The Artist’s Paradox

In a profession the place our job is actually to be inventive, generally the one factor you don’t get to be is… inventive.

As of two pm yesterday afternoon, I formally have three web sites. Really, if we’re getting tremendous technical about it, I’ve 4. Effectively, actually eight. There’s my “predominant” web site. Undecided if it truly is my predominant web site anymore. However, it’s by far the longest standing, the one with the most effective search engine marketing, and undoubtedly the one you’ll possible land on had been you to seek for me on Google. At its inception roughly 20 years in the past, that web site was an official place the place I might put my pictures portfolio as an alternative of my each day makes an attempt to overload Flickr. Effectively, “portfolio” may be a powerful time period for the positioning again then. Extra precisely it was a random meeting of regardless of the newest pictures had been that occurred to have handed by my digicam on my weekend photograph walkabouts. No specific rhyme of purpose. And, as my writing predates my pictures, the variety of lengthy paragraphs of prose on the positioning rivaled the variety of pictures, making it in all probability probably the most literate web site on the web. However not very efficient as a portfolio web site for a photographer.

Through the years as my ability, expertise, and credit score listing has grown, the “predominant” web site has grown as properly. It’s my flagship web site on the internet. It’s the one cease store for potential purchasers to get to know all I’ve to supply. After all, that comes with a catch.

I believe it’s honest to say that my “predominant” web site was at its most polished a couple of years in the past. I don’t imply when it comes to design or the standard of photos. I’m consistently updating the design of the positioning and, judging from my shopper’s feedback, it’s efficient in getting a response. What I imply by it being at its most polished a couple of years in the past, is that this was the interval when my model message was at its most clear. I started my profession as a screenwriter and director. That led to cinematography. However, there was a interval over the time span of the final couple a long time after I had left most of that behind and 100% of my focus went to nonetheless pictures. Greater than that, it went 100% to at least one particular kind of nonetheless pictures in a single particular market and in a single particular fashion. It wasn’t a increase time for creative danger. But it surely was a increase time for model readability. Each shopper that visited my web site knew precisely what they had been shopping for in the event that they employed me. And, as a result of I used to be solely targeted on a single area of interest, I knew precisely what to placed on my web site, my social channels, my enterprise playing cards, and every part else. This stage of synergy made advertising very simple.

If requested for recommendation, I nonetheless recommend that is the suitable plan of action for knowledgeable artist. Whereas it may be potential to be a generalist in smaller markets, if you’re dwelling in one of many bigger markets stuffed with overwhelming competitors, niching right down to one thing very particular is among the finest, maybe the one approach of differentiating your self from the competitors. It’s practically inconceivable to ascertain your self as simply the most effective “photographer” in a sea of photographers. However, the sector of photographers who solely shoot left-handed girls carrying blue sport coats is fairly slim. So, should you area of interest down, you give your self a selected pool by which to be the large fish. You may not get each job, there are right-handed girls carrying pink sport coats, in spite of everything. However you will be fairly certain that each job that comes up inside your area of interest is one the place your identify might be in consideration.

It takes quite a lot of self-discipline to have the ability to keep your concentrate on a extra restricted space. It took me years earlier than I lastly relented to the concept and niched down. Financially, it was among the finest strikes I ever made. Creatively? Effectively, that’s one other story.

When you’re maintaining rating at residence, you’ll have realized that pictures was solely my fourth creative profession. At the least chronologically talking. By way of prominence in my thoughts, it has wavered between first and fourth relying on if you ask the query. I completely like it. It’s simply that I additionally love different artforms as properly. For me, creating artwork is much less concerning the particular artform and extra about utilizing no matter skillset is best in telling the story I need to inform. Generally, that’s {a photograph}. Generally, that’s a film. Generally, that’s a business. Generally, that’s simply an article on-line. All of these actions present me equal enjoyment and I’ve been lucky to have achieved a sure stage of acclaim in every discipline. So selecting to disregard these different issues with a purpose to concentrate on a really particular area of interest was not a straightforward alternative. A profitable one, as I discussed. However, artistically talking, not straightforward.

I used to be in a position to sustain this razor sharp concentrate on one factor for years. Paradoxically, what lastly broke my resolve to remain inside a field was work itself. My purchasers started wanting not solely stills however for me to direct and shoot spots for them as properly. So, by necessity, my hiatus from filmmaking needed to finish in order that I might meet my purchasers’ wants. It didn’t take lengthy for me to do not forget that filmmaking was my old flame and, in actual fact, the very foundation for my stills. My mind and creativity was instantly overrun by filmmaking once more as I couldn’t combat again what was all the time my old flame regardless of my having submerged it in my psyche as I used to be constructing my nonetheless profession.

