You get an idea, you make something and what’s the first thing you want to do? Tell someone about it, right? Are they usually as excited about your idea or creation as you? Probably not.
You might feed off of this and lose a bit of your original excitement. Maybe you push through and the next time you have a brilliant idea or make a work of art, you rush to show someone once again and maybe this time they focus on the one thing wrong with it out of the hundred things right with it and you walk away determined to continue with your idea despite what others think but you also possibly decide not to talk about it so much with them.
Fast forward a few years into the future and we often find a once creative ball of energy glued to a screen watching other people exert their energy and create things that can only now be thought of as miraculous and the product of luck, connections and god-given talent. Any ideas are kept inside and any creative works are hidden away for the occasional person thought to be supportive enough and nice enough to show them to.
What happens to many of us over time is that we become the effect of the things people say or don’t say. We see how people can be, with their body mannerisms and their silence when shown something we think is awesome and they don’t. After many experiences like this we might come to the conclusion that our ideas or work are not good enough and that people should be approached with caution. In other words, we become fearful and withdraw. But the funny thing is that this does not keep someone safe, instead they go right into the most dangerous place of all, solitary confinement. It’s what keeps every single person on Earth from achieving the success they are really looking for. It’s not fame and fortune; it’s a pat on the back, it’s a thumbs up, it’s a look of admiration — it’s what we feel from other people.
The reason someone is not successful has everything to do with their ability to confront and communicate with other human beings. Are there mean people? Are there jerks and assholes? Are there criminals and liars? Yes, totally. However, most people are not. Are they sometimes lacking in enthusiasm? Do they make mistakes and say the wrong things? Are they sometimes too engrossed in their own problems that they fail to fully pay attention to what’s going on with others around them? Yes, of course.
Super, awesome people do exist but they are few and far between. If you’re expecting everyone to readily accept your ideas and your art and validate the hell out of your hard work and brilliance, you’re going to be sadly disappointed a majority of the time. It does happen, but not as often as we all want it to.
So what does this all mean?
It means that no matter what you are trying to accomplish or what you have to sell or what message you are attempting to deliver, you are trying to do these things with other human beings, who are not saints, who are not super human and who might just say or do the wrong thing and you have to be understanding of this to have any success with anything.
I don’t care if you’re trying to break through as a novelist or be the best damn stay at home mom in the world or create the next killer app, you will have to interact with and communicate with other human beings to win.
No man is an island all to himself and you wouldn’t want to be. What makes life great is that everyone is unique. There is no one else exactly like you. You are different, literally. So, of course it will be a challenge to talk to and connect with other people.
Everyone has their own backstory, their own set of experiences and their own reality about things. You’re not trying to get everyone to be like you or like what you like, you just need to communicate with enough people about your idea or your work to find the ones they will resonate with. But if you let the few mean and ornery individuals out there get to you, and if you allow their criticisms and negativity to seep into your purposes and goals, you will never push through enough to reach the awesome people, the ones open to communication and willing to check your stuff out.
People often view what happens online in a very strange way. They sometimes see their friends or followers or subscribers as an anonymous, blurry mass of a concept rather than as real human beings. The way to win at it is not to simply throw out content and post links. The real way to win is through one on one human connection and interaction.
When you personally communicate to someone online or in the real world doesn’t that mean more than something you look at that was sent to a bunch of people all at once? Doesn’t it mean something when someone sends you a direct message rather than just clicking like on a post?
People are so focused on building a large audience and getting the most out of their posts but the real game is not in the inflated numbers of likes, tweets, followers etc. The real game is building genuine relationships that are built on more than a superficial clicking of a like button. They are built on friendship, good will, support, help and all the best things about people.
You want to really crush it in your lifetime? Want to realize all of your potential and walk through life fearless and overflowing with confidence? Do right by people. Build something real between you and those you communicate with. Look for ways you can help others rather than how others can help you. Be the embodiment of what a friend should be to the greatest number of people.
Is it hard? Will it take a lot of time? Will it cost you? Yep, but all the best things worth pursuing always do. However, what’s the alternative? What kind of world do you actually want to live in? One where people aren’t being real and aren’t actually talking and listening to each other? Or do you want to live in a world full of meaning and genuine communication where people freely create and ideas are easily received? The world is truly being built as we speak.
Communicate, but make sure you’re keeping it real. People are easy to find, especially with hashtags and profiles, but the hard thing is getting them to care. It takes work and persistence but the solution is super simple. Care about other people and they’ll end up caring about you. Now go communicate with them!
