Lies Artists Believe: Location
One of the lies artists believe today is, “If only I lived in the right city like Los Angeles, New York or London, then I would make the right connections or get ‘discovered’.” What’s holding me back from success is where I live.
Big markets have big challenges. While it is true there is a tremendous increase in opportunities when you move to Los Angeles, New York or London, there is also a massive increase in competition and expenses. You may have the best voice or the prettiest face in your town, but in these major markets, pretty faces, talented performers, filmmakers and great musicians are everywhere. Standing out is harder and harder. Too many creatives move to the big markets only to be consumed by finding a day job to pay the rent and never get a leg up on their creative career.
The opportunity to be found is not walking the streets of New York and London or waiting tables in Los Angeles while you scrape by enough money for rent. So many people are convinced the only way to be successful is through pursuing it in a major market. But the reality is success and opportunity can also be found in large measure online.
Justin Bieber is probably the biggest and earliest example of this. He was discovered because of his YouTube videos people loved. Did he then move to a major market to continue his career? Yes, he did. But today there are countless examples of artists and creatives in all types of genres of art and entertainment that are successful in making a living all over the globe thanks to the internet. So the lesson here is, put your art out there! If the work is solid and there is a market for it, agents and managers will find you because they can help both of you make money.
This is true for all artists. It doesn’t matter if you are a visual artist, a musician, an actor or a producer. If you have something to say to the culture right now that resonates, and the talent to make it happen, the opportunities will come. It doesn’t matter if it is a great short film, great cinematography, writing a novel or a new dance concept.
What Will Set You Apart?
The first barrier to entry is quality of your craft. It should be obvious, but if you aren’t ready to compete in the top markets, don’t. Don’t give someone a demo reel that isn’t finished, or video that hasn’t been edited. Present only your polished, and finished project so your audience, your agent and your manager perceive you as someone who always produces a top-level production.
Level of Creativity
The second barrier is your level of creativity. Originality is the mark. You cannot be copying other artists, or copying and pasting your old work. It doesn’t matter whether it is visual art, music, film, or video games. If it isn’t from the heart, fueled by new ideas to speak to the audience in a fresh way, it simply won’t last. God gave you a gift, to say something unique that only you can say, and to express in a unique way what you can contribute.
The third barrier to success is your work ethic. This is a term that came from the Puritan view of work. If God gave us these talents, and we want to honor God with these gifts, then it is slothful and unethical to be lazy with the gifts God has given you. Thus, the term work ethic means you take it seriously, and implies that to fail to take it seriously in God’s eyes is unethical.
If you can’t write the script in time for the deadline, or write the music for the TV show when they need it, it doesn’t matter how gifted you are. People are counting on the deadlines and often cannot wait “for inspiration to arrive.” You need to have more than one song, one story or one work of art. You need to have a well of ideas to draw from, the skill to keep adapting, and the work ethic to meet the demands of those who hire you.
Stop Making Excuses
Our mind is always telling us stories, rationalizing our decisions and making excuses that will help us feel better about what we didn’t do. This is the problem with the lies artists believe. You need to take a minute and challenge your own heart and mind to be honest. It does no one any good to believe the lies we tell ourselves. It stunts our growth and hampers our witness.
If the quality isn’t there, put in the time and hard work to fix it. Take lessons, and get honest and thorough feedback by real experts in your field. I remember in college taking my tenor sax “to the woodshed” to play for hours every day just to master new scales, modes, and techniques. There is no substitute for the hard work.
Stimulate Your Creativity
If the creativity and originality isn’t there, then go get inspiration from other artists – go to a museum, watch movies you don’t usually watch and listen to music genres you don’t usually listen to. Get inspired and get ideas from all the other artists that are alive and those who have already passed away. Create a new habit of stimulating your creativity.
If the work ethic isn’t there, it is time to be honest and ask yourself if you are truly willing to change and put in the hard work. Some people may have talent and creativity but they just don’t love the work enough to put in the needed hours every week. They get bored, or lose interest. If that is you, don’t pursue it as a career. Find something else to do that fits your abilities and passions.
If you have the quality, originality and the work ethic, then what you really need is the business side of your craft. My wife teaches this in her Catalyst Course, and we have found that every artist needs to fine tune their business and entrepreneurial skills. This includes capitalizing on Social Media, YouTube, and the networking events in your industry.
Markets are changing, and if we do not adapt to them we will miss out on wonderful opportunities – musicians can sell music online for video productions, visual artists can market their works online directly to homes all over the world, and writers can self-publish their own works and skip the middle man.
Nearly every creative market has changed, and the time to adapt is now. So don’t make excuses. Make progress. Don’t accept the lie that you are held back by where you live. Move forward in confidence, capitalizing on what you have access to.
There may be times you need to travel to the big markets and major industry events for your craft, but do this wisely and shrewdly. Don’t move to L.A. or NY just hoping to be discovered. If you need to go to the big markets, do so when you are ready and have a plan. Make your art fantastic, and learn how to build a business from that craft. If you really need help in this area, check out our Catalyst Online Course designed for artists to develop their skill as entrepreneurs.
Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.