At first, opening these floodgates once more was a matter of sheer practicality. Shoppers requested X. I offered X. However, as a result of filmmaking has all the time been greater than only a job for me, I abruptly discovered myself once more accessing banks of creativity that I had for an extended interval shut off from use. Not solely did my abilities as a director come again, however as a result of my skillsets have all the time been so interdependent, I discovered my love of cinematography being woven increasingly more into my strategy as a nonetheless photographer. All of my abilities had been folding in on one another. I used to be reaching my peak as an artist, no matter class, as a result of I used to be lastly permitting myself to entry all components of my creativity moderately than limiting myself to a single area of interest. Briefly, it felt superb. And the variety of awards and bid requests that got here my approach informed me that purchasers had been recognizing this progress as properly.

Sounds superb, proper? Effectively, it was. And, it wasn’t. The creative progress I used to be experiencing was probably the most overwhelming of my profession. However, as a result of that progress got here because of quite a lot of experimentation and discovering myself as an artist, my new abilities and pursuits now not match so neatly into the restricted field I had put myself into with a purpose to construct my model within the market. The work on my predominant web site was unquestionably higher. But it surely was additionally much less targeted. Extra genres. Extra mixture of nonetheless and movement. Extra combine inside movement between business and narrative. I used to be loaded with nice new work and nice new recognition to brag about in entrance of purchasers. However my elevator pitch was going from a sentence to a novella. And it needed to change each time I met somebody new as a result of I didn’t know if a possible shopper was calling me for movie, business, or pictures. And inside pictures, had been they asking for the kind of stills I used to be recognized for, or the newer extra expressive stuff? My creative mind was clearer than ever. However my advertising message was turning into muddled.

That’s after I added web site two. The objective of the second web site was to separate my promoting pictures from my business directing. Sure, these two issues overlap as they each share most of the similar purchasers. However the person contacts inside these firms that rent for every are typically very totally different. An artwork producer hiring you to shoot a nonetheless marketing campaign “and add slightly movement” may be very totally different from the manufacturing firm in search of a director for his or her subsequent Tremendous Bowl marketing campaign. They’re in search of various things. They’ll search for various things after they arrive at your web site. And leaning an excessive amount of in a single course can oddly flip off potential purchasers who may be extra within the different. So, to that finish, whereas each web site one and two have most of the similar issues, the navigation by every separates the specialties a bit to tailor them to their particular viewers.

But, then I bumped into one other downside. As I discussed earlier, I come from a story filmmaking background. That is my old flame. Due to my profession as an promoting nonetheless photographer, my directing/cinematography work additionally extends to commercials. It’s a pure connection. However the producers who rent for commercials don’t give a hill of beans about my narrative work. And the producers and collaborators with whom I work on my narrative movies couldn’t care much less about my commercials. Moreover, I’ve often been penalized for achievement in a single discipline whereas attempting to get a job within the different. Industrial manufacturing firms that wouldn’t contemplate me as a result of they noticed me as a story filmmaker not devoted to commercials. Or narrative producers who simply noticed me as a business director and never somebody who might work within the narrative house.

So, you guessed it, I needed to create a 3rd web site only for the narrative world. When you add that to the plethora of different manufacturers/URLs that I’ve needed to create with a purpose to drive visitors to particular a part of my enterprise that may not rank the house web page of my predominant web site, and the momentary particular person undertaking based mostly web sites that I create for a restricted timespan to correspond to a selected undertaking, you’ll understand that I’m now sustaining and extremely numerous portfolio of internet sites. This doesn’t do wonders for my free time. However, it does assist to attract a delineation line between the assorted merchandise I provide and make it clear to purchasers that I’m, in actual fact, devoted to that particular space (versus simply having a pastime).

I understand I’m not alone on this. Many photographers with conflicting specialties have a number of websites. It’s the secret. However, I’m in all probability additionally not alone in wishing that the world was in a position to see an artist as merely that, an artist, moderately than needing to restrict ourselves to suit right into a neat description with a purpose to stand out. You’d suppose that it could be straightforward sufficient for a possible shopper to say, “Look, there’s Joe Smith, he does all these various things. And that’s nice as a result of he can do all these issues for us.” However, the reality of the matter is that the majority purchasers would have a look at Joe Smith and name him a jack of all trades, grasp of none. He may really be a grasp of all trades. However the market tends to solely give an artist credit score for one space at a time. And success in different areas can really harm, not assist, their possibilities of success.

I suppose that is the artist paradox. You place the effort and time into enhancing your abilities and being probably the most inventive particular person you will be. However really getting paid to your work usually requires you to reduce your ambition and match neatly right into a extra restricted field. Not that I’m complaining. I wouldn’t commerce my creative progress for something on this planet. And, even when it could be simpler from a advertising standpoint to revert to the artist I used to be a decade in the past with a purpose to have a cleaner model message, I can’t see any world the place I’d willingly put my newly rediscovered pursuits again into the bottle. It may be simpler financially. However, like most artists, I didn’t begin down this path only for the cash. I do, nonetheless, want there was a world the place one might merely have the title of “artist,” and the world might admire her or him for the breadth of their abilities as an alternative of the brevity of their elevator pitch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *