Keeping Up

Clothes Make the Man ~ Philip Brent

Clothes Make the Man ~ Philip Brent

Have you seen the ad about a fictitious media platform called Woo Woo? Though it seems ubiquitous in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, I’ll assume that you haven’t. The ad shows two nerds in an elevator, standing behind two much hipper people. One of the hipper people asks his buddy if he’s on Woo Woo. The answer is, of course. We next see the nerds at a company they obviously run, ordering their minions to create a Woo-Woo presence. They set up posts, create a non-gender specific mascot and do what’s necessary to be hip and current. The closing scenes shows the hipsters alone in the elevator. Again the question is asked, are you on Woo Woo? This time the answer is, naw, my mother’s on Woo Woo.

The implication is that we all need the newest, latest most sophisticated and, yes, the most in tech, network, platform, site. I understand, but for me, that’s problematic. It’s not that I don’t want to be current. In fact, as an artist, I need to be current, able to reach potential fans and clients. However, it doesn’t seem to matter what I want or need or how it may impact my hopes and dreams.

I came to art in late middle age. I have produced a body of work, as well as being awarded and shown in juried online and galleried shows. I learned how to code in html, then Dreamweaver, Photoshop, illustrator and InDesign. I’ve designed multiple sites, including those I currently use, with the aid of pre-made templates. I have also joined online sales sites, taken courses and read extensively about how to promote myself and my art. I have sold some small amount of originals and prints, but have neither been as successful as I would like, nor been able to move to the next level. I believe the future will decide if I’m talented and to what degree. Though it may make me seem unprofessional and money-grubbing, I’d be more than happy to have my work approved in the form of sales now.

I also write and produce digital art, so I try to keep my name, thoughts and images out there as best I can. I fear I am using the wrong sites and using them in the wrong way. I follow other artists and creatives. I have followers and often have a positive response to my work. Unfortunately, this has rarely resulted in sales. Despite what I said about the future, I am a good artist with an original style. That’s not enough. I know I may never be recognized or discovered, but I would appreciate being rewarded while I’m still alive.

In this age of worldwide and near-instantaneous communication, I have a better chance of accomplishing this than many artists in times past. However, I not only have to acquire the materials I need, learn the skills required and produce my art and writing, but also become an expert in public relations, sales, marketing and promote my creative output on the most effective sites in the most effective manner. I do my best with all of these, but fear I’m falling far short. Additionally, the time I spend producing art or writing is time taken away from promoting and selling my work and vice versa.

I barely keep up with email, which I realize is old tech. I don’t text, except at great need, and
prefer to visit or talk to people directly. I’m on Google+ and Twitter, but only by dint of sharing what I post on my sites. I imagine that’s not the best way to use either. I’m on Facebook, more old-school technology, and LinkedIn. Though not looking for employment, I post on LinkedIn. I’ve connected to a number of people, some I know and many I don’t. I’ve even made a friend half a world away, though we’ve never met or are likely to do so. I communicate with people on Facebook. Some of them are current friends and some are people with whom I went to high-school, or friends of friends or of chosen family. Often these are people I don’t remember being friends with, either in high school or otherwise, but who have become friends now. Some of them, at least. All of them are once removed, as it were, and some of them are relative strangers. Mostly we think alike, see the world through the same bias. Except for the ones who hold opposing views. Each of us does our best to keep the other’s feet to the fire. Most of us do not expect to create miraculous changes in anyone else, but it’s a way of making us sure we are honest with ourselves.

This is mostly good, except perhaps the truly inane posts, but it connects us and gives us a sense of community, a global village amidst all the chaos in the world around us. For me, several of these people are artists, writers or creative in other ways. These people are sharing the same struggles I am, no matter where they are on their journey. I don’t know how, or how well they handle the business and promotional sides of their creativity. I cannot believe I am the only one who feels the feels the way I do, or worries about failing in this manner. Nor do I think it only applies to people in the arts. Whether we seek employment, opportunity, support or recognition, we need to be current with the latest trends and technology. I’ll continue to fight, hopefully the good fight, and accept or offer any help possible. I’ll do my best, but can only imagine what this will be like in ten or twenty years. If we are to survive, we must be brave as we enter this new world.

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