Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bold and Humble Illustration

"Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare."-Dale Carngie 

Hi illustrators! I received an interesting email asking me how bold an illustrator should be while online, with promotion and as a creator? Can you be both bold & humble at the same time? I thought these were good questions. 

The experts tell us to be bold but not too pushy. Be humble but don't be too quiet and to avoid the hard sell but tell a story. So many rules! So we are looking for the friendly, positive, story telling ratio to networking mix so we can get it just right. 

Here's the thing: not all of us know what that is nor do we all take it as seriously as the pros do. If we did, we would never have time to actually work.

"Freedom lies in being bold."-Robert Frost 

Here are the other things to consider: those who scream the loudest get noticed. Give them something to listen to or pay attention to. Be bold with a purpose. Keep your expectations in check because some things will get noticed and some things will get lost in the feed. 

How about we change the title to this: be confidently humble. 

Be bold. Jump into your career but remember to take your brain with you. 

My approach is to start with what you are comfortable with and then give yourself a gentle nudge to go farther. By doing this you are thinking about what the audience is going to read/see plus you can try to put yourself into their networking shoes. The other factor that is blatantly clear, promotion is something we must imperatively do to get out there. 

The next tid-bit is your fearless factor. We are only illustrators once. So, we have to push some to get some or push to pull them in. This formula is experimental and does not come without mistakes or challenges.

I shared these ideas on my illustration group page on Facebook to get some great feedback. Here are the responses: 

"Let your work be bold and do all the shouting for you! You get to sit quietly beside it like a slightly embarrassed parent with a look on your face that seems to say, " I'm sorry, this piece doesn't know how to behave in public. It has the nasty habit of grabbing everyone by the eyeballs. "  

"Since I believe the profession of an illustrator is a business, I feel that it is
necessary to approach every promotional activity, whether online or other, like an advertisement, or at the very least, a job interview. Is that bold? I don't know, but if that means my finances are in the black at the end of the day, then I need to do what it takes. Plus, I think that even the best art will go unnoticed if it is not somehow promoted."-David Vallejo 

"I personally think you should be bold in your enthusiasm for books and excited to be a part of this business, but you should be humble about your work. I just interviewed the brilliant Ed Young who is as humble a man as you will ever meet. I will never cease to be humbled by the great and varied talent in this business!"- Linda Stanek 

I once wrote that your work has a life without you-sometimes it hangs out with the crickets and sometimes it hangs out in the applause. Either way it takes a certain amount of courage and boldness to let it be out there for all to see. 

Jeremy is right-it is like being a parent to your work. It's not easy letting your work be out there on it's on without you controlling it. It will be judged and it will sometimes get overlooked.

The positives are much larger. Your work will also get attention. You will also get feedback. You will also develop a following. By being bolder you run the chance of letting the right eyes see what you do and what you do well. Stop waiting. 

Ask yourself this: Do you want to be safe all the time and be good, or do you want to take a chance and be great?

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