Purity is simplicity

24 Feb

“The greatest things are the simplest things, and simplicity by its very nature is uncontaminated, singular in its structure, pure and unadulterated. Refinement and purification are labors of great love for the artist committed to raw perfection.

This process of pure simplification cannot begin with the work of your hands, for if the heart of the artist is not pure and simple, then the work of their hands (however magnificent) will be largely truthful only in its contradiction. Learning to be simple and remaining in an uncluttered space is a lifelong journey.

It’s so easy to become tired, cynical, angry, greedy or proud, for life throws many arrows and can offer some of us great goblets of gold; and in our confusion, we lose the simplicity of being and the joy of creating.

In the simplest most pure state, the artist cannot be separated from their art, for one is merely a deep reflection of the other. Art is no longer the object, for art is the artist and the artist is the art.”

The above article featured in my daily seven sentence blog. I wish to expound upon it here, as it is I believe central to the core ethos of authentically using the internet to market an artist or piece of art. Traditionally, a marketer would use the term brand building, but the word “brand” brings to my mind connotations of fickleness, being sold something, and a certain polished deceitfulness. It seems, rather ironically that the word “brand” itself has become an oversold and contaminated commodity, that now has a branding issue itself.  Please note that I have no formal training in these areas, I am just throwing around ideas and concepts that make sense to me.

The internet is full of marketers and social networkers… all trying to sell you something and all pretending that they are not. The trouble with the “selling” is that most people are looking to browse rather than to buy, and we rather enjoy browsing without the interruption or pressure a salesperson.

The internet has empowered the consumer, fan or audience member is a very healthy way, they have a lot of choice, a number of places to express their views, a number of ways to disconnect or escape. You can’t grab them and hold on to them anymore (nor should you want to). People are smarter and harder to con now… because they are connected, they have the wisdom of the masses.

So instead of “creating a brand” and instead of “selling something” I’m going to suggest something that is far less generic and far more unique. This is the first crucial point I wish to make on how you may authentically use the internet to “market your art.”Let’s not create a brand (you already have a name) let’s not try and sell a product, let’s simply tell a story.

Let’s tell your story

Let’s not look at your story, just as a retrospective study of who you are and where you come from. That’s about as interesting as looking at a strangers photos or watching their wedding video. It’s just simply not interesting if you don’t know “who the people are.” But it’s not just the knowing that makes a person interesting, it’s also the not knowing who you are. Hence it the journey/discovery into knowing another that makes a person or thing  interesting.

For Example: The strongest fans of an artist or a film are generally the people that “discover” the artist first. These fans have the bragging rights, they liked you before you were successful, before you became popular they chose you, they recognized your talent, they loved your unique voice. In general terms, their love for you is pure (or possibly creepy) because they fell in love you and your art, not your popularity. The sense of discovery is huge, and it gives a fan (lets call them friends from now on) a huge feeling of worth and belonging…

Traditional Selling does not allow for Personal Discovery. It doesn’t make a commodity out of the product, it instead makes a commodity out of both the artist and the friends of the artists. A fan these days can be bought, sold and manipulated any which way but loose. It’s a very dehumanizing system, but fortunately because the system involves humans; people on a search for something more (friendship), it is a system that is dying. Do I hear the people say Hallelujah?

So my second point and certainly the most pure way to market your art is to allow yourself to be discovered, rather than sold. What state you are found in when are discovered by your new friends is also of vital importance, they must discover you in your most authentic state. The music you play, the stories you write, the work you create must accurate reflect who you are. Bullshit leaves a terrible stain. And these people who discover you, they are your friends, and friends deserve loyalty, authenticity and respect. Hence the third important point I wish to convey is that create a loyal fan base you must be authentic.

Remember that instead of marketing, branding or selling you as an artist we are looking at simply telling your story. Yours is not a story that has ever been told, it is a story that is being told; you are the piece of art, you are a melody being written, a piece of clay being sculpted, a canvas being stretched, in essence you are a work in progress… It is bullshit when you pretend otherwise. For example: you have not made it yet, if you have not made it yet. It’s tempting for reasons of ego to inflate your success… but whilst exaggeration may give you a temporary surge in popularity it will always hurt you in the long run. Once bitten twice shy, a friend who has been duped is unlikely to become your friend again.

Secondly you are skipping some very exciting elements in your story, trying to make it,  is very interesting, failing and trying again is awe inspiring to your few loyal friends. Pretending to already be discovered decreases the buy in of the “possible new friend”s who would have liked to discover you themselves. Tell your story authentically and you will gain friends for life, friends who will champion your cause and tell others all about you and your artistic work.

Thirdly and this is huge, the greatest work comes out of this place of story authenticity, your work will resonate with truth, sink deep into your story and let your music, writing or art truly reflect who you are. There is perhaps no greater example of this than “Billy Joel’s Piano Man song,” after his first record failed dismally, Billy  was forced to sing in an executive club lounge in Los Angeles and there, digging deeply into his own feelings of failure and lost dreams he wrote a song that changed his career forever.

What if your life is not that interesting? What if your story does not seem that unique? These are fair questions to ask. If your story is not that interesting then it shouldn’t be told, not the way you are telling it, not the way you are living it anyway. You’re simply not taking enough risks, either with your life or with your art. Am I telling you that you need to take risks? Absolutely, yes I am. Why? Am I encouraging you to be irresponsible? No, I’m not. So the fourth point I am making is simply this… take a risk…be the person you were designed to be.”

Artistic expression is by its very nature risky, it’s an exploration into an authentic truth. It’s never just entertainment, that is something else. Although artistic truth told in an entertaining way is always far more enjoyable than “entertainment for entertainment’s sake” itself.  It resonates more because it’s truthful. To be authentic is to take a big risk and to take a big risk is to be truly authentic.

What is it you truly care about? Who are you really? What would you change about the world around you? What is wrong with you, that thing, that character trait that you truly dislike? What is it you are really looking for? To take a risk is to explore the far flung reaches and depths inside your soul and to create from that place of vulnerability, revealing not hiding the truth about yourself and the world around you.  The story is in you, there is something to fight for, there are  obstacles to be overcome… create from that place. You are no different than your friends (fans), I promise you… it will resonate.

Start with what you know. If you don’t have a story to tell? If that annoys you, if that frustrates you… write that baby, tell that story. If you are afraid of taking risks then write a song that rages against the passivity inside your timid soul. You’re not unusual, you don’t need to be ashamed. Tell your story, find it, explore.

The fifth thing I wish to say on the matter of telling your story is simply this, root your story in something far greater than yourself. This idea maybe surprising to you, please let me explain. Your story actually isn’t that interesting… not if is primarily about you, and your success and you ‘making it as an artist.” It’s a very narrow story, centered around one very lonely and ambitious character. I’m not really interested in that story. What interests me, what really interests me, is what happens to you when you forget yourself, when you pick up a sword and fight someone else’s battle. Suddenly you stop being that” self seeking artistic waif” and you become my hero. There is something ordained, beautiful, pure and simple about a human being living and giving in their most selflessly abandoned state.

When your heart and all your creativity are lent to the poor, the marginalized, the abused, the broken, the condemned, the sick, the lonely and the hurting, suddenly you find yourself in a much greater story, authentically alive, really giving, really singing; doing the things that you were designed to do. That story is irresistible. To be artistic is to be completely yourself, and to be completely yourself is the purest, simplest, most sustainable thing you could ever hope to do.

To summarize these are the five main takeaway points…

  • Tell your Story
  • Be Discovered rather than Sold
  • Be Authentic in all things.
  • Take a risk – be the person you were called to be.
  • Abandon yourself to something greater than yourself.

Feel free to comment or share with friends.

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One Response to “Purity is simplicity”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention Purity is simplicity « Market your Art -- Topsy.com - February 24, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Geoff Talbot, Geoff Talbot. Geoff Talbot said: Purity is simplicity via Market your Art – “The greatest things are the simplest things, and simplicity … http://tinyurl.com/4fshorh […]

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