They don't love you. Who cares? Love yourself.

This month, we are exploring how to develop online content about yourself and your work so that it is easy, and feels genuine and exciting to share your unique story as as artist or creative entrepreneur with your ideal audience. We completely understand the feeling that marketing your own work can feel difficult, uncomfortable, and well... icky. We are artists, too, and we understand that hesitation. Over time, we have helped ourselves and other artists realize that it really shouldn't feel uncomfortable because a) you are sharing your work, which is interesting and inherently unique b) you don't have to be "salesy" to be heard and c) if you care, then others will, too.

Last month, Andrea got the chance to be in the audience for an intimate Q+A with artist Mark Bradford, who recently installed a beautiful show at the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY. He had worked on a collaborative mural project with local high school students and was fielding questions about his practice after a talk that chronicled his path into the art world. A father in the audience asked him how he could guide his daughter to be a successful artist, since he had the understanding that most artists could not make a living from their work. Mark Bradford answered generously. He said that, yes, he had achieved a high level of fame and success as a visual contemporary artist, but even if he hadn't, he would still be an artist. He would still be an artist even if he was still working at the beauty shop where he worked after finishing his MFA at Cal Arts. He would still feel successful as an artist because it was what he had to do. At the end of the day, it didn't matter to him what accolades he received because he loved himself enough as an artist and identified with that role. "They [the art world] don't love you. Who cares. Love yourself."

A glimpse of a Mark Bradford piece at the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY, part of the exhibition  Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford.  Photo by Sara Jones.

A glimpse of a Mark Bradford piece at the Albright Knox in Buffalo, NY, part of the exhibition Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford. Photo by Sara Jones.

Bradford's answers struck a chord with me because he had simply and honestly told us why making art work was important to him and why he chose to start the foundation, Art + Practice, though it was not a traditional path of an artist to found a project that "encourages education and culture by providing life-skills training for foster youth in the 90008 ZIP code as well as free, museum-curated art exhibitions and moderated art lectures to the community of Leimert Park." He followed his gut, revealed his unique story as an artist, and no one was confused. We get it. We are inspired by it. We love his work.

The moral of this post is dual:

  • Clearly share what is important to you, what you are passionate about and what drives you. You will build an audience and a conversation around your work.
  • Stay tuned for future posts this month for practical ideas to share your unique story with the world through social media, your website and in person.

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