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by David Carus
Today’s artists may consider it a challenge to get noticed and build a fan base. You’ve heard that people don’t buy like they used to, there’s a million things competing for their attention and what you really have to do is know the right person. The picture being painted is that your chances of making it big are about as good as winning the lottery and you’re not successful unless paparazzi chase you. It’s easy to get discouraged if you think you need millions of fans to be a success. The truth is you only need one.
Ever hear of these four guys from Liverpool? The Beatles are widely considered the greatest rock band of all-time but before they had thousands of screaming fans waiting for them at the airport and the British Invasion taking full effect, they needed a hit record to catch on in America. Beatles records were sent to radio stations and they were all huge failures. Nobody was interested in listening to the greatest rock band of all-time! That is except for one 14 year-old girl living in Maryland who discovered the Beatles and called her local radio station and asked why they didn’t play their music. The DJ she spoke with obtained a copy of I Want To Hold Your Hand and the record took off like a rocket, establishing a foothold for the Beatles in America that quickly spread to other cities. In a short time they were the biggest musical act in the country and had thousands of screaming fans, but it started with only one true fan.
How about the story of Sixto Rodriguez? Who is that you might ask? He was a little-known folk singer from Detroit in the 1970’s with a couple of albums that sold practically no copies in the Unites States. He thought his music career was done and went back to working construction. But someone liked his music and began making copies of it and gave it out to friends. His music became huge in South Africa and an entire generation of people grew up on his music and he became bigger than Elvis there. Rodriguez had no idea until decades later. His story became the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and the Dave Matthews Band has even covered his music. Dave Matthews, one of the biggest musicians in the world said he grew up listening to Rodriguez when he lived in South Africa. All of this happened because of one true fan.
Don’t focus on the fans you don’t have. Focus on the ones you do have. So David Letterman isn’t interviewing you on his show tonight and you’ve only got 24 likes on your Facebook Page and the only people that follow you on Twitter are from Indonesia — it doesn’t matter. Make great art and find one true fan that loves it. You never know who they might share it with and how far the word might reach. So forget the sold-out audiences that aren’t there and see the audiences that are there. You probably already have a true fan and have been too busy to notice. Speak to them. Smile and wave and let them know they’re important — because they are.
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What Tom Cruise Did To Make It
by David Carus
He has been called the biggest movie star in the world. He’s worked with every big name director and star in Hollywood. For decades his films have consistently generated millions at the box office. It’s safe to say the kind of success Tom Cruise has experienced is no fluke but instead the result of hard work. So what did he do to make it?
Tom Cruise didn’t come from elite Hollywood royalty. In fact, his family was poor, his parents divorced and his career path wasn’t easily laid out for him. When he decided to get into acting he wasn’t immediately handed the role of Maverick in Top Gun. There were lots of smaller roles to be played before he solidified himself as a star. His first big screen role was Billy the arsonist in the movie Endless Love and Cruise was only on screen for 47 seconds! Some actors might have been frustrated about getting so little screen time but Cruise decided to take his character and create as best he could with him so his 47 seconds would be memorable and they were! So much so that it helped him land his next role in the movie Taps.
Once again he was only supposed to play a minor part but after seeing how committed the actor was on set (he was out-marching the other cadets) Taps director Harold Becker gave Cruise a larger role. With it he established that he could play a killer, so much so that when he expressed interest in the title role for Risky Business, the director Paul Brickman said no way. Despite this Tom Cruise showed up unannounced, created an opportunity for himself to audition and landed the coveted role. He slid across that floor in his underwear and let America know a new star had arrived. By the time Top Gun hit theaters there was no stopping the actor.
How did he pull it all off? He used hard work, committed himself to the roles he played, no matter what they were or required and showed a passion for creating movies. He built each character, was determined to become that person and did what it took to see them through. He’s one of the few actors that does his own stunts. Why? Because he knows that’s what it takes to make the best picture he can make. He once said, “That’s what works for me: the power of my own imagination and my own ability to believe.”
He makes it look effortless, like being a movie star is something you’re just born with but on closer examination we see that he just showed up more times and spent longer hours than anyone else to get the job done. He made up his mind that he was not only going to be an actor but that he was going to be a great one. You can tell the level of responsibility he has for his work because he also produces his own films. Despite whatever happens in the tabloids or press the guy continues to get in front of cameras and create. His films are the work of a true professional and stellar artist. One who keeps showing up eager to make something great and no matter the limitations finds a way -- he creates!
