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Artist Advice, Help, Encouragement

Sometimes I feel like the figure on the left.

A couple of days ago I posted a question about common decency on Instagram. Essentially, it was about people who don't reply after asking for your help. From a buyer's point of view, I kind of get it. It's a little like walking into a shop, seeing what is available, and wanting minimal interaction with the staff. If they don't have what you need or want, or it's too much, you move on. A little politeness wouldn't go amiss, but such is life.

My real bugbear is with the people who have asked me to look at their artwork, or social media profiles, (or both), and give feedback on how to improve/develop etc. Recently, I've had a few people plead for feedback, and then completely ignore my response. Now I can see that the response has been read, so I cannot use that hypothesis. So I can only assume that it either didn't resonate, wasn't the gold dust to elevate their career in fast track mode, or they were abducted half way through reading. I'm going to go with the middle answer.

And here's the thing. We live in an age of immediate gratification. Expedited expectations, where if we decide we are going to be something, then we are and should be entitled to all the kudos and opportunities that befall that life decision. Except life doesn't work like that. Instagram does - because at best, it makes the work look fast and fun. At worst, it makes life, projects, creativity etc look like it required no work whatsoever. And there is the vulnerable and naive part of every social media (SM) user which can allow us to envy, desire and abandon all sense of logic when it comes to considering how a person decides to depict and stage-manage their life.

This can tie people up in knots. SM is the private equivalent of staring - something we were all brought up not to do. Yet here we are, staring, judging, measuring and more. Social media is a zoo in reverse. The users in captivity are those who are scrolling, swiping and peering out into other people's lives. And those who post choose to depict a life that filers out so much of the negativity and difficulties that befall all of us so often.

So what can we do to use SM in a more positive and realistically reflective manner? Yesterday, Emmanuel De Souza and I had a great chat on Instagram Live where we addressed this, with the help of many artists and enthusiasts who offered such valuable insight and contributions to the discussion. And it dawned on us that the antidote to the false expectation is genuine interaction. It is the ability to actually respond and reflect in real time, and be yourself without filters and false measurements. And you know what? Its brilliant!!! The conversation, reality, similarities of experience, are just so nourishing because they ground you back in a reality that you don't feel excluded from.

It got me thinking of how users of social media can often forget or even dismiss the framework of reality needed to cultivate their online presence. I'm pretty sure we are all guilty of this to a certain degree, so I feel I have to be more aware of this framework and how to make 'peering behind the Wizard's curtain' less alien to the necessary processes of life/career.

See the thing is, Instagram is a wonderful tool for the arts in so many ways. But it can also be the drug and poison we really need to measure or avoid. And it is all about framework, uses and gratifications. What do we want, and why? And it got me thinking. Really thinking.

Creative Life is 99.9% rehearsals and hard work. 0.01% is the 'Main Event', and we need to be honest about how we depict and reflect on the construct we offer to others. It reminded me of how Romans built bridges and viaducts etc. They would firstly build the skeletal support structure of the bridge. A hollow and rickety construction that you could literally see through. Then they would build the stone superstructure around the wooden armature. Finally, they would set fire to the structure to burn away the fabricated supports to leave the real intended construction to last the test of time.

And this is kind of what we need to do as SM users. Both burn and build bridges within our own realities, so that we have the means to navigate ourselves and others' lives. We know how much work goes into life, so why edit that out?

Surely we have to learn to take pride in our efforts as much as, if not even more than the outcomes. And probably stop looking for recognition, instead just accept ourselves. We can design, build, admire and use the bridge. But we can also be the bridge as well, and if that means accepting the occasional animal shitting on me without acknowledging my use, then such is life. I have to remember its worth it.

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