Share Some More. For Real This Time.
So, one time, I was talking to this other artist who'd become wonderfully successful. This person did really great work and I was wondering what their secret was other than having great work. It seemed like sourcing funding was a big part of their success. At the time I didn't know much about finding my own funding and such things were foreign to me. As most of us artists have probably said at some point in time to each other longingly: “I wish I’d been taught grant writing in school…”
That Razzamatazz That You Do So Well.
So, I said (to this artist who was also someone I felt was a friend): "How do you do that grant and funding razzamatazz that you do so well?" (Nah, I didn't really say 'razzamatazz' but how can I pass up using that word?) So I asked what I believed was a relatively benign question. I was blown away by their response. Want to know what their response was? Dead air. Blank space. Silence. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Rien. And I quote: “I just look around.” That was all I got. So I pushed a little for more detail and still I got nothing.
Keep in mind, I didn’t ask this other artist to write a grant for me or hop onto Google and search on my behalf. None of that. I simply wanted a little direction. A smidgen of assistance. See, I had no idea where to start. Up to that point I’d felt that I was floating out in the middle of the great huge ocean that is being a ‘professional artist’. Deciding that you are going to be a professional artist is a frightening enough choice, but to then have a friend ignore a plea (a really desperate one) for help. I was heartbroken…and I was also confused.
Friend or Fear?
Why would my friend not want to help me? As pitiful as it sounds, that is exactly what I asked myself. Just add tears (I’m really sensitive.). It took me a little while to figure it out, but eventually I did. Sadly, after that initial experience, I ran into other artists who exuded the same sentiment: fear. The fear that there isn’t enough to go around is pervasive within the arts community. It stops us from sharing with other artists. There won’t be enough money. Someone is going to take my spot at the show. The judges might think their work is better than mine. I don’t need the competition. All excuses. Fear is an ugly, horrible, corrosive beast (check out my other posting What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid). Don’t get me wrong; I understand where the fear comes from. It can be tough to be an artist and earn a living; not to mention lots and lots of work. Every break you get helps. And I agree that resources are finite. I’m also not saying that my work is so fabulous that it strikes fear into the hearts of other artists, I’m just saying this person would’ve been afraid to share their experience and golden information with anyone.
All The Cool Kids Are Sharing.
If you decide not to help a fellow artist here's what you miss:
- You miss the opportunity to mentor someone.
- You miss the opportunity from stopping someone from going through the same pain and anguish you had to go through to learn your lesson.
- You miss the opportunity to create a sense of community among artists.
- You miss out on the opportunity to be nice and helpful.
So share. Then share some more. I’m not saying become a Wiki for someone trying to bleed you dry of all your knowledge. Sharing should be a two-way street. Just don’t be afraid to help someone obviously in need. You will feel better when you share even just a little bit. Promise.
I'd be interested to hear what you think.