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As a creative professional, you will no doubt have your devoted customers, die-hard audience and fan base… even if it is just your mom :-). Whether you are a stage performer, visual artist or designer, your work will be seen by an audience. Chances are, you are doing what you do for yourself and your primary audience who sees your work. Sometimes, you do it more for yourself, sometimes more for your audience.
However, as a creative, you need to recognize that your value needs to extend beyond just yourself and your primary audience. Satisfying yourself and your primary audience is perfectly fine and admirable if you are a pure creative artist who does not intend to make money from your craft.
But an entertainer needs to satisfy many more people in order to survive and thrive! This is usually a torment for the pure creative artist trying to make a living because these artists are purely focused on satisfying themselves (to be true to themselves) and their audience. They seldom bother what the client thinks, even though it might be the most important opinion.
Here are other people that you, as a creative, need to create value for each and every time your work is showcased:
- Your Client aka the person paying your fee. Sometimes, the client and the primary audience may be the same. But, many times. the client is the one booking you to showcase your craft to their guests/ audience.
- Potential New Clients
- Potential Agents, Talent Scouts, Bookers, TV Producers
- Potential Sponsors, Patrons & Investors
- Industry Peers
So in order to be a creative, you need to showcase your craft so that it appeals to as many of the above parties as possible. To put it bluntly, you need to have commercial appeal across a variety of demographics. Different audience groups will perceive and judge your work differently.
- A Client or a Potential Client will measure their satisfaction based on their dollar spent to see if you were worth the money.
- Potential Agents, Talent Scouts, Bookers, TV Producers will see if you fit their creative talent roster and add diversity to their portfolio. Your fee may also be a factor along with how easy you seem to be able to work with.
- Potential Sponsors, Patrons & Investors will look for originality, uniqueness, marketability and the commercial appeal in your work.
- Journalists and reporters will be looking out to see if you are an interesting individual and if there are interesting stories behind your work.
- Industry peers and fellow creatives in your field will be looking for originality and something different, often not concerned with the commercial value of your work.
The reality is – you can not satisfy everyone all the time. It is impossible! If you try, you will be frustrated and discouraged constantly. If you accept this fact, you can concentrate on identifying how many groups you can satisfy as possible. Obviously, the more parties you can satisfy, you higher chances you have of being commercially successful. You also have to discern which parties may have more value to you as a creative.
Clients, prospective new clients and agents have the potential of bringing you work (and $) immediately. The media has an intangible benefit of raising your profile and building your brand that can transform into tangible benefit over a period of time. Industry peers are unlikely to bring you work, unless in the form of referrals, so its is more for the recognition within the industry and for awards (if available) that can be added to your portfolio.
Since each group is unique and with different benchmarks on how they judge your work, there will have to be a degree of give & take and creativity will be needed to modify, adapt and tailor your craft so different parties who look out for different values are happy. It is a fine art to be able to be commercial yet maintain your personal artistic standards – but that is the job of a creative!