Saturday, April 5, 2014

AN ARTIST NEEDS A MANAGER LIKE A WRITER NEEDS A MARKETER

 
It’s not easy being an artist today. First of all, there’s way too many critics out there. It can all but paralyze a sensitive artist—to the point where you fear creating anything knowing how your art (and you as an artist) will be judged, assessed, analyzed, critiqued, chewed up and spit out.

I’ve always felt art should be only be judged in one simple way, it either appeals to you or not. No further explanation necessary. You like it or you don’t. And if you don’t, chances are still quite good somebody else will. It may have no redeeming social value at all, it may even demean and devalue the rich heritage of artistic expression since the dawn of mankind, but to someone else it may still have value.

To the artist who is experimenting with their form, learning and honing their craft, it may be the very step that takes them to the next level. Why break an artist’s spirit when they’re just beginning to find their place in the field they’ve chosen?

 

 

For an artist, it’s like having a baby and then hearing that your baby is ugly, stupid, or has little redeeming value. Or worse, what if everyone praises your baby as the most beautiful, amazing child they’ve ever seen. You might bask in the glow of that glory, but really, how much did it have to do with YOU? A work of artistic expression, like a baby, is made up of a number of factors, many of which may be out of the artist’s hands. As well, what happens when you try to follow it up with a second, third, or fourth “child.” The pressure to continually improve upon the last is quite heavy, even overpowering.

Then there are those who long more to become a) famous and/or b) rich. Artists, real artists, shouldn’t focus on either. An artist should simply focus on their art. Express what you want to express and if anyone else likes it so much the better, if not, that shouldn’t be the point.

That’s where it would help every artist to have a manager.

Even an artist doesn’t necessarily have to starve. There should be someone in every artist’s corner to cheer them up when a show doesn’t go so well, or to bring them down to earth when things are going perhaps a little too well. So often, talented people aren’t the best promoters of their own work, because, let’s face it, self-promotion is a fine-line. An artist promoting their work is a little like a sideshow barker promoting himself. An artist needs someone to promote for them.

 
While we’re at, why not have someone do all your marketing for you, while you as an artist create?

With all the self-publishing going on these days online, many writers have had to become great marketers alongside being great writers. How can you do both well? Wouldn’t it be easier having someone else do your marketing for you—like publishing houses used to do for writers?

It’s a tough road for artists, writers, performers, producers, directors of all kinds, but it’s also a fascinating time right now. With online promotion you have all sorts of opportunities for pretty much free marketing of your art. However, the time you have to spend marketing and managing your artistic career takes away from the time you have to actually make…your…art.

For me, I’ve stalled many of my artistic endeavours because of the pressures an artist faces. I think I’m too sensitive to critics, and don’t yet feel entirely comfortable with self-promotion. I’m trying to toughen up, whilst finding the courage to put my work out there, but it’s a gradual process for me. Very gradual in fact. For decades I suffered from stage fright—couldn’t do any performing. Now at least I’m over that to a great degree, but it’s the other side of the artistic business that I still find difficult, that is managing and marketing myself as an artist.

I sometimes believe it’s why I seek out more teaching opportunities, because I’m not sure I can hack the artistic life. It’s a little like the old adage “those who can, do, those who can’t, teach.” I hate to think that relates to my struggles as a performer and writer, but sadly, I have to confess at this time, it probably does.

If you’re like me, out there still struggling to find your place in the artistic community, don’t give up. Keep trying. Do what you can, when you can. I hear it gets easier.   

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Were the Mayans Right About 2012?

Okay, I don't think the world is actually going to end this year, but here's what I do think: twelves don't seem to like me very much. 2012 has not been a great year for me, and I think for a lot of other people as well. Maybe it isn't a numbers thing, or a doom-and-gloom kind of thing, but for whatever reason I for one am waaay looking forward to a better year in 2013.

I won't go into why it's been a lousy year for me--people really aren't excited to hear about anyone else's sob story--but suffice it to say this has probably been the second worst year of my life (right up there with the year my mom passed away when I was 14). It hasn't just been my health (which you could read about in a previous post), it's that darn near everything has gone wrong and that circumstances right now are pretty tough. I am grateful (don't get me wrong) for many things (repeat MANY things), but you also have to acknowledge the things that cause you difficulty--or else how honest with yourself and others are you being?

