There are many different personalities out there for artists (authors, painters, singers, etc.). I don’t think there is really a right or wrong way to be, but there are some extremes that should consider their audience a bit more.
Some people think they are God’s gift to the world, constantly self-adoring and shoving their works in your face or message box. I tend to simply ignore these types. If I follow someone on Twitter and they have an auto-DM demanding I read their work, chances are I will delete the message without much thought. I had someone follow me the other day and then tag me in a tweet telling (not asking) me to follow them back. Maybe it’s silly, but this really irked me. We all know these types and the annoyance they can be. (I have also had some really great conversations with people who sent a more personal “hello” to me after following, which I appreciated.)
On the other side, there are those who feel the need to put their work out there but wish to remain invisible. In fact, I’m one of them and it’s something I’m going to have to square with. There are negative effects from being this way for the artist, such as lack of sales and fans because you are too timid to market, but I didn’t really think there was a negative side for fans, supporters, or followers of these creators. I was wrong.
I saw a Tweet recently by a writer who has been growing in popularity that made me sad and a little mad. This person is usually encouraging, and an inspiration to many. From what I can tell on Twitter, they’re a good person and have helped a lot of people with their writing, so I hope this Tweet was a result of a particularly bad day or something, rather than their real opinion. However, it served to show me the dark side of the introvert. I’m not naming names, and I won’t even describe the tweet, because I don’t want the writer to get any flack for this post. So, I’ll try to talk about it without really talking about it, if you know what I mean.
If you choose to market and put your book into the public eye, you “risk” getting popular and being the target of positive and negative feedback alike. You become, in some sense, responsible to your supporters and fans as well. Anyone who has read this blog knows I’m anxious about the possibility of being in the spotlight and everything that comes with it, but it’s worth it to me to get my story out there. If I actually attain fans someday, I want to inspire and support them, like any creative person should do for the people who got them there in the first place.
That’s how it works. If people support you into popularity (which gives you the money you need to continue your passion), it’s unfair of you to complain about being popular. That’s not to say you can’t discuss the fact that it’s difficult or stressful, but this particular Tweet was different.
For instance, if a painter becomes famous and makes a good living off of their art, it’s the love and support of the fans that got them to that point. When this painter openly talks to the public through social media, sharing their opinions and thoughts, they open up discussion to anyone who reads those opinions. When the media catches wind of how popular and influential this person is and comments on it, whether positive or negative, it’s a part of the job to either be grateful for the good, ignore the bad, or comment on the bad if necessary.
What if that same painter then complains publicly about how all they ever really wanted to do was paint, not be an artist or influencer of people? Is that not a slap in the face to those who supported them in the first place? The adoring fan who bought their books and “liked” or “retweeted” their posts suddenly feels like it was all for nothing because the artist never wanted to be popular.
If you want to create and avoid attention, there are ways to do that. Put your work out there without doing any kind of marketing. That means no social media personal opinions and no ads or self-promotion of any kind. You probably won’t make a livable paycheck or reach your intended audience, but you also won’t have to deal with the spotlight. Not safe enough? Don’t show your work to people. Create to your heart’s content, and never have to worry about the extra stress that may come with public support. After all, you’re the one who defines your own success, and if you’re happy just being a painter/dancer/writer/etc., then do that. There are many different options to choose from, these being just two.
Don’t like how many mainstream people in your field behave and are embarrassed to be grouped in with them? You are an influencer now, and have the power to behave in any way you wish. Use your influence to change the negative things and lead by example for those who come after you. Whatever you do, don’t encourage the negative stigma that you dislike so much. It will only serve to put newcomers off of their dreams to become just like you.