boost

12 Oct

The student is not an isolated force. He belongs to a great brotherhood, bears great kinship to his kind. He takes and he gives. He benefits by taking and he benefits by giving. ~ Robert Henri, The Art Spirit (pp. 18-19)

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When teaching self-promotion I cover all of the expected topics — advertising, social media, networking, etc. — most of which I will write about in subsequent posts on this blog. There is a secret spring that runs beneath the surface of Self-Promo Land, however; a spring that ties them all together, and feeds each and every promotional effort. The spring is called GENEROSITY.

Yes, you should give stuff away to potential clients: pens, magnets, all of that. But generosity at its best goes deeper, affecting not only your relationships with clients, but also with your fellow illustrators.

Give the gift of promo.

Don’t promote yourself exclusively. Promote other people, too. Maybe they will do the same for you in return, but if they don’t, that’s okay. By definition, a true gift is freely given.

Nobody likes the guy who walks around in the light of his own personal spotlight all of the time. That guy is intolerable, an annoying gnat. But, think about it: everybody likes the guy who offers light to others.

Now, Class. I know some of you are thrilled to hear me say this because you are quiet little mice who prefer the cool comfort of the holes in which you live, and the thought of promoting yourself makes your blood run cold. Most illustrators I know, including Yours Truly, are introverts. To you, my fellow mice, I say this: You still have to make some noise and tell the world that you exist. Squeak! Speak up! No one knows better than you, what you do, and the services you are willing to provide to your fellow man. Don’t expect other people to do this for you. I send out postcards and advertise on various websites and use social media to promote myself directly (future posts!), but I also use those tools — the free ones — to promote my friends. Because I want the best for them. I need to make a living, but I want them to succeed, too.

We are all competitive — a good thing — but let’s face it, visual artists rival writers when it comes to being neurotic. And we all know what a mess they are (she wrote, tongue in cheek). We are convinced that everyone else’s career is going better than ours. Each of us is on a separate path, but the terrain under everyone’s feet is hilly. Every artist spends time in the valley, as well as on top of the mountain. Yes, for the past eight years or so work has been more scarce than it used to be, but that’s all the more reason to celebrate when any of us lands a new assignment.

Be a generous promoter, and celebrate your friends’ successes. Your career and your life will be better for it.

It is really not important whether one’s vision is as great as that of another. It is a personal question as to whether one shall live in and deal with his greatest moments of happiness. ~ Robert Henri, The Art Spirit (p. 32)

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