So it's been a difficult year, so what--we all have them. We try to get through them the best we can. I could have done better--tweeted less, been less annoying with my tweets, meditated more, found the time/energy to write more, whatever. But when you're really struggling just do the best you can, until you can do better. Don't linger or wallow in the pits, but don't feel guilty about feeling the pits either.

One thing about bad times is they can teach you a whole lot. It's like an intense, condensed lesson in things like patience, compassion, resiliency, and hope. It's also taught me to embrace my inner curmudgeon. I can, at times, be too much of an optimist, too annoyingly cheerful, laid-back or worst of all--nice. I now feel safe with sharing my grumpiness from time to time with others. Being grumpy isn't being mean or rude or hateful, it's just showing displeasure with the state of things. It's a natural reaction which can be a positive catalyst to change, especially social change. Think about all the people using social media to voice their frustration with what is wrong in the world, in order to make the world better. Besides it's also quite cute and funny in a way--as long as one is not so grumpy as to lose their sense of humour. Being able to laugh at oneself, even while being grumpy (or as I call it "curmudgey"), is still preferable to taking yourself oh so seriously all the time.

So for me and others who have not had the best of times with 2012, we can't wait to kick this year in the ass and say "Welcome 2013." For others though, 2012 may be going great and they may not want it to end. I think the Mayans were right in one thing: life is a series of cycles for everyone, it just depends where you are in that cycle, and when one cycle ends another begins. But wherever you are in the cycle of life be aware that it will change. Learn from the bad times and enjoy the good times, but never lose your compassion for those going through the bad times. Because you'll be there yourself sometime and you'll need a little compassion from others when you are.

I tend to think of cycles in terms of the Medicine Wheel. In many First Nations' teachings the Medicine Wheel represents several ideas (all cyclical), like the four directions (east, south, west, north), the four stages of life (child, youth, adult, elder), the four elements (fire, water, earth, air), the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter), etc.


We move along these phases, usually starting in the yellow section symbolizing childhood/east/fire/Spring, through the other phases. Sometimes we go back, like every year when we return to Spring again, or when we start a new job we may be an adult but feel somewhat like a child because there are many things we have to learn. But it is cyclical. A circle. The circle of life....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Decisions, Decisions or It's Not Easy Being a Grown-Up

It's Fringe Festival lottery time again, and this year I have left it to the very last minute to decide if I want to enter. Truth is I want to enter the lottery (I even know what I want to do), but life gets in the way sometimes of what we want to do. Responsibilities (i.e. bills), fears/worries, confusion--these things make decisions much more complicated than simply choosing to do what we want to. For instance, I could eat marshmallows for breakfast every day (really I could), but would that be a very wise decision?

I've never regretted any decision I've made, but I have paid for a few. Two years ago I made a very painful decision to leave a job. I don't regret my choice but it did cost me (financially and professionally). Did I learn from this experience? Absolutely. Every decision we make can teach us something. Sometimes something quite profound, about ourselves or life in general.

It isn't easy being a grown-up--having no one else make our decisions for us like our parents used to. We get to take the sole credit or blame for every good/bad choice we make. Still, when I want to eat marshmallows for breakfast and do, there's some rebellious kid in me that thinks "Hah. Look what I get to do cause I'm a grown-up!" Of course, my responsible side is all "That was a very poor choice--oatmeal would have been better for you."

So now I am left with this choice, to take a chance, face fear/worry (again), push myself to work harder and lunge into the possibility of another Fringe show. Or take the responsible way and wait until next December when the timing would likely be better and apply then.

As I write this, I still have not made up my mind. And the hours are ticking away. I have less than six hours to decide.

Marshmallows or oatmeal???


Monday, November 26, 2012

Be Patient and There’s No Time Like the Present: Opposing Philosophies?

I have to admit, I’ve never been a patient person. I’ve always got too many things I want to get done to sit around and let nature take its oftentimes slow, meandering course. If I see something I want to do and think I can do, I just do it.

