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Feeling like a failure


CS2x
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These are just my random thoughts for a Saturday afternoon.

 

I think ultimately its about getting comfortable with why you do your creative thing. (And I assume here we're talking about being creative rather than trying to earn a living).

 

One thing that used to constantly frustrate me running my blog, is the amount of work I would put into an article, vs the level of feedback/likes I got. And the sad reality is that the bulk of people don't read anything that's longer than the length of a tweet anymore, or would rather sit passively watching a video on YouTube rathe than having to actually digest something using their brain. I write about arcade history, and there are accounts on Twitter that post a picture of an old Defender cabinet, along with a pithy comment like: "Defender is today's game of the day!". And they will receive endless comments, likes and retweets. Meanwhile, I can post a link to a well-researched 2,000 word article about Defender's history that I've toiled over for two days, and get no feedback at all. The lowest common denominator will win every time. But what is that feedback worth? Not much in my view. I'd rather not have it, frankly.

 

So I took some time out to figure out why I run my blog, and came to the conclusion that I wasn't doing it for "likes" or money, but for myself. I want to create a body of work  with my name attached to it, that records arcade history - if people do like what I do, they will seek me out and feedback, share, like etc.

 

So what I did was to detach myself from chasing likes (which is a pointless currency anyway - you're only as good as the last "like" you got), and continue to output on my terms, and my personal standards, on a regular basis. My blog continues to grow organically, and you end up with a group of followers who genuinely appreciate what you do and engage with the content. Feedback for me these days, is a nicely worded email or PM about a particular topic that I've written about. I get a couple of those most weeks.

 

The thing that frustrates me now, is the amount of plagiarism that goes on. My stuff gets copied wholesale, without shame, constantly. Images, my copy, entire articles. You name it. But that's another story.

 

So just be honest with yourself and detach yourself from the expectation of feedback. Forget about likes, and let your quality speak for itself. A smaller following of engaged users is worth much more to me emotionally, than 1,000 randoms who know how to click a like button.

 

The other thing to remember, is that there are a lot of people out there who might enjoy your work, but simply don't acknowledge it. I found this recently when I released my first book. The sales have been phenomenal (for a one man band, self published effort). So many people came out the woodwork and said "I love what you do, and this is going to be great - ordered!". Way beyond any expectations I had.

 

Organic growth is the key. I think as soon as you start chasing validation, you're on the wrong path, and you'll be compromising your usual standard of output, chasing your tail for the next like. If what you do is good, the people who you want to see it, will do so eventually.

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I've always done various creative bits and bobs, but never seriously and never with the intention of being able to make a living out of it, so its probably easy for me to say this, but ultimately it feels like you just have to enjoy the creative process and forget about the audience and how many people may or may not ever watch it.

 

I think spotify isn't terrible in this - I've often ended up liking a song on suggested for you to find a baffling small number of listens and then kind of pleased that there are 'small listen' bands getting a look in.

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I tend to be somebody who chases validation, and it's a frustrating place to be. When I get a photo I'm pleased with I want to share it, and it can be disappointing to still only get the 5 likes I tend to get on social media, whilst an out of focus sunset shot with a wonky horizon and blown out sky in a local Facebook community group gets hundreds of comments and requests to buy the image from the creator. It does sound like sour grapes my my part but it isn't intended that way, I mean no ill to the people finding their little bits of success. 

 

A few years ago I decided to build a website with a blog and place to buy images directly, which I enjoyed doing and still enjoy tinkering with occasionally...but in doing so I seem to have massively reduced my 'audience'. Absolutely nobody visits my site, I dropped the blog as nobody read it and I haven't sold a single image through it in two years. This year, through stock websites, I've made a massive .59p.

 

I'm due to be featured in a national photography magazine in a few months and that excites me greatly, they reached out to me and I've never had anything like this before, but I know it's likely to also lead to disappointment when I inevitably see zero growth in my social media audience. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity however. Likewise I've entered competitions (admittedly high level ones) and I've yet to get anything other than outright rejected at the first stage. I don't mind that, but the lack of feedback they provide can be a little soul-crushing as you never know where you are going wrong. 

 

Part of me hates my current job and occasionally I dream of going full-time pro photographer, but I both know I'm not good enough to be a pro, and realise that breaking through in the industry is now virtually impossible. Thanks to social media, stock websites plus the availability and affordability of very good camera phones, the ability to take great shots and see great shots has grown exponentially, but the value of those images is now virtually zero. I know people who are desperately trying to gain a large following in social media whilst also working full time, but the amount of time and effort they are having to put in means its something I'll never have the availability to do. Therefore, if I can't complete, why try? 

 

2020 and these lockdowns have done strange things to my outlook though. I now both hate my job even more but also value that I have a job at all, and being in this state has lead me to enjoy photography again for the reