One of my friends, Heather, recently wrote to me “I see you as you are, soft and strong…” and those words really hit me. Soft and strong – how is that possible? I have often believed that to be soft is to be weak. I have massive issues in showing vulnerability to people I feel I should show command in front of. The problem is, I wrongly always see myself in a place of command, authority, and responsibility.

Over the years I’ve struggled tremendously with anxiety. Most specifically social anxiety, but it extends everywhere. From canceling tea dates with friends to refusing to attend entire events, I have too often let my anxiety cripple me.

But then again, I’ve also flourished in it. I realized early on where I fly and where I fall. I crave control, so if I am on a stage, I flourish. I know people are there to see me, so I take the control I was given and can seriously command a stage. But if I take on the role of my “normal” self, not the elevated person that people sometimes see, I flounder. A lunch with friends, a party…I shut down. I cancel, I won’t attend, or I try and I end up outside in tears.

All my life I looked upon softness as a defect. Push through, do what you have to. Don’t let others see your weakness. I know that were I in a room today with you, I’d still put that mask on. I know I’m not past it.

But I want to be. Many of us here are creative individuals – perhaps artists for a living or for a passion. We are largely drawn to that life because we feel deeply. I know that I feel deeply. But I find those deep feelings a very personal experience. I shudder at sharing it with others.

But I want to be, as Heather said, soft and strong at the same time. I want to learn how to be both, better.

I felt it was important to write this down here so that you know you’re not alone. If there is one thing I’ve always believed, it’s that if I feel something, I know someone else does, too. It also felt important to write this here because:

It is okay to be proud of yourself and still have moments of weakness.

It is okay to be confident yet still unsure.

It is okay to command a stage but flee from a party.

It is okay to be brilliantly yourself, even if that means you have mental illness.

It is okay. However you are is okay. I revel in myself today, all of my oddities and contradictions. They are what make me complex. And yes, that I know – I am wildly complex. Take ownership of that beautiful fact, because you are, too.

Sometimes the best way to get out of your head is to change your perspective. Literally. If you work with a camera, use a different angle! That discovery was paramount to my growth as an artist.

See what you can do to create from a different perspective or angle than you normally would!

I’ll pull some of the art that I see this week to feature!
Use the hashtag #PromotingPassionChallenge so I can find you!

Here is some food for thought. Enjoy the challenge, and remember to push yourself creatively!

  • March 31, 2020 - 11:33 pm

    Gallagher Green - I am going to try so hard to get a photo done for this, despite the insane craziness that is my life right now!ReplyCancel

It’s a freaky round of 10 Things I Love… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My dark heart needs to be satisfied, and these are the things that make it swell:

  1. Andreas Mantegna and his forced perspective paintings
  2. Francesca Woodman (self-portrait artist)
  3. Hannibal (tv show) – Season 1, Episode 2
  4. Francis Bacon (paintings) + Battleship Potemkin (1925 silent movie – a frequent influence in his work)
  5. Caravaggio (dark paintings)
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (dark fantasy book)
  7. Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka Spel – Beyond the Reach & The Clock at the Back of the Cage (music videos)
  8. Emil Alzamora (sculptor)
  • March 31, 2020 - 11:32 pm

    Gallagher Green - I will check these out thanks!ReplyCancel

A self-portrait does not have to be the whole self. If you’re not there yet with that kind of work (and it is a deep, long-lasting work), only use a part of yourself. A hand, your hair – get creative! And if you feel like you can push yourself, create a full-fledged self-portrait!

This means you are the one working the camera and in front of it. I’ve created over 500 self-portraits in the past 10 years. Whew. Jump on board with me!

I’ll pull some of the art that I see this week to feature!
Use the hashtag #PromotingPassionChallenge so I can find you!

Here is some food for thought. Enjoy the challenge, and remember to push yourself creatively!

Meta!
  • March 16, 2020 - 2:10 pm

    Gallagher Green - Got lots of ideas on this, it is my jam! ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2020 - 10:11 am

    Naufragia - Lovely work as always. Love the hands in the back, and the contrast between red and blue!ReplyCancel

+ A branding test!

If you are someone who…

  • Makes art and has a business
  • Makes art and doesn’t have a business

…you have a brand. It doesn’t matter if you sell your art or if you don’t, you still have a sweet little package that contains your personality and art. You may never have labeled it. You may never have thought about it. But the word “brand” still applies. 

Why? Because the way you define your style makes up your brand.

I want this to be a really practical look at how to figure out your brand, because I’m a little tired of not having a roadmap myself.

In the climate of today’s art world, the people who can move between an art-mind…

and a business-mind are the artists who succeed.

I want everyone to have the best chance of survival, because I want the best art to shine. So let’s all get up to snuff on branding.

Here are the steps that I find most valuable:

  1. Define the visual style of your art.
  2. Define the conceptual style of your art.
  3. Define your personality.
  4. Write an artist statement containing two sentences for each of the following topics: What you create, how you create, and why you create.
    1. If you have multiple ways of creating, do this for each one separately.
  5. Diversify your content. Figure out how to put your branding keywords into more of the content you produce.

The first four items on the branding to-do list are simple. Writing out lists of words is the most basic level of branding 101. Figure out what words you identify with. Keep them close.

The fifth task is more difficult. After all, if we understood intuitively where to pour our energy, we’d all be wealthy, working artists. 

I believe the key to a successful brand is to put passion first. It might sound woo-woo, and a little too on-the-nose for this blog, but it’s the real deal. If everything you create (art and business wise) go back to your passion, you will build a brand that lasts. 

