Help Others and Help Yourself
Occasionally, your daily effort can mean leaving your craft untouched and supporting another artisan’s work that day instead. Attend a reading or art gallery opening, a film screening or a concert. You’ll have to define “occasionally.” Maybe it’s twice a month, maybe it’s every other month, depending on how much time you manage to carve out for your daily practice. This should not replace a lot of your daily effort, but give you a rejuvenating break and a chance to encourage someone else.
Your attendance at other artists’ events helps build an audience for their work. If you’re able to bring a friend or two, you’re introducing new people to the artist’s work, helping pack the house, and create a base of support.
At the same time, you’re rubbing elbows with like-minded folks — other artists and art enthusiasts who might become colleagues, friends, or audience members of your own. You’re also observing the whole scene of a person’s private creative effort getting shared with the world, which might inspire your daily effort by broadening your vision of what is possible for you.
If you’re short on cash, your appreciative presence is plenty, but if you can, buy the artist’s book or CD, pay for a ticket, or make a donation. For work you love, you could write a review or blog post or share an image in various social media platforms to help promote someone else’s work.
All of this enhances your practice of craft while giving you a break from the daily grind and lending energy, moral support, and praise to a fellow artist putting in the time and then taking the risk of revealing their work to world. That’s a scary thing to do, but you can make it easier by being the engaged, appreciative audience member, fan-letter-writer (see also W), and fellow artisan.
When it’s your turn to share your work with the world, you’ll have examples of how other creative folks managed to “work the room,” and you will most likely see some familiar faces in the crowd that shows up to appreciate you and your craft.
This was all I’d planned to say in this post for “H,” but I recently experienced something I want to add here, and that is asking for help.
It’s hard for me to ask for help. I’m a Gen Xer, and I want to do it all by myself. However, while going for a walk one day trying to work out some technical challenges I was having, I realized my project had gone beyond my abilities, and then, a name popped into my mind, a professional artist I’d not seen much in the last twelve years. Without letting doubt set in, I hurried home and messaged him to see if he could help.
There’s more to this story I’ll post later, but here’s the part related to “H”– he’s been helping me in far more ways than I’d originally imagined, teaching me some basics and some design theory, and encouraging me to believe even more in my project. So, it’s totally worth asking for help; the worst thing that can happen is the person says “no.”
Lastly, thanking people for their help can be a joy and a challenge. I’ve not yet figured out how to re-pay or thank my artist friend. I’m working on it. Until then, I’m paying it forward by helping a few other people. They’re not artists, and I’m helping in totally different ways, but it feels good to support others as I’m being supported. It doesn’t go back directly to the friend helping me, but it feels like it’s generating more good will in the world overall, and that’s a really good thing.