Creative Myth Busting: If You Build It They Will Come

A lot of so called experts are out there proffering advice for creatives trying to 'make it'. Like everything on the interwebs, some of that advice is good and some of it is bad. Here's one piece of advice some creatives who have already made it often give to those who want to make it:

Just concentrate on the work and success will follow. If you make good work you will be found ... If you build it they will come.

Perhaps this advice was valid two decades ago but even then I doubt it. Today it is misinformed advice that could stunt your progress. If you build it you are just 1 of millions of others who have built something. The noise to signal ratio in the modern world is massive and no one has time to sift through the whole of the web to find you. If your profile isn't high you will not be found; you will not get the gig; you will not rise to the top of the pile.

Creating the work is only half the job. The other half, I am sad to say, is self-promotion. It goes against everything I stand for but if you're not out there tweeting to tens of thousands of followers; if every picture you put on Flickr, or video you put on YouTube, or song you put on Soundcloud doesn't get thousands of hits you might not be failing as an artist but you will not 'make it'.

Put this advice down to sour grapes on my part at your peril. There are thousands of good photographers out there and there are a relatively few great ones. A lot of great photographers out there you have never heard of. A lot of OK photographers are web stars getting all the attention.

An artist needs an audience. Without an audience the work is masturbatory.  How you get that audience without selling out? That I cannot tell you. I still naively believe that an artists should make work that they themselves like but if you want an audience you must keep your viewer (or listener, or reader) in mind somewhat. How much you court that audience while you're making the work is up to you and your conscience but I'd recommend that you start trying to build that audience just as soon as you have the fundamentals of your craft down. If you wait you will be too late. 


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