Branding gets a bad reputation because it insinuates, at least to me, the idea that we are all acting in order to get attention. Branding makes artists seem like sell-outs. This is a topic I feel very strongly about.

But in effect, all branding does is give a container to a mess of could-bes. 

Your art and your personality are messy. Everyone’s is. That’s life. And humans naturally search for containers for the mess. Literally and figuratively. We put toys in bins, we organize our pantries. We compartmentalize trauma and we let joy move to the forefront. We love personality tests because it makes us feel understood, but also because it categorizes us and that feels good

So branding makes sense to me. I think of it as my own, made-up personality test for my art. 

In that spirit, here is a test I want you to take. 

Answer with the word you most identify with:

  1. Are you more spontaneous or structured?
  2. Is your art visually more dark or light?
  3. Is your art conceptually more deep or surface?
  4. Do you enjoy monochrome or color?
  5. Is your personality more bubbly or subdued?
  6. Are you more inclined to share or to hide?
  7. Do you want people to feel hope when they see your work or sorrow?
  8. Do you produce work fast or slow?
  9. Are you more about product or process?
  10. Is your work detailed or big-picture?
  11. Is your work for the realists or the dreamers?
  12. Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Here are my answers. Share yours below!!

  1. Are you more spontaneous or structured? Structured
  2. Is your art visually more dark or light? Dark
  3. Is your art conceptually more deep or surface? Deep
  4. Do you enjoy monochrome or color? Monochrome
  5. Is your personality more bubbly or subdued? Bubbly
  6. Are you more inclined to share or to hide? Share
  7. Do you want people to feel hope when they see your work or sorrow? Both
  8. Do you produce work fast or slow? Fast
  9. Are you more about product or process? Process
  10. Is your work detailed or big-picture? Big-picture
  11. Is your work for the realists or the dreamers? Dreamers
  12. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Introvert

By asking either/or questions, you can begin to narrow in on your brand without stressing yourself out. It’s easier to think in terms of yes or no sometimes instead of the wide sweep of WHAT IS MY BRAND. 

In fact, do this with a friend. Go through as many questions are you can think of that are yay/nay questions so that you can workshop together some of the finer points of your brands.

Let’s go back to the idea of a passion-based brand. 

If you know how you operate naturally, you are already working under a passion-based brand, assuming how you work naturally is how you are working. 

A passion-based brand is a brand where all elements and choices relate back to your core passion. For example, every single thing that I put out there, be it behind the scenes content, images, videos, jobs I take, etc., are all conscious choices made because I love to do them. They also all feature things that I love to do. 

The goal of a passion-based brand is to make sure your actions (ie: what you put out there, in all forms) aligns with your content (what you create). 

PASSIONATE ACTION
+
PASSIONATE CONTENT
=
PASSION-BASED BRANDING

Share your test with us in the comments and let me know if you have any questions about branding. I’d love to create a follow-up post about this, and maybe even an online seminar!

  • March 18, 2020 - 5:05 pm

    Maureen Denny - These steps seem easy but for me, not so much. I will give it a try and see what I come up with. Meanwhile, I did manage the test at least!

    1. Are you more spontaneous or structured? Spontaneous
    2. Is your art visually more dark or light? Light
    3. Is your art conceptually more deep or surface? Surface
    4. Do you enjoy monochrome or color? Color
    5. Is your personality more bubbly or subdued? Subdued
    6. Are you more inclined to share or to hide? Hide
    7. Do you want people to feel hope when they see your work or sorrow? Hope
    8. Do you produce work fast or slow? Sometimes fast, other times painfully slow.
    9. Are you more about product or process? Process
    10. Is your work detailed or big-picture? Big picture
    11. Is your work for the realists or the dreamers? Realists
    12. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Introvert, big time.ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2020 - 4:28 am

    Michi Lantz - 1. Are you more spontaneous or structured? Depends. In brainstormin mode I’m spontaneous. After that more structured.

    2. Is your art visually more dark or light? Dark.

    3. Is your art conceptually more deep or surface? Deep.

    4. Do you enjoy monochrome or color? Both.

    5. Is your personality more bubbly or subdued? Subdued mostly. But with close friends definiteley bubbly at times.

    6. Are you more inclined to share or to hide? Share.

    7. Do you want people to feel hope when they see your work or sorrow? Both.

    8. Do you produce work fast or slow? Mostly rather slow.

    9. Are you more about product or process? Process.

    10. Is your work detailed or big-picture? Big picture.

    11. Is your work for the realists or the dreamers? Dreamers.

    12. Are you an introvert or extrovert? Introverted and HSP.ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2020 - 10:18 am

    Naufragia - Are you more spontaneous or structured? – Depends.
    Is your art visually more dark or light? Both. I love both sides of the spectrum. I guess if I have to choose one, it’s light.
    Is your art conceptually more deep or surface? Deep.
    Do you enjoy monochrome or color? Both.
    Is your personality more bubbly or subdued? Subdued, but trying to be more spontaneous and bubbly now!
    Are you more inclined to share or to hide? Share
    Do you want people to feel hope when they see your work or sorrow? Depends on the work… it tends to be hope, but with darkness in it.
    Do you produce work fast or slow? It tends to be slow.
    Are you more about product or process? Process, everytime I try to give this more importance.
    Is your work detailed or big-picture? Detailed.
    Is your work for the realists or the dreamers? Both
    Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’m in the middle according to the Myers-Biggs personality test.ReplyCancel