Connecting with the Creator in all we do is important. He guides us and leads us and the more we come to know Him, the more He will reveal things to us that can shape our creativity. Connecting with others comes a close second. Human beings were designed for relationship. Just look at the relationship between God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are in perfect relationship with one another, and we’ve been made in their likeness… we’ve been made to be in relationship with others.
As a creative how are you connecting with others? How are you connecting with your audience? Are you taking time to present your work in a way that’s engaging? Are you creating relationships online or are you flying solo? If you don’t connect with others, or with your audience, you are never going to develop relationships. And if you don’t develop relationships, you are never going to fully flourish as an artist.
And man, have I been in place! When I reflect on that time, I think part of the reason I preferred to fly solo was due to ignorance. I just didn’t know how to be engaging, I was scared to open up and really share about myself, so I had no idea how to communicate effectively. Things have changed since then though….
But why have things changed, and how have they changed? What have I been doing differently? I’ll give you the short answer… it’s focus. I have seriously narrowed my focus on what I’m creating, on how I’m creating it and finally, on how I’m “showing my work”.
This seems like a good place to let you know that today’s post is a book review about Austin Kleon’s book, “Show Your Work”. It’s a New York Times bestseller, that talks about 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.
You might recall about two weeks ago I went live on Facebook and Instagram to share that I was going to start reading Austin’s book, and I promised then, that once I was done, I was going to review it with you.
So let’s begin with the book visually. I believe the book’s been illustrated in a way that ensures you get the message in the quickest, strongest and clearest way possible. I love that every chapter begins with a quote, and although I have read many art quotes in my time, the quotes in this book have been ones that have really resonated with me. His graphics are simple and to the point. Each chapter is one of the 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.
Austin begins by really encouraging you, that you don’t have to be a genius to show your work. I love how in this chapter, he points out that we are all amateurs and that it’s okay to be an amateur. He says, “because amateurs have got little to lose, amateurs are willing to try anything and share the results. They take chances, experiment, and follow their wins. Sometimes in the process of doing things in an unprofessional way, they make new discoveries”. We don’t have to be at this place of excellence to be able to show our work online. How refreshing is that!
Austin says that “the key is process, not product” and each chapter he implores you to have a deeper look at why you do what you do. From documenting your processes each day, to giving your work the “So What? Test”, from talking about your work at parties to polishing your storytelling skills, it’s all about the process for showing your work. It’s not about the product. This was so eye opening for me!
Austin also explains how overall, we should really just be ourselves. We need to open up our cabinets of curiosities and let the world see what makes us us. Don’t be shy, don’t be a copy of someone you look up to, just be you! It’s only by being ourselves that we will truly connect with others and in doing so, strengthen our relationships.
What have I taken away from “Show Your Work”? Well, I’ve realised that for me to document my processes, to talk about my work at parties or to develop my storytelling abilities, I needed to narrow my focus. When things were so broad (because I love just about everything), I found it hard to express myself, I couldn’t explain what I wanted to say effectively. Once I narrowed things down and focused on exactly what I was working towards, expressing myself became so much easier. And when you express yourself clearly, connection happens as others can understand and relate to what you’re saying. Before you know it, relationships form.
After realising this, I’ve found it easier to implement some of Austin’s other suggestions. I haven’t put everything into practice that Austin suggests in his book. I’m thinking that I probably will, over time, as I get more structured and settled into the routine of creating and blogging. I will however, be opening up my cabinet of curiousities… big time!! I have a very large cabinet, that has 43 years worth of stuff in it. Consider yourself warned, there will be no holding back from this post onwards!
So, to my Rose Rankings. How many roses out of five do I give “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon? I’m giving it 4 roses out of five. It’s a book you should have in your arsenal if you’re a creative and you’re wanting to share your work online, simple as that. It’s practical. When you show your work online effectively, you will be engaging, you will form relationships and you will flourish as an artist.
If I’m going to be opening up my cabinet of curiousities, will you be opening yours? I want to know about what makes you you. I want to know you better and strengthen my relationship with you. Leave me a comment sharing with me one thing that you absolutely love to collect. I’ll go first, I love collecting vintage signs. Here’s a pic of my favourite one.