Don’t Hold Back Your Art

So often I hear of artists who hold back their art because they are afraid no one will like it. Or that it’s simple, stupid or not worth sharing. I can understand that feeling. I get it all the time. There a number of videos I’ve made for clients that I have not blogged about simply because of fear. Fear that people won’t like it, comment on it, or hail it as cinematic artistry. So, I just tuck them away on Vimeoย with the hope that the only people who will ever see it are the clients for whom I made it. Ironically, almost every client I’ve produced a video for has raved about the work I’ve done for them. But then I formulate excuses as to why they liked it. (“Well, of course they like it, it’s about them.”) I can’t accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, more people than I know will like it.

Rick Anwyl at Creative Mornings - Atlanta

The most recent example of a time I felt like this was the short promo I made for Creative Mornings. When I finished it, I was very tentative about it. I just didn’t think it was all that. I was nervous about sharing it. I wanted to go back and re-edit the thing. But frankly, I just didn’t have the time. So I just put it out there. The response was more than I hoped. Tina “Swiss-Miss” Roth Eisenberg (the creator of Creative Mornings) said it brought her to tears. A dozen or more other tweets came in and praised it. As of this writing it has over 6,200 views (I know that’s not Philip Bloom or StillMotion kind of numbers, but it ain’t chopped liver. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )ย Do you know what’s so ironic about my initial feelings regarding this video? It has a sound bite by designer Rick Anwyl of (the presenter the day the video was shot) saying how each of us is unique and special, and that we each have something to give. He goes on to say “Find your voice. Be confident in who you are and what you do.” I guess I need to pay more attention to my own work.

Obvious to You. Amazing to Others.

Last week I came across a series of videos by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers. Derek has a new book out called “Anything You Want” and he had a series of short inspirational videos created by Plainly Simple Studios. This one below brilliantly captures the essence of this feeling we creatives so often get. I implore you to spend the next minute and fifty-four seconds to watch it. Then ask yourself, “Are you holding back something that seems too obvious to share?”

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Hold Back Your Art

  1. I’m pretty critical of my own work…. I almost always look back over a project and see things I wish I would have done differently. But you’re right… the client, if there is one, is always thrilled.

      1. Man, Ron did you ever take it over that whole Citizen Kane thing. Satire is very hard to pull off effectively nowadays. I’ve written things that I thought were brilliantly satirical only to have people ask what happened, and if I was feeling alright.

        Let’s not let humor die people. Keep being silly. Or, to quote the late [ 8-( ] Steve Jobs, “stay hungry, stay foolish.”

        I couldn’t agree more.

        ps: I stop being a perfectionist a few years ago. Why beat yourself to death, when you can accomplish 97% of what you set out for, still amaze the client AND have time leftover for the family. Perfection ain’t worth it.

        1. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. As I commented on my post explaining how and why I use satire, even the most cleverly written satirical pieces by satirical pros get take as “real”. It’s par for the course when writing satire.

  2. Although I agree with the fact that there will always be people out there who probably love my work, I personally wouldn’t post something if I’m not satisfied with it.

    I just want every piece I post to best represent my personal taste. I think this will also allow my future clients to know what inspires me the most and what kind of work I truly enjoy doing.

    1. This is a good point Long. Anything I post is something I feel confident enough to know my client and other potential clients will love it. They are also projects I like myself, I just may not be thrilled to death over them. Or maybe I get into the comparison trap and start feeling like it’s not as good as so and so’s.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this subject since church on Christmas Eve. During the service, our minister shared the video and story of Joshua Bell playing Bach on a Stradivarius, for an hour, in a Washington DC Metro station. Out of more than a thousand people that passed within a few feet, only six people stopped to listen for even a few minutes. People tossed $32 in his violin case. No one applauded when he finished. At church, the message was that few recognized the importance of Christ’s birth. In a secular vein, few recognize great art, or talent, or vision. There IS an audience, but you have to find it, reach out to it. The world will NOT beat a path to your door. Even JK Rowling was turned down by 27 different publishers. In the US, Scholastic was the only publisher willing to take a chance on Harry Potter.

    I envy Creatives lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive families, friends, and co-workers. Most of us are surprisingly solitary in our pursuits.

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