"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626


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Monday, 15 February 2010

The (hesitant) Art of Shameless Self Promotion

I have mentioned Alyson Stanfield’s excellent Art Biz blog before. Last week, on a particularly bleak morning when nothing seemed to be going right, when, in the face of grim political, economic, humanitarian news, all artistic endeavours seems either pointless or fruitless, her latest blog post arrived.

“Sharing your art and ideas through shameless self-promotion”

It’s worth a read for any shrinking violets who hate the very notion of publicity in any way, shape or form. I am one.  It also came on a day when something very nice happened. It looks like my small bee exhibition in London will go ahead. So, what do I do??? Instead of dancing round the room and ringing up all my friends with delight I am filled with misgivings.

It’s a natural feeling for me, a complete and utter fear of failure, of letting people down, of not being up to the task, of suffering sniping remarks if a brushstroke is out of place and, worst of all, of the accusation of being “above myself”! I was brought up not to blow my own trumpet, to be modest and not push myself forward, that combined with the severest “inner critic” imaginable makes any sort of self promotion sheer agony.  

Robert Genn in his excellent Painters Keys also had a recent post titled Fighting the After Show Blues. It revealed how not only is there a terrible dip after a show, (will I even make it that far??) but also how many artists would rather stick pins in their eyes than attend their own show openings. How I have always so admired those bold and brazen artists I see at some shows, with their easy, self confident self promotion and seemingly total faith in their own abilities!

So now with the more “certain probability” of an exhibition, this little demon of self promotion is one I have to face. After all what is the point of having an exhibition if nobody knows about it and nobody comes? I owe it to the venue at least to try and drum up some support. But how can I possibly drag myself out of my lovely cocoon of anonymity? Honestly, if I could wear an invisibility suit at all times, (especially in front of a mirror) I would be a very happy creature. But I do have to try. Both Alyson’s excellent article and the article she refers to “The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion” from Nathan Hangen’s blog have some good ways of thinking about self promotion.

My personal pledge!!

So, having read and inwardly digested all the info and advice I am, from today, declaring that I WILL TRY to promote this exhibition. I have been dragged, kicking, screaming, biting and scratching  to Facebook, Twitter and Linked In,  and I WILL TRY! I can do it by telling myself it is for the bees, which I am concerned about and have developed a huge affection for in my research and drawings. I can do it for the venue, and I can do it too for all my very faithful friends and blog supporters.

I have joined Twitter and WILL be tweeting my painting progress and agonies and bee stuff at least once a day. Funnily enough it all seems to coincide with Lent ..I wonder if forty days in the Twitter wilderness will have a profound effect on me and my bees.. who knows!..

Share your success!!

I will.. I will!! I am hopeless, I neglected to tell you that the wonderful  “Granta” magazine used my illustration of the tea plant seedling for their holiday mailer last year mailer, that a lovely lady in Oklahoma will be using the cottonwood leaf drawing for her candle business, that I have a commission for a big painting of a croton leaf from Jeff who also bought the croton watercolours, that a charity in the Uk has asked about the possibility of doing a bee book together, that Floria has used my wasp drawing for her doctorate poster (see below)  and that YES… I AM HAVING AN EXHBITION IN LONDON IN JUNE!!!!!!

..Phew .. bites nails … and has to lie down…

So over the next few weeks I will have a little footnote to my posts.. “Successes and Failures on the Road to the Show”.
Stay tuned my faithful blog readers…unashamed trumpet blowing in next post.

( It’s also coincidently “Clean Monday” today .. a  day for preparing for your good Lent resolutions and, for all those who like things astrological, Saturday apparently brought “The New Moon which begins a creativity cycle for you today as it highlights your 5th House of Self-Expression” so the portents are good.. I will be casting my runes later.. :)..)


norwegica said...

Phew.. After reading that I need a lie down haha. Go for it!

Dan said...

Wow an exhibition in London! Your work is amazing, and I'm sure your exhibition will be fantastic!
I'd love to give your exhibition a mention on my blog if that's OK with you??
Best wishes

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you both..its a nerve racking business sticking your head above the parapet!..
N.. the mail man still hasn't delivered package.. maybe bees held in customs.. it would not surprise me.
Dan.. thanks so much all help wildly and enthusiastically accepted

Gabrielle said...

Congratulations on all of this wonderful news but oh Val, I hear your pain!!! Being plagued with self-doubt and not wanting to be one of those pompous "Artistes" is a nasty combination when one must self-promote. Hang in there. Your work is most certainly good enough.

I am so sad that I won't be able to see your exhibit in London. Where is it being held?

Kit said...

Very well said -- your inner conversation echoes within every artist who struggles to get work "out there." Congratulations on your show! Your work is amazing. I look forward to browsing through your archives.