Make For An Audience!

Last week, I introduced the following dilemma : do you make art that you think will please an audience, or do you make art that pleases you first-most?

In this letter, I will argue that you should consider your audience, and in the following letter , I will argue the opposite.

Here’s the thing.

If you want to make money with your art, or if you are just out for admiration from an audience (and it is a good idea, to be honest about that, to know what drives you), you need to make something they need.

Why do people buy your work?

In a movie (I forgot which one), there’s a scene where one character tells the people around him, “sell me this pen!” A few people try. They argue how wonderful the pen is. They all fail to sell the pen. Then one other guy, who is casually eating a hamburger, tells him (and I might be getting this part wrong) that there is an important party in town tonight, with lots of people he must meet, and whether he would like to come with him. The other guy says he’d love to, so the burger guy says, write down your name so I can get you on the guest list. After which, the guy says, “I don’t have a pen.” Without missing a beat, the burger guy presents the pen, continuing to enjoy his burger.

The burger guy sold the other guy on living a certain life: one where he was at this important party that night. And all he needed for that was to buy that pen.

You don’t sell your product. You sell a lifestyle, and your product just happens to help your customer live that lifestyle.

There was a Medium article where the writer fumed at “free” webinars, explaining that these were selling lifestyles, and their online course, of course, just happened to help them achieve that lifestyle.

It’s with everything if you think about it. You buy things because of what you want to be. You buy fruit because you want to live a life of enjoying that lovely taste and want to be the person who lives healthily. You buy the Apple computer because you are the type of person, maybe an art director, who surrounds yourself with beautiful things in your office, like the successful art director you are. It’s fine if it is a bit more expensive. (I guess this is for another letter, but the visuals you surround yourself with influence your art!)

And now for the meat: why do people buy art?

There are many, many reasons people may buy art!

  1. To hang on a wall. To surround themselves with beautiful art. They want to lead a life where beautiful things surround them, and they buy the art, hoping that it will provide that life.
  2. A fellow artist might be inspired by your work and want to be influenced and watch it every day. (That is why you follow so many great artists on social media! Admit it!) They want to live a life where they make art as good as yours, and they buy your art so that they can be inspired by it every day.
  3. Your friends and family might buy your work because they love your work, of course, and because they want to be the kind of person who supports their friends and family. They want to live that life where they support their friends. This is the realm of the crowdfunding space. People like you, like your work, and buy your work.
  4. If your art makes it to the world’s Sotheby’s and Christie’s, then your art becomes a status symbol. The people who buy your art buy it because they want to show how successful they are, and they want to lead the life of a person who is admired for their success. You Buy Damien Hirst’s Shark on Formaldehyde in a tank for twelve million and put it slam-dunk in the middle of your fifth-avenue penthouse living room because you want to show people what a wonderfully successful hedgefund manager you are.
  5. Some writers want to work for big comics publishers. They may commission art from you to help them become that writer, to help them lead that life.
  6. You may buy art to help you avoid paying taxes. Many artists are well-known now because billionaires used them for that purpose. I think there are several ways they can do that.

There are probably many more examples, but you get the idea. People will buy your art if it helps them lead the life they want to lead.

Me, I don’t want money. I tried to figure out how social media works. I started sharing my art but soon realized people were on to find information that would make them better artists. And so hence I started PracticeDrawingThis.

PracticeDrawingThis was to record the tricks I found to stay creative, to keep a creative habit when life made that less easy. I recorded it mainly for myself, but I figured I could see if it could be helpful for other people.

PracticeDrawingThis is me finding out if I could make things others are interested in. Practicing “Marketing” (I know! Pthew! Dirty word!)

I keep making things I think are cool, but these things often receive no reaction. And I wanted to see if I could make people see that the things I am making are cool.

And for that, I needed to figure out what it was you were getting from PracticeDrawingThis, to figure out how it was helping you lead the life you want to lead.

If you want anything from an audience, you have to figure out what life they want to lead and how your art will help them lead that life.

And then you sell them on that lifestyle. For which your “product” just so happens to be the right fit.

That’s enough commercial talk! Pthew! Next week, I shall passionately argue the opposite!
Yours,
Ayal

My Favorite Drawing Exercises

If you feel like drawing, then check out my favorite drawing exercises!

Do these exercises

form studies to warm up, slow down, get into the right meditative state, and improve your draftsmanship skills.

Do these form studies

form studies to help you improve creating underdrawings, place things in space, practice doing perspective by sight.

Practice drawing from memory to fill your visual bank, ability to memorize, ability to visualize, ability to draw what you see in your imagination and your ability to see what is wrong with your drawings.

If you find it hard to create or maintain a creative habit, you can find some habit-related tips here.

Check out these pleasing, calm, art-related (mostly) podcasts to listen to while drawing. They have been automatically prepared for you to automatically binge-listen to so that you can start drawing.

Lastly, also make sure you have fun in your sketchbook after the hard practice! Here is one guide that can help you jog your creativity.

creativity exercise

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