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The Future of Reading
by David Carus
The one constant love of my life has always been reading. As a kid I’d leave the library with a huge stack of books almost as tall as I was and race to finish them all before I had to take them back. When I got a little older I was through the roof when I discovered I could buy paperbacks for $0.25 at the local Goodwill and started amassing my own library. It was reading books that empowered me and it was always my most successful action in life to get where I wanted to go. So you can imagine my excitement when I recently woke up and realized where technology has taken books and what reading them looks like moving towards the future.
The idea of electronic books (ebooks) is nothing new. They’ve been around for a few years, but today it is easier than ever to read them and that is changing everything. I remember my first ebooks were internet marketing related and I could only read them on my computer so they’d go unread. Who wants to read a book on their computer screen? It’s not a comfortable experience. But then things changed when smart phones and mobile devices hit the scene. Now you could read an ebook anywhere, just like real books! When the first iPad came out I couldn’t wait to start reading ebooks on it. I laid down on my bed with my iPad, ready to be swept away to the future, but it wasn’t what I expected. The ebooks cost nearly as much as regular books and after awhile my hands started cramping up because that first generation iPad was pretty heavy. So I gave up using my iPad for reading ebooks and used it instead for watching Netflix, checking email or writing notes.
A couple of years later I couldn’t help but notice some of my author friends were publishing ebooks using Amazon. They’d send a message asking me to download their ebook and many times they were free. I didn’t know how I would read them but I clicked the purchase button on my phone. I’d always planned to be a published author myself so I became more interested in ebooks the more I saw them mentioned across the internet. Amazon Kindle kept popping up and so did Nook. I found out I could download a free Amazon Kindle app on my phone and read those ebooks I’d purchased. Having a toddler is pretty challenging and in recent years I’d found it harder to read as much as I wanted but suddenly with that app on my phone I could get through tons of reading quickly and easily anytime I had a spare couple of minutes. I always had my phone with me so I could read anywhere at anytime. It was life changing.
I started to read more than I’d ever been able to read before. It was because I didn’t have to carry around physical books, prop them open or worry about losing my place. Reading ebooks had some big advantages. You could carry hundreds of books weightlessly in your pocket. You could jump from one book to another and your place in each of them would always automatically be kept. I used to hate reading books with difficult vocabulary because I’d need to have a dictionary close by to look up words. When you read an ebook all you have to do is press your finger over a word and the dictionary definition pops up! You can even make notes and highlight sections of the text. You can make the font bigger. When you’re reading in bed at night you don’t need a special reading light because your mobile device is already lit, and you can adjust the brightness!
I was loving the experience of reading ebooks so much that I bought a Kindle. My iPad had cost $500 but I got my Kindle Fire HD for $120. It was the perfect size, built for reading ebooks and the store was affordable and easy to use. It didn’t take me long to see that reading books on a device like a Kindle was a huge leap into the future. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel the need to buy physical books. Why would I when books were easier to store and faster to read for me digitally? I understand people will always want to read physical books and some couldn’t ever imagine themselves reading books electronically. I hear it all the time. People say, “I just like the feel of an actual book.” I know that feeling all too well. Books are awesome! With that said though, I think there are a lot of people that might view ebooks the way I used to view them: as unwieldy, sub-par and less accessible. For anyone that hasn’t tried reading them on a mobile device like a Kindle, a Nook or one of the smaller iPads out now, give it a try. I think you’ll be blown away like I was.
I’ve been so excited about digital publishing that it’s made me dust off my old manuscripts so my books can be part of this revolution. It’s still early in it, so if you’re an author you should get moving too. There will be those that hold on tight to hardcovers and paperbacks but as more people discover ebooks they will only continue to grow in popularity. It will become the primary way people read. There will always be physical books just like there will always be vinyl records but they will become more rare, reserved for those books we want for our special collection. I can’t imagine letting go of all my physical books but I know for the most part, I’ll be buying ebooks from here on out. I can access and read them faster. What’s more important? The books themselves or the knowledge gained from reading them? The world is about to get even smarter.
