Tag: artists

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From Fan to Artist

Your taste defines who you are. I admire people that have interesting tastes in art, fashion, books, and music.

But I really admire people that attempt to recreate their tastes.

For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making is not that good. But your taste—the force that drives creative people to do what they do—“is still killer.”

Ira Glass

The fun only begins when you're recreating the art you enjoy. Naturally you're going to suck in the beginning. But all great artists struggle in the beginning.

All you're trying to do is prove that you too can make cool stuff, not just collect and consume it.

Emulation may be the highest form of fattery, but you can't just clone someone else's work and call it your own. Once you master the fundamentals, you need to individualize your work. Otherwise, what's going to make your work stand out from the ones that came before it?

Creativity is a process of copying and personal expression. Your output is ultimately an opinion of how you see the world.

You need to be able to express your ideas. So find a way to get your thoughts out there so you have experience articulating and defending a point of view, because that’s what design ultimately is; a point of view.

Jeffrey Zeldman

You already know what's good. All artists were too once fans. Now you just need to stake your claim by doing the work yourself.

Art is not something you do at the end of your career.

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These are some things I just assume are Internet habits:

  • Images that get tweeted natively on the Twitter platform aren’t good enough for Instagram.
  • Facebook is intentionally boring and useful to keep you coming back. 
  • People see your Tweets but don’t always respond either because they’re busy, lazy, or can’t generate a countering thought.  
  • It’s easy to see when other people steal your ideas for their own work and don’t give you a hat tip. 
  • Those that publish something digitally every day in the morning (blog post, tweet, etc) are generally successful. 
  • Those that track their workout habits are incentivized to workout more. 
  • Soccer (football) fans are religious about their sport online and off.  
  • Minimalists hoard digital items but collect very few physical things. 
  • Most bloggers lack originality.  Tech bloggers all write about the same things using different words.  Creative bloggers post the same images.
  • The medium is the message.  Twitter forces people to think in brevity.  An Instagram is the best status post. 
  • The majority of people still don’t know how to use RSS feeds effectively.  
  • Smart people still read books, digital or physical, because they long for paying attention to the story. 
  • Downloading music is old school.  No one wants to buy an extra hard drive. 
  • Older digital users want a stylus for tablets and smartphones and a keyboard.  Younger digital users have bad handwriting, can’t spell, and can type just as fast on touch screens. 
  • Emails are text messages. 
  • Online writers explain less because they can hyperlink out more.  
  • A tweet back/retweet from a celebrity is the new autograph.  
  • Facebook is still slow on mobile despite the recent upgrade. 
  • Foursquare users aren’t going away. 
  • On the whole, people just read headlines and forget the details.  
  • Painters make unnecessary use of Instagram frames.
  • It’s hard to discover music on Spotify due to lack of catalog. 

Safe to assume?

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Forcing Artist Productivity in the Interconnected Era

There's an expectation today that artists must produce faster and release more content to stay relevant.

If you're an author, you need to write 2 books a year instead of one and maybe a manifesto or novella on top of that. If you're a musician, you're expected to make an album, an EP, and drop a couple Internet singles in a year. The relentless demand for productivity goes on.

Daily communication via Twitter is another demand on artists. Fans want to interact and get the inside scoop. Some writers like Seth Godin maintain a daily blog to keep fans entertained.

Today fear drives an artist's work. If an artist stays silent too long the risk is irrelevancy. There's always new authors and endless forms of Internet entertainment that will make people forget. Artists are also competing with amafessionals that release stuff for free. And some of the content is pretty good.

Art is judged on productivity. There's simply too much noise to be the old fashioned reclusive artist that ships once every decade. There will always be respect for scarcity and quality for masterpieces but artists must have some type of other presence whether it's blogging or on Tweets. It comes down to this: Hyper-productivity keeps an artist relevant so fans and new followers will buy more stuff.