Recently though I’ve had to learn much more about patience. You see, this summer I underwent some painful and rather worrisome surgery, and while the lump they removed did not turn out to be cancerous, there was a high probability that it could have been. Being told by a doctor you have a 75% chance of cancer is scary and makes you look at your life quite differently.

Recovery from this surgery has allowed me to experience for the first time what it’s like to be unable to do many of the simplest of things that we take for granted. Like eat, or sleep, or breathe, or talk. During my recovery just getting through the day being able to do these things felt like a very precious gift. Especially considering there was this ever-present worry about whether any of the biopsies I underwent would show cancer (I had three biopsies done during different stages of the surgical process and recovery).

That’s why I think a union of the two radically different philosophies of patience (waiting) and “no time like the present” (not waiting) makes perfect sense to me. One should be patient when one has to be, but still strive to get things done when one can. Because our Time is precious and it is finite. Yet we squander so much of it on trivial things (like watching TV, video games, blogging—wait what?). There will come a point when we feel we may run out of Time, and when we do we’d all like to feel like the Time we had was put to good use. That we accomplished things; that we said and did the things we needed to do and wanted to do. That we cared for the people in our lives as best we could.
So patience is important, but we still have to keep heading to shore—to that goal that seems so far away but really is only a matter of Time before we reach it. Because if you stop for too long, take too many naps perhaps, your ship could sink and then splash! Time just sunk your battleship. So get on with it—with whatever you’ve been putting off until tomorrow. Take a hold of your dreams, make them goals, break them into steps and then, one step at a time, reach your goal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fringe Fest is Here!

Hello fellow Fringers!

Today is the first day of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, the weather looks great, the shows look great, the people look...well, great! Okay, so I have to remember not to get too Fringed-out, so I've scheduled a couple days off, but mostly I'll be doing shows, seeing shows (I have my Fringe pass booked), checking out the noon-hour and daily outdoor entertainment, the food vendors, the Exchange shops, cafes, pubs, and of course the beer tent.


I'm looking forward to meeting many of my fellow Fringers in my travels--to hear the latest about how your shows are going, or what shows you recommend, etc.

Today is the first of my Fringe performances of "Cat Ladies, Cougars, & Crones (oh my!)." Show starts at 8:15 p.m. at Venue 5 Son of Warehouse. I'm very proud of my little "Fringe baby" and I hope you stop by and check it out.

Performance and ticket info can be found here:
http://www.winnipegfringe.com/2011-Fringe/fr_perflist.aspx

Remember to stay after and say hello.

Happy Fringing everyone!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Little Bit of Shameless Self Promotion

Fringe Fest would not be Fringe Fest without the Jenny Revue.

Here's my little bit of SSP that I just wrote up and sent in to help (hopefully) entice people to the show. (Cue the circus music. I can hear the carnival barker now):

 


Step right this way folks! Witness one actress portray ten characters in under one hour! Simple math will tell you it’s impossible, but no, wait…yes…it IS possible! Witness unbelievable acts of bravery (in a retirement home), jaw-dropping surprises (scandals, affairs, shocking!), hilariously-timed “burns” (sexy cougar vs. feisty cat lady—who will win?), nail-biting, on-the-edge of your seat…ah heck, it’s “interesting and funny,” “quite engaging,” and has “strong, interesting characters.” Do see for yourself…


"Cat Ladies, Cougars, & Crones (oh my!)"
Venue 5
Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival

Monday, June 13, 2011

Preliminary Reviews (Pre-Fringe)

The writing of "Cat Ladies, Cougars, & Crones (oh my)" began during training at Prairie Theatre Exchange in their Playwriting class (September 2010-April 2011). At the end of the course, the class had an excerpt of their play performed at a public reading on April 4, 2011.

Feedback forms were collected from the audience, and "Cat Ladies..." garnered the following responses:
  • When asked if they would like to see the full play, 88% responded Yes, with a great majority finding the dialogue both realistic and humorous.
Written responses included the following remarks:
  • Interesting and funny.
  • Quite engaging.
  • Serious conversation and in comedy. Good themes, so real.
  • Love the grandmother's dialogue.
  • Liked the tension build with Lisa and Nicole (characters) several times.
  • Strong, interesting characters.
Other comments and suggestions were also taken from this feedback and used to revise and hopefully improve upon the play.