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An Artist's Approach to Parenting
I’m a dad. I have the most awesome son in the world. He’s two and a half years old. Throughout his life I’ve noticed him having quite an effect on people. It started on Facebook when I’d post pictures of him. He always generated more likes than anything else I’d post. He even got the attention of an artist friend of mine in London who asked if he could be part of her latest work (art below). As he got older and had better control of his body and words, I’d take him to the park or to the store and people would ask how old he was and say how mature he was for his age. Lately he’s been creating some incredible effects and I was lucky to film one of them and post it on YouTube. Some of my friends expressed interest in reading what I had to say about parenting and raising such a super kid, so I decided to finally tackle the subject. It also gives me a chance to tell the story behind the YouTube video I just uploaded. I’m sure everyone will love and be amazed by it. So here goes my viewpoint as a parent.
Parenting is something I never thought much about but when the time came to be a parent I suddenly realized no one had ever clearly explained how all of this would be. Sure, people that have kids will laugh and say things like “Good luck waking up in the middle of the night,” or “There goes your free time,” but too many details were missing. Having gone through the whole waking up in the middle of the night thing, changing diapers, rocking my son to sleep in about a million different ways, I can understand why people don’t elaborate on the experience. It’s because everyone is faced with the most difficult task they will ever have to do and no matter what happens, the job has to get done and by the end of it you’re at a loss for words as to what exactly happened; it becomes a big blur. Well, I learned a few things that helped me get through the blur and they helped give me the happiest kid you’ll ever see.
My son’s name is Sage. Sage basically means an old wise man. I was flipping through a book about seven years ago when I saw the word and thought how it would be an awesome name for a boy. I should also mention his middle name is Kal-El which is Superman’s real name (I wrote a song for Sage called "Kal-El," you can watch it below). I wanted my son to be smart, strong, able, caring, dynamic and help people. I wanted him to have a different kind of name because I thought of him as an individual. I didn’t want him to be me. I wanted him to be himself. I didn’t talk to him like he was a baby. No goo goo’s and ga ga’s. I talked to him like he was my friend, like an adult. I gave him space and independence but always stayed close enough to prevent him from hurting himself. When he did get hurt I didn’t baby him or show him sympathy; I just put his attention on the next thing. I didn’t invalidate him. I didn’t make him wrong or make him feel like he’d done something bad. I validated him. All the time I told him things like, “Good job!” or “Alright!” or “You did it!”
I knew he was watching and learning from my example so I tried my best to be the best person I could be around him. I wasn’t perfect and I didn’t expect him to be. We both did our best to not be too serious and have fun with what we did. I got excited when we were going to do something and he’d get excited too. It wasn’t easy and there were times I felt like throwing in the towel but I knew my worst was someone else’s best and tried to keep things in perspective. Overall, it took patience, good communication, good control, no punishment and lots of encouragement.
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I took Sage hiking and towards the end of our walk a family was walking towards us. Without saying a word, Sage walked up to the son and hugged him. Then he walked up to the daughter and hugged her too. The family and the kids were dumbfounded. I had to break the silence and told Sage, “Say, good to meet you.” He extended his hand out with tremendous purpose and said “Good to meet you,” to each person one by one. It was the most beautifully moving thing I’d ever seen in my life. When we walked away I told my wife, “My god, I wanted to cry,” she said, “Me too.”
Recently, we took a trip into Manhattan and came across a couple of street performers in Union Square. We stopped to watch a man playing a piano and another doing an interpretational dance to the music playing. The man dancing had big bushy hair, only wore underwear and tennis shoes, and had a fairly large audience watching him. I noticed Sage was excited to see him dancing and I could tell he wanted to get into the act. He did and I was able to film him as he made his way into the circle and it was a proud moment for me to watch him performing on the streets of New York City at 2 years old. Here's the YouTube video of him dancing:
I try to approach things as an artist. Parenting is definitely an art and you either become the starving artist parent, pointing at all of the barriers, or you become the master or genius artist parent, pointing at all of the freedoms. Watching my son running through the park with other kids, giving voices to the toys he plays with at home, saying thank you to the clerk at Trader Joe’s, or dancing in front of a crowd of people, makes me think I helped to give my son a little more freedom than most. I used to think he was my greatest masterpiece but now I realize he’s really his own. I just gave him a brush or two, he supplied the paint.
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Why Michael Jackson Was Famous
by David Carus
Once in a while an artist comes along that changes everything. Michael Jackson was that kind of artist. His influence on popular culture continues to resonate and his legacy is as rock solid as they come. People will be talking about Michael Jackson for generations; but why? What was he able to do that set him apart? How did he go from intensely shy to the greatest entertainer in the world? He was so famous he couldn’t walk the streets of any country without people recognizing him. How did he do it? His story may surprise you.
