Be My Audience!
While it’s important to make art that you are happy with, that doesn’t mean that a wider audience doesn’t exist. It’s up to the artist to determine how much that audience will see of their work. Some artists, like Emily Dickinson, are happy to keep most of their work to themselves. Others exhibit their work in shows and galleries.
I have heard that writers write best when they have a specific audience in mind. In some ways, this is true for art. When there is an audience in mind, it can help you make decisions as you work. How much the idea of the audience influences the work probably depends on a variety of factors.
For me, there is an audience in mind with each individual piece, often depending on my goals for that work. For example, doodling in my notebooks helps me sit still during meetings and is only meant seen if I tip the page to someone sitting next to me to let them in on a joke.
In high school, I had a pen pal from Australia, and we spent a lot of time decorating the margins of our letters for each other.
These are my notes from a recent Sunday at church. I love capturing my thoughts with pictures in the margins!
I put the Illustrations for my stories up on my blog for anyone to see.
Illustration from my story “Anything You Want to Be” published on 2-13-19.
Practice work is just meant for me.
Being an audience member can be educational. I took a watercolor class at the community college last year. It was fun to have everyone working on the same assignment and see how different the pieces were. It was informative in the way that art videos are, where you get a chance to see someone’s process and how they solve the problems on the page.
An audience is helpful to the artist as well. Knowing some one is watching is great for motivation. There is some pressure to do your best work.
If they are expecting you to show up, there is pressure to actually show up and do something. This might be a friend that you meet once a week to paint with, or a blog where you post a painting twice a week. Feeling accountable is great motivation.
While the best and most reliable feedback comes from a trusted mentor, an audience can also provide some feedback. They can give you comments or suggestions that you can decide to take or ignore. They can provide support and encouragement. Just knowing that someone out there cares enough to look at your work and tell you what they think without being asked is encouraging. (As long as they don’t hate your work. There is always that risk. Then you just have to do your best to recover and move on.)
As I said in the beginning, the wider audience does exist. None of us are truly alone. How much of our work we share is up to each artist and their goals. So is how much you keep the audience in mind as you work. There are choices, and it’s up to you to choose.
What are your thoughts about the audience to your artwork? Is it something that you keep in mind as you work? How do you share your work? Comment below!