Artists; it is easy to start self-doubting your work, right? Correct me if I am wrong... How 'success' is measured can be damaging. Even the most confident of artists face this. Nominations, awards, chart-positions... You name it. There is always something out there challenging your position of success.
To rub salt into your self-doubting-wound. Being independent and unknown, makes it a whole new world. A brave one. I respect you, because I relate to your journey. And, I am here to share some things I have learned while on mine.
Please view my ideas with an open mind. Remember, I am learning every day, just like you. My words are just pieces I have learned from my own journey. I hope you feel more inspired and embraced with the following nuggets of wisdom;
Experiment... And see
Being unknown is a rather scary place. Because, let's face it, you want people to be exposed to your art. However, being unknown is also a liberating gift. It's your time to experiment. You may annoy your existing (small) fan-base. But spreading your artistic wings could also expand your audience. Get your eagle on.
Experimentation is also a great way to innovate and grow. Imagine just following your feels and vision. How satisfying is it to just express yourself? Letting the audience who chooses to follow you, grow with you? Extremely (but that's just me).
A great example of artists who refuse to stick to the same formula are Madonna and Rihanna. Madonna; not much elaboration needed there. Rihanna; her innovation and growth as an artist (especially between her albums Music of the Sun and Loud), has been exceptional.
Escapism... Still authentic
Being real is such a huge theme in many art forms. Especially in hip-hop/rap where it is pretty much taboo to escape one's box (and being criticised for selling-out). I must admit, being inspired by hip-hop/rap, I also adopted that mindset. As I grow to understand my creative-self more, I see that playing with fantasy does not make art any-less real.
We can still be authentic and unique by providing a perspective on something that we do not experience, first hand. Allowing ourselves to live through a 'window' is a powerful thing. Imagine all the people you could connect with entirely on your angle of their experience... That's an audience you would not necessarily engage with, normally.
Great examples of this are Regina Spektor and Missy Elliott. The former for her great ability to tell a story as a character. The latter for her amazing visuals, which I think is escapist heaven.
Help... Find it
Outsource, unless the learning process is part of your art. I know it is satisfying to create something that has been crafted entirely by you. But sometimes, it's great to find someone skilled in an area you're not comfortable with. Being independent means time is important. Getting your work out there is better than letting it collect dust... Slightly hypocritical of me... But, I'm sticking with it.
Having another perspective on your art work from someone else can be an amazing thing. Collaboration can take your work to a greater level. It does not make you dependent. It allows you to share the experience of your journey with other people. That is always a fun thing... Unless it turns sour (but let's not focus on that).
I could go on for days about great artistic collaborations. But on a higher level, the music industry is full of collaboration. Just take a look at the credits for a few of the songs that you admire.
Those are basically my thoughts on being independent and unknown. I know I am opening myself up to criticism. There will be people who do not consider me to be successful. Which in their minds means I'm not entitled to an opinion or think I haven't learned very much.
I'm proud of my creative successes. Being able to independently fund, write, produce (with some amazing help), and vocally perform my entire debut studio album, Trick Room, is a great achievement. I'm really excited about where my art is going. It's scary to deviate away from the path I've established - but I'm following my feels.
I have yet to officially release Trick Room. But, it can be heard exclusively, here.
That aside... I think everyone is an artist. It's amazing to see people create something tangible out of their vision. So, I am excited to know if you found this valuable (or rubbish). Even if it takes you ten years to figure it out. I would like to know. And, if you have found this valuable. I would be grateful for you to share this with anyone else who would benefit from it.
Wherever you are in this world. I wish you a great moment in time. I will leave you with this photo I took while on my way to Beulah, Colorado. Let me just add, this place is amazing! I will be sad to leave it.