Note that this is going to be an awkwardly personal post. If you just read this blog for trees and mandalas and photography, wait for the next one.
Selection Bias Is Hell
First, there was this, on Twitter:
and my response after a lot of wrangling to fit in 140 characters:
9thcircledesign: re @UrsulaV on website redesign as self-reinvention: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. This is why mine is still terrible; “I am legion” is not a niche.
Reader, she ‘liked’ that tweet.
Second, the fine folks at First Five Things (disclaimer, they are friends as well) made a long post on the topic of “you don’t need a niche (in the sense of a marketing demographic that you’re trying to reach), you need to discover and set out who you are, and the people who want that are your demographic”. Hopefully, they’ll correct me if I’m mangling the summary too badly, but in the meantime it’s worth a read.
Third, when I was in the middle of me trying to write this post, I took a break to look at the social medias and Tina McCarty, an artist friend of mine, had linked to an article entitled Be The Artist You Are. Short. Read it.
Which Is to Say, I Like Waffles
Surely the connecting theme here is obvious, but it’s a blog so I will belabor the point … after I take a break to look at cat memes because this is hard to write.
I am again busily waffling about how to define this Who I Am Especially In Terms Of My Production (which is currently Art, but what kind of art is varying still and before that it was flash fiction and before that it was management and before that it was being tech support and before that it was being a computer programmer and …).
If I want to be really objective about it, I’d say that I’m clearly still in the early part of my development as an artist and really I should be focusing on learning the skills and techniques and that it’s ok to try all sorts of different arts and see where my art goes in the long run. You know, the whole thing about mastery being the result of the ten thousand
Which would be great if I were in my early 20s and in college still and all that. Or if I had a day job and came home to a quiet house and could just quit watching so much TV and take up painting instead (this is a joke, I rarely watch TV). Or if I were retired and so had all the time to do whatever I wanted.
Instead, I’m a stay-at-home parent to a toddler who will not leave me alone and whose presence utterly short-circuits my ability to focus and drains my energy. I can’t get writing or programming or art done except when said toddler is asleep and I’ve managed to recharge even a little and the other responsibilities I have aren’t on fire.
Instead, I find myself in the position of not needing to make my art pay the rent or buy the food, but to buy the time to do the art. To learn the art. To find the me I want to share with the world.
No Pithy Conclusion
I find myself deeply sympathetic with the concept of “find your people by being you” instead of finding them by a carefully crafted demographic intended to min-max your profits.
I find myself unable to agree that “I am this one thing … until next week when I will be totally this other thing” is a way to “be you” that’s going to survive in the marketplace of things people buy.
I find myself unable to put in enough, consistent time to manage multiple authentic identities to separate out such diverse ways to “be you” in a way that I can buy the time to do the art to get better and maybe develop a coherent style and focus of art.
Ultimately, I know something needs to change, but no idea what or how. Ideas welcome.