If you’re artistically minded one of the key driving forces behind anything you do is probably the indescribable desire to make things. There’s something fulfilling about taking a part of yourself, turning it into something else and then putting it out in the world.
The simple act of making something can provide a rush or a release that you don’t get anywhere else. For some people this is a primal act that they don’t understand and have no desire to. For others though, their work is an attempt to be understood or to connect with other likeminded people in some way.
That’s where an audience becomes important. A lot of people say that they don’t care if just one person enjoys what they do but the truth is, that after a while, if you consistently put out work that doesn’t find an audience, it can start to feel liked a rejection.
And that’s not just a rejection of your work but more pressingly a rejection of you, the person who created it. Why is your world view not connecting with people? Are you wrong? Do you lack the talent to be understood? Or is it that you lack the capacity to connect with people?
Often, I think, it can be down to the simple fact that the world is flooded with ‘content’ on a daily basis so getting in front of the potentially small group of people who might relate to what you’re doing, can be a challenge.
I work mainly in creating films and videos and I’ve had a little bit of exposure at film festivals with my short film Lilly and on YouTube and Vimeo with my other work - but the base of people who watch what I make is, realistically, tiny.
I do appreciate every single person who watches what I make. That anyone would spare a few minutes to make what I’ve made is heartwarming. It can, though, occasionally feel like it’s impossible to break out of the small group of acquaintances and friends who view my films.
No one wants to be the loser churning out work that has people questioning why they bother or ‘who does this guy think he is?’ You have to be self aware enough to know that what you do is not ‘important’ to anyone but you.
I don’t have a right to an audience. No one does. It has to be earned - I know that. I guess it’s just disheartening when you keep on trying to make interesting and connectable work and it doesn’t seem to catch anyone’s gaze.
I suppose this is a crisis that all creative people face? When is it time to give up and when is it worth battling through the doubt and just keep making the work that is true to you?
I’ve recently been working on a travel series that I shot last year and I’ve put a lot of hard work and time into making a series of films that I think try and explain how life changing seeing more of our world can be. I’m on episode three now but the truth is that the views on each episode are becoming fewer with each release.
So, is this down to a failure of content, a failure of marketing, just bad luck or something else I’ve not even considered? I can’t say for sure. The feedback I have had back has been good but it’s very often from people I already know and I can’t help but feel that they’re somewhat obliged to stroke my ego!
It’s heartbreaking (in that way that only a young privileged white male can be heartbroken) when you put all of your true self into something, launch it out into space and then get no message back.
It’s all too easy to grumble and moan about these things and it does seem silly when there’s so much important stuff going on in the world but I suppose each of us do live in our own subjective little universes where it’s our own outlets of expression, whatever they may be, that mean the most to us.
I always say, and I think it’s broadly true, that art doesn’t exist until it has an audience so if you do, by some chance, want to see any of the work I’ve made that has lead me to this crisis of confidence, you can find it on this site.