One of the most difficult things about being an artist is self-promotion.
By Katy Rea
I’ve always struggled with what to share, how much, and when to share it. I’m an actress who writes songs, and I’m also quite shy. This sounds like a contradiction, but I know I’m not the only person that falls into this category. I recently read a little book called Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon, and it really helped me. I suggest artists of any kind read it. He makes the crumby business side of art do-able.
One unrelated note: The Pickle Guys in The Lower East Side is incredible! Please go try their pickles! Take the F to Delancey.
Back to this,
Advice I love and actually took by Mr. Kleon-
- Read the obituaries: this sounds morbid but it’s actually really inspiring. By reading about the dead and their successes, you learn how important it is to make a name for yourself. The obituaries remind me how short life truly is. it's time to get up early and start sharing my gift. Wouldn’t it be awful to die and never have your work seen? Remembering that you’ll be dead soon is very valuable!
- Be an Amateur and Love it: Charlie Chaplin said “ That’s all any of us are: amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.” Amateurs are life long learners and they aren’t afraid to fail because why not? If you're falling at least you are moving in some direction. It’s easy to feel sad about not having and agent, having to wait in a non-eq line, or paying for your own studio time.But I know the best songs I’ve written have come from struggle. Lines come to me in the subway and on Ave C. I don’t know if they’ll come as easily in my own private Uber with money on the line.
- Tell Your Story: This one is my favorite! Reading this section of the book made me realize that people don’t really care about your work unless they feel involved. So tell them a story. Appeal to their emotions. If you write a song, paint something, write a play, or ask folks to come see you in a show, let them in on why the project is special to you. What was my process and how do I explain it in a captivating way? Everyone loves a good story and there is a story behind your art. Document your progress so that you can show people the work and time it takes to make art.
- Credit Others and Share Your Taste: Good artists have great taste….they just do. “Open your cabinet of curiosities,” and share your inspirations with others. Good artists also pay it forward. Here are some friends of mine who I think are incredible:
- Berkshire Hounds: A band from Austin, Texas. Some of these members I went to High School with and they are wonderful songwriters. Rock N’Roll Baby!
- My dear friend Katy Wood is a beautiful photographer! Check out her online portfolio at http://katywoodphotography.com/
- Matt Larocca, a silly high school crush of mine and now a songwriter in LA. I think he’s got somethin’ unique and i'm not just saying that. http://www.mattlarocca.net/
So...you should pick up this book and read it! I learned a great deal about promotion and I’m not as scared to show my work. The most important thing is to remember who your true friends are on the road ahead and that it’s about process not product. If you don’t enjoy your work…get another job. And please, please share your art!
Visit Austin Kleaon’s website and subscribe to his email list. He sends out some really valuable info.
Oh and one last thing,