Most people look at someone with talent and say things like, “He’s a natural,” or “He was born with that talent,” and in the case of Michael Jackson you’d be tempted to say these kinds of things. However, there is no talent gene or magic dust sprinkled on a few lucky folks. When you see talent, know that it is the result of practice alone, and in the case of Michael Jackson he had lots and lots of practice. He not only had to work hard to sing and dance like he did, but he had to fight his way in from a very young age. Many people remember he got his start performing with his brothers in the Jackson 5, but he was never supposed to be in the group. His older brothers wanted to form a band and make music and when young Michael came into their bedroom, they’d kick him out. He was too young, just a kid. But he kept knocking on the door and eventually he became part of the group when they heard him sing. He had music around him his whole life. His father was a musician and his tight knit family always had music around and he’d been listening and learning.
The Jackson 5 didn’t explode onto the national scene right away. They performed lots of shows, practiced to get better and worked hard to get signed to Motown Records. Once there, Michael Jackson became surrounded by musical greats like Diana Ross, James Brown, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and others who all influenced him. As a child he got a priceless education, recording and performing during one of music’s greatest eras. His career wasn’t founded on natural born talent or luck, it was the result of study, practice and hard work. And what makes it even more incredible is the fact that Michael Jackson was one of the shyest people you’d ever meet. He’d spend so many hours practicing that by the time he went on stage he completely owned it, exuding tons of confidence.
Michael Jackson achieved great success performing with his brothers but no one could have foreseen just how successful his solo career would be. One of the key factors in his success, aside from the hours he devoted to his craft, was writing his own material and consciously creating his image. Michael Jackson and his brothers had been restricted at Motown. They were told which songs to record and never got the chance to produce their own music. By the time Michael went on his own, he believed in his ability to write songs and determine the course of his career. He was the one that chose to work with Quincy Jones and from his first album “Off The Wall,” music would never be the same again. The follow-up “Thriller” would sweep the Grammy’s and go on to sell more copies than any album ever had. He went on to dominate music and change its entire landscape.
How was this achieved? Michael Jackson had a vision. He knew what he wanted to create and all those years of hard work and practice paid off. This didn’t mean now he then coasted and took it easy. He worked even harder, spending countless hours recording and performing to give the world what we now know as Michael Jackson. This image was his total creation. From the fedora hats and sparkling glove to the groundbreaking videos and moonwalk, Michael Jackson knew what he wanted and made it happen. There were no favors, no back room dealings, no luck, no connections, just 100% working on art. Michael Jackson chose to be an artist and achieved such phenomenal fame because he dreamed more, imagined better, worked harder and practiced longer than most people dare to do. The next time you watch him effortlessly glide across a dance floor understand all of the effort that went into making it happen. There’s no reason you can’t moonwalk like Michael Jackson. You just need to practice.
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by David Carus
If someone is not an artist they might think success as an artist works like this: you’re born with talent and it secretly waits to pop its head one day when, quite through accident, you find yourself performing or creating art and there’s a talent scout watching who rushes to meet you backstage, whips out a million dollar contract and sweeps you away to Hollywood and you wake up to your picture on the front page of every major newspaper in the world. That’s pretty much the idea of overnight success, right? Wrong. It’s time to reveal the actual secret to overnight success by looking at a couple of artists that actually had the world’s attention, seemingly overnight.
Man can fly, but that wasn’t always the case. At the start of the 20th century there were plenty of ambitious minds tackling the problem of flight, but the general public thought man would be limited to traveling by land or sea and laughed at the funny looking contraptions they saw being tested on the tops of hills. The Wright Brothers came along and changed the whole game. What did they do differently than everybody else? They not only took the road less traveled, they ditched roads all together. Like Doc Brown said in “Back to the Future II,” “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” Their story is truly inspiring.
Wilbur and Orville Wright’s father gave them a toy helicopter when they were younger. It was made from paper, bamboo, cork and a rubber band and the boys played with it until it broke but they figured out how to build their own, sparking an early interest in aviation. Wilbur Wright was an athletic guy with plans to go to Yale University when a hockey stick knocked out his front teeth, causing him to withdraw from people. Instead of college, he stayed indoors caring for his terminally ill mother, and considered himself lacking in ambition. However, while at home caring for his mother, he began studying aviation. Orville Wright had dropped out of high school to open up a printing business, using a printing press designed and built with Wilbur’s help. When bicycles became a national craze, the brothers decided to open up a bicycle shop, designing and building their own bicycles.
Up until this time there had been many attempts to build a flying machine but no one in the world had solved all of the pieces to the puzzle. The Wright Brothers decided to tackle the problem and used money from their bicycle business to fund their experiments. They used some of what they’d learned building bicycles and applied it to flying. While everyone else was focused on stability, the Wright Brothers knew the real problem was steering. They understood an airplane in the sky wouldn’t handle like a boat in the water. Their grasp of bicycle design helped them find a steering solution. And another breakthrough came when they abandoned using the aeronautical data of one of their biggest inspirations, the German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal. Realizing his data was incorrect, the Wright brothers decided to start from scratch to discover the correct formulas behind wing design. After more than a decade of experiments, filled with failures, injuries and plenty of self-doubt, on December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers flew the world’s first, truly working airplane. Were there swarms of reporters watching the historical moment? No, there was only one other person there, a guy Wilbur found to take photographs of the flights and the film wasn’t even developed until the brothers returned home to Ohio. The world eventually found out but it was an overnight success that had taken well over a decade to create; longer if you count the toy helicopter.
The airplane was the result of years of study, experimentation, hard work and thinking outside the box. For a couple of guys without college degrees or even high school diplomas, all they needed was to keep pushing through the barriers, ignore the limitations and focus on their dream, so fragile that the whole world didn’t think it possible. The next time you’re watching a famous artist or creator on TV and thinking of yourself as a failure for not being there yet, remember the story of two brothers who spent years of getting it wrong until they finally got it right. Imagine them pushing their flying machine made of canvas and wood into the wind until it was conquered, seeing their masterpiece soaring above the world. Overnight success is great, but not as great as the everyday success of chasing your dreams. The pleasure is in the doing, not the having, so get out there and do whatever you gotta do because that’s the secret to flying.
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Marketing is an ART Too!
by David Carus
For many artists the idea of marketing means acting like a used car salesman, hounding people with annoying pleas to “come on down and look at what I got!” They wouldn’t be alone because there are plenty of people that have this viewpoint from so many salesmen not treating their profession as an artist might. I’m here to tell you that the used car salesman model doesn’t work and isn’t what anyone should be doing, not even used car salesmen. When done right, marketing is an art.
Marketing is more than just selling. There are many parts to it. Think of it like a big machine, ironically, like a car. You have your wheels, tires, body, frame, brakes, engine, windows, etc. The machine called marketing basically has these parts: the thinking up of an idea for something, the making of it, the distributing of it, the packaging of it, how people perceive and discover it and how they go spread the word about it. It includes things like selling and advertising too.
Once you know that marketing is not just putting up a sign or shouting at passers by, but an overall big picture of how you get a product from being a lightbulb over your head to getting it into the hands of lots of people, you can now move forward with some success. You’re probably already doing some marketing but in order to really take flight as an artist you’re going to have to be an artist at marketing too.
Let’s take a look at an example of successful marketing. Apple. They gave us the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and are easily one of the biggest companies in the world. Why? They are artists at marketing. They created a concept for a product no one even knew they wanted. How could anyone imagine being able to carry thousands of songs on one small device called an iPod? We were used to portable CD players and thought we were hot stuff if our CD player had anti-skip protection! Apple came up with an amazing idea and then rolled out a marketing campaign that captured the idea. Remember those great ads of black silhouettes over colorful backgrounds rocking out, earphones swinging? The iPod was fun, creative and something new. People had to have it and it spread by word of mouth too. But there was also the packaging. Have you ever walked into an Apple store? It’s nice being in there isn’t it? From the sleek look to the workers in blue t-shirts to the way the packaging feels when you hold it. Apple has made the entire experience of being a customer of their products into something amazing. That takes skill and those guys are true artists.
You might say, “well Apple is a big corporation, they can afford to hire professional advertising agencies and designers, but what can I do?” They are a big company but they started as two guys in a garage. Walt Disney was a struggling artist trying to break into a new field called animation and started by reading one book on the subject. Today the Walt Disney Company is the largest entertainment company on Earth. My point is that everyone starts somewhere. So don’t feel limited. Feel empowered with the possibilities of what you can create and how you can create it.
