public.
But if something is really important to me, if I want to make a change in the world with my “product”, even despite the popularity and demand, then I know in advance:
Changes, even the smallest ones, are not easy. They come through resistance, and that’s part of the process. And you do this not for applause, but because you believe in the idea itself.
Of course, there is always a more categorical way: to be 100% open and pour out everything, without filters, without sorting. It would seem that show persistence, be firm and true to yourself, and if you are worth something, then over time people will follow you, the way you are.
But my observations of many artists show that this path ultimately leads all the way there. A person, inspired by demand, quickly sits down on the needle of approval and involuntarily begins to “polish the format”, discovering patterns, succumbing to the desire to make his product as clear as possible for the audience. And in the end, he ends up exactly the same – the fear of stumbling and receiving disapproval.
Perhaps the exception is geniuses. Those live in a separate world and create in a state of absolute freedom, not looking back at what. How many of them were popular and in demand during their lifetime? How many of them were sane?
So, isn’t it better to leave for yourself the territory of this very freedom from the very beginning? Safe territory over which market laws do not control. A place where you are free to create without frames and without prying eyes. Where you can try, make mistakes, be brave, be yourself.
And to experience pure joy from sounds, from textures, from shades, from words, from thoughts, from sensations in your fingertips when you knock on the keyboard, from stiff wrists after hours of shading, joy at the junction of physical and internal sensations, which once called us to take for your tool to create something new.
There is an opinion that an artist should be a bare wire, that he should be defenseless and susceptible to attacks from the outside world, environment, society, other artists and every atom of the Universe. That this is the essence of creativity and that the creative path is a sacrificial path, a path of self-destruction and giving all of oneself in order to convey a certain message to people.
Perhaps it is so, I do not know anything about it. I believe that creativity is a way to look at the world, a way to think, a way to seek answers to your own questions, a way to discover new facets of your soul and your talent. But it is also a great way to support yourself, make money, and live life to the fullest without being pressured or judgmental. At the very least, let there be no more of them than in any other job, and don’t let the professional framework take away the joy and pleasure that you love doing.
Friends, of course, I urge you to share your experience and your views on this situation. And if you want to ask your question, send it to us using contact page, indicating whether your letter can be published on the blog.
Why publish a letter? In this case, I will be able to answer it in more detail and comprehensively, and readers will be able to supplement and enrich my answer, and I think this is priceless! But if you want to receive a personal answer, I will also be glad to receive your letter and hope that I can be of use to you.