Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Artist in Waiting...

Wednesday musings...

A couple of singers have asked me to address the difference between artist and superstar (for lack of a better term).

May I suggest there is a great deal of difference between BEING an artist and being an artist trying to make a living in the business. I have addressed this before, but it needs repeating from time to time for all of us.

As I deal with many different and diverse clientele,  I often ask a potential student "why are you here? what brings you to this studio?"

If I were to narrow it down - the true artist - developing, emerging, achieving - says something about their craft:  wanting to discover more in order to do xyz;  wanting to simply find out what they can find about their voice;  wanting to learn, wanting to find more ways to express etc.

The performer who is not motivated by artistry but rather by business will answer "I need to work, I want a job, I have to be working before the end of the summer, I need to book a gig".

Now, don't get me wrong, artists that are in the business, must need to think from a business perspective, but it is not the first thing that enters their minds.  The artistic spirit has difficulty entering the business mind.  They simply do not function in their day to day with that "hire me NOW" mentality.  They want to make beautiful music.  They want to show a journey.  They want to discover a way to LIVE that has depth, meaning and beauty.

Business ain't that way.

Being an artist in the business of show is an odd and bizarre dance.

Often, we look at who IS working and even though there might be talent there (or sometimes not so much),  we are puzzled by WHY such mediocre talent/ability works and the true artist is often passed over.  This is the million dollar question.

If you want to be a superstar, you don't need talent, you need a gimmick.  The old saying never gets old.

So, if you are an artistic soul, it is simply how you live your life.  Your artistry is not just about the craft of your talent, but how you approach your day to day life in every way: what motivates you;  what inspires you;  what gives you meaning;  what you desire.

How do you reconcile this with the business?  You want that business to recognize that artistry, that possibility, that "IT" factor that is often unspoken.  Yet, somehow you come up short, or someone with less ability, less training, less passion, less something, gets the nod.  WHY?!

Well, sadly there are as many reasons as grains of sand ultimately.  Trying to riddle this enigma out will drive you nuts.  Truly.

So how can we simplify???  What is the reality of the artist IN the business?


How do you MARKET yourself as commodity?  What are you selling?  How do you sell it?

Okay, those of you who are artists just threw up in your mouth a little - and I shuddered at it too.  But guess what,  this is balance beam we walk each day, if we choose to allow our artistic nature/spirit to inhabit our craft in order to pursue a career possibility.

Nothing is guaranteed.  Nothing is promised.  BE that artist.  Then acknowledge you are going to have to shift your THINKING to allow that artist to try to make a living in the business of show.  It is NOT the business of artistry.

So what do you need to SHOW?  This is where the marketing comes in.

When asked "what do you want to DO? " an artistic soul will speak from that - a better singer, a better self,  to discover what I can sing well etc etc.  Now we take that artistic desire to SEEK and put on the marketing business hat:

What do you need to SHOW in order to DO?  How do you reconcile artist/performer/business and still sleep at night?

You do not need to sacrifice your artistic spirit.  Ever.   You simply need to recognize, understand and develop the tools that aren't as accessible to marketing.  The product is YOU.  What does the business need to see? to hear?  to acknowledge immediately about YOU?

Business hat is not the same as artistic hat.  Learning how to wear both,  and when to wear one over the other, is key.  Understanding, and taking charge of when the artistic hat is needed and understood then recognizing when the business hat needs to be fully apparent is part of your marketing as an artist in the business of show.

Show them what they need to see in order to get the job, the opportunity,  the foot in the door.  THEN, your artistry can expand its wings and encompass the craft and journey you are meant to be a part of.

Craft is part of business.  If you have none, or have limited access to it,  the business will only offer you a moment and then simply replace you if you cannot follow through.

Artistry is revealed when craft is built and talent can be summoned at will to inhabit the space the business has invited you to enter.

Without the business, and the marketing of YOU,  you are still an artist. You wake up an artist, and you fall asleep an artist.  This gives you power, a sense of self, of purpose, of truth.

If you are simply about marketing/business with no craft, and no artistry, you rely only on what the business acknowledges.

Where are you?  Where do you want to be?  Where do you NEED to be?

Believe, reconcile, and recognize what you are capable of doing,  what you are actually doing,  how to do, and why you do it.

Superstar?  Honestly, who cares if you are hiding in plain sight with little craft!

edited to add the brilliance of John Malkovich on World Theater Day:

From JOHN MALKOVICH for World Theatre Day

"I'm honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.

May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life's work. And may the best of you - for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments - succeed in framing that most basic of questions, "how do we live?" Godspeed."

- John Malkovich

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