You probably already know what kind of artist you are. You might be a fine artist or a novelist or a singer-songwriter but no matter what kind of artist you are you need to master the art of marketing. Hell, there was even a very famous car salesman that you could easily call an artist of marketing. What he’d do was simple, brilliant and got him the Guinness World Record for number of cars sold. Whenever someone would find their way to his car lot he would always remember to write down their name, address and birthday, then, like clockwork on their birthday he’d send them a birthday card. It got to be a major production where he’d send out thousands of birthday cards, but people loved them! He might not sell them a car right away but they’d always remember him and eventually they’d buy from him or refer a friend when the subject of buying a car came up in conversation. Why wouldn’t he get their business? He did something no one else was doing. Often, people don’t remember to give birthday cards to their family or friends and here he was sending a card year after year. He turned the idea of a used car salesman from the guy to avoid to the guy that always sends you a birthday card. Think about what you could do with one simple marketing action.
When it comes to marketing your art, the sky is the limit and it’s one big empty canvas for you to paint into a masterpiece. The internet makes it even easier to market your work. You now have the ability to reach millions overnight with the right work or message behind you. You must treat marketing like an art because it is. You have to continually work at it to get better. Over time your skills will improve until you have an assembly line of masterpieces being pumped out.
Tackle the marketing of your art as an extension of the art itself, not even because you want it to sell, but because there is further pleasure to be had creating in the field of marketing. Steve Jobs took an interest in not only building iPods but in building stores. Walt Disney looked beyond his movies and envisioned theme parks where parents could bring their kids.
Look beyond the empty canvas sitting on your easel as your only form of art to create at. Talk a walk outside and try imagining what the world will look like as you market your art in it. The ways are as limitless as your canvas at home because the canvas of the world is so much bigger. Get those lightbulbs glowing and start flinging that paint!
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I recently decided to ask the following question to all of my artist friends: “What's the one thing that stops you the most from being a successful artist?” I got back more than a hundred responses and I was actually surprised to discover that one answer was overwhelmingly at the top: lack of confidence. It was so popular that it more than doubled the number two answer. I was surprised for two reasons, one, I consider myself confident when it comes to being an artist and two, I consider artists extremely talented and skilled individuals, which should make them automatically confident, right? Well I quickly realized having confidence is something lots of people struggle with and artists more than anybody, and here’s why:
Simply, artists have to communicate their ideas but other people not so much. Artists put themselves out there (with their heart and soul embodied in their work) and when you do that it’s like waving a big sign that says, “Hey everybody! Look at me! I’ve created something new!” We live in a world where too many people are comfortable and don’t want the boat rocked and here you come with your art, rocking it! Anytime they see an artist you’re reminding them of what they should be doing: creating! So what happens next? “Oh, that’s nice.” “I had a friend that tried doing that.” “Is that what you do for a living?” “What’s your real job?” “Well, that’s nice.” “Good luck with it.” There’s this inescapable tenseness that travels from them to you leaving the thought, “I should keep practicing because maybe I’m not good enough yet.” Let me tell you something. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
Why? Because no matter how bad you might think your art is, at least you’re making it. All of the people you’re worried about pleasing probably aren’t artists and if they are they’re probably not making much art. Here you come with your finished piece of art. There they are without one. Luckily, they don’t have to matter much because there are plenty of people that support artists. If that wasn’t true then you wouldn’t be able to watch a movie, listen to an album or read a book. There are millions if not billions of people on this planet right now that support artists and the art they make. You just have to weed out the ones that don’t by standing strong, flourishing and prospering in the face of opposition. You just have to keep lifting up, extending out and presenting your art to people. No matter what. Don’t let one hater prevent all that will love it later.
Finally, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You don’t have to be Bob Dylan the moment you pick up a guitar. So you’re not Hemingway yet and they haven’t put a Nobel Prize around your neck, who cares? Know that you’re always going to make the best art you can, so why beat yourself up over it? The real reason any of those haters or critics can set you on fire is because you’ve got some small pile of firewood laid out somewhere inside you. Guess what? You don’t have to be society’s idea of what a successful artist is, you just have to be YOUR idea of what a successful artist is. As long as you can do that you won’t have any problem walking up to somebody and showing them what you made. Be confident knowing you’re doing something most people can’t and every time you do it you’re getting even better at it. Build confidence like you’d build a house, one brick at a time. And there’s no reason you can’t be a skyscraper.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.