We are now one month into 2013 and thinking about our art maybe as a hobby, maybe as a business, for the year ahead. The big question that might be the key to success is: ‘What can I give up doing so I can pay more attention to my art and do it better?’
This article is called 'The Hump' because intriguingly that’s what I remember Seth Godin talking about – the choices we need to make to get over difficulties - the Humps in our life. But when I went back to the book I was really surprised to see it was actually called 'The Dip'! Something Freudian going on in my mind perhaps!
Seth Godin and 'The Dip'
Anyway, I’ve been reading an e-book by Seth Godin called ‘The Dip’ (Hachette Digital, 2011). The Dip he talks about is that difficulty that confronts us – 'Should I keep at it or should I give up?' If you’re creating a piece of work that’s proving difficult, if you’re in the middle of recession without a breakthrough in sight, if you’re trying to achieve new skills but it’s harder than you thought – these are all what Seth Godin would call Dips (and what I would call Humps!) When should you go on despite the worries and aggravation – or when should you drop it and get on with something else?
Sometimes we give up too easily…
Godin observes, 'It’s human nature to quit when it hurts.' As artists we quite often persevere with things that initially aren’t easy. With continued practice muscle memory kicks in – and then suddenly things like drawing, or sewing, or throwing a pot become second nature. And that only happens because you’ve worked at it despite the difficulty. Godin points out, 'If you can get through the Dip… you will achieve extraordinary results.'
We are all novel…
It’s very hard in art not to be novel. We must all be the best at our own style - because unless you are a copyist it’s most likely that your style is inimitably your own. The more different your approach is from everyone else, the more of a niche market you have, and the easier it is to be the best at it. So it’s that niche market or difference and your perfection of it that Godin says you need to aim for: '…create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and yes, choose it.'
People who are successful quit some things
It’s common sense that we can’t all do everything – and Godin seems to advise quitting things that aren’t contributing to your bigger plan or picture. We can also cut down on wasted effort. My advice would be to try drafts or prototypes out on people before you invest a lot of time or resources in something. Open Studios is brilliant for this type of experimentation. Getting feedback from your visitors is great for deciding what works and what doesn’t on a commercial level. (And remember for things to work commercially they need to work on an emotional level - connecting with people in some important way.) This can help you decide what to nurture and what to drop.
What to look forward to
This year I’m looking forward to all the excellence and talent that happens when people put their heart and soul into art. And I know your Hump (whatever you are working through) will be different from my Hump – but here’s to getting over it!
If you'd like to share your Hump (the difficulty in your art that you are working through at the moment) we'd love to hear about it in a comment below! You never know - you might get help, advice or support from other members...
by BELINDA NAYLOR-STABLES