That’s what getting sponsors is all about. We must be popular to get their support. We are providing the service of visibility. Although visibility takes hard work, it doesn’t give money by itself. Money comes from selling that visibility or any product derived from it. With some luck, the product itself increases visibility, the search for more products and the offers from more sponsors.
All over the Internet the gurus of blogging, vlogging, selling, writing eBooks and such give the same advices. Niching down, like the genres thing, providing services with “how to” articles, and chap-books are a must. It is all business. Forget artistic aspirations and soul fulfillment. You want sponsors? Be entertaining to the vastest possible audience. Follow trends and market rules. “Be smart instead of self-centered” is their motto.
No matter how hard I try, I am doomed to failure. Perhaps the role of agents and editors is to trim artists and sell what’s left. When an artist tries to be his own agent and editor, a routine of self-amputation is imposed upon him, compromising the flow of creativity. The censorship comes from the inside and that is severely violent. I don’t seem to be up to such endeavor.
How is someone supposed to do such a thing? Praising from renowned institutions, critics and celebrities? Flashing excerpts like movie trailers? Ads on matching to the public’s criteria? Gifts and discounts?
What does it take to make someone buy one’s work and services? Where is the trigger to make someone feel the need for the art of a certain author? The call for prestige? The guaranteed fun? The well-tuned melancholy? The signs of great wisdom?
How can an artist be weightless and not imposing? Is stardom a requirement to survive? Is this all about branding and building up communities of fans? All about fame? Showbiz?
Are artists doomed?
It makes seven months today since I started my Etsy shop. This experience made me realize how arts and businesses strongly share a common axis. Their audience. Both activities thrive to get admiration and customers, clients, people who pay at least enough for them to survive. Both arts and businesses rely on the same idea to succeed. Branding. We all recognize a Picasso and a Mercedes.
Most strikingly even is the sharing of mannerisms. Both face the decision between following trends or developing and stand for their unique style, their personality. Target audiences may be either tasteless, normative, daring or sensitive to exquisite aesthetics. Artists and business owners can equally produce commodities or master pieces, and whatever comes in between.
Branding, however, is the key point. Arts and businesses must know how to sell themselves. The distinction between the ideal audience and the real one is crucial. The awareness of the big numbers of popularity and trends is a requisite. Of utmost importance is the notion that the brand makes the product in the same way the suit makes the man. Selling is a masked ball.
This is when another choice comes up. Cynical or sincere branding. To the audience they are indistinguishable on most commodities or art pieces. Ads and articles can lie at will or convey the truth, and no one notices the difference. A good branding campaign makes the audience forget any bad experience from the past. More than a quality statement, a brand captivates us. It makes us wish for whatever it sells to us.
I am trying. Therefore the slogan.
They ought to teach that at school. How to make a living? It is odd the bombardment with slogans on having success we all are exposed to since childhood. Even odder is using the term success to define the condition of having a job. Call me a leftish, a socialist or even a communist, I don’t care, but I see employment and dignified wages as basic universal human rights.
Instead of a strictly ruled unemployment allowance, state budgets must deliver to every citizen a guaranteed social income in order to eradicate poverty. The popular theory stating people wouldn’t search for work if they had enough money for food and shelter is, to my eyes, a plain fallacy. Some people might not work, but the large majority would look for jobs or start businesses to both enlarge their income and follow their talents.
I not only believe state budgets have more than enough money for this, specially with strong regulation of real estate prices, as I am sure this would be the smartest investment ever done. Consumption would rise, duly taxed, creative forms of businesses would flourish from potential entrepreneurs and a more sustainable and equalitarian economy would emerge.
Am I being naïve?
I am not focused nor confidant enough to achieve a fast pace of drawing. Over the years I forced myself to postpone drawing and give priority to daily tasks up to the point of feeling guilty each time I grabbed a pencil. This extends to all other pleasures I have. Writing and making music bring to me the same sinful malediction.
My focused was to become financial independent at all costs. I set up for a steady job to pay the mortgage for an apartment and here I am, slave of my household, or I should say the bank, horrified with the prospect of losing my regular civil servant income.
Two decades of restraint pass by until I became nuts. After the focus on pleasure, I lost it on work and on life itself. Time passes and instead of living I became a witness, having no attachment to reality at all. The loss of pleasure evolved to a loss of reference. If you don’t nurture the things you’re fond of, the labyrinth of indecision kicks in. No cardinal points, no capacity of choice, and you fall into the abyss of generalized anxiety.
To create faster I must let myself create more, loose from the chains of guilt. In both this blog and the shop I try to give legitimacy to my drawing through the effort of making it both a business and a service. I now provide objects some people might long for in exchange for their money. Someday I’ll work fast end efficient enough to pay my mortgage.
Monetize, monetize, monetize! That is all I can think about on this urge for life changing. The right column of this blog has an ever-growing list of my favorites from Amazon, there are widgets for WordAds and the plug-in for AdSense. I sell PDF files and subscriptions for exclusive videos. I propose donations to the blog. I also have the Etsy shop and music pages on Spotify and YouTube in the hope of getting my cut from viewings and ads.
The fantasy of making a living from drawings, sounds and stories is launching me on the quest for begging tools and strategies. Experts on these things present the schematics of the funneling tunnel and give advices on calling to action and finding out niches. Buttering up customers is said to be key in order to keep them coming on a regular bases. It seems being kind and polite is not enough. One must even meddle in social gatherings and networks, always recalling most high-stake businesses take place at the lunch table.
This universe is overwhelming to me. The requirement to beg and buttering is completely obnoxious to a person craving for freedom. I keep doing my best to accept trading games lightly, in spite of the chilling disgust that haunts me.
I was raised to hate commerce, business and money. All that had to do with wealth had the spectrum of dishonesty, selfishness and harm to others, either through exploitation or deceive. To my ethic self, decent activities were those which income came from wages. A person worked and was regularly paid without having to kiss ass. Salespersons were ass-kissers, greasing customers with coupons, sales, discounts, bullshit discourses about the quality of the products and the integrity of their makers. The same line of thought were applied to service providers, artists included, and their cult of personality or campaigns of self-promotion. All publicity should be banned to my eyes.
I was a jerk in wonderland.
Only when I became aware of the concept sovereign debt I came across reality and the nature of both trading and money. Sovereign debt meant that nations were part of the investment market. That denoted wages for public servants and funds for public infrastructures came from thousands of anonymous investors who could be either businessmen or drug cartels washing their money. Nobody knows for sure if one’s country runs on blood money from thugs. And astonishingly enough, from our stained hands we give them back the money with interests through our taxes. We also give money as consumers of the products thugs sell to us, most of them made in countries where workers have no human rights.
Two main lessons are taken from this. First, all wages come from trading. Second, all trading has blood in it.
As far as my actions, this means that becoming a salesman, either of my products or my services, is not a loss of nobility. On the contrary, it is a gain. I would be providing my own money instead of having a boss with the hard task of making the decisions for an ensured income. Such a task is now mine. As for the blood, I might have the possibility of making the right choices, while as wage earner I have no choice at all.
I have no idea whether my store and my drawings will open the possibility of having a business of my one. Nevertheless, I have learnt that publicity is both legitimate and essential. The challenge is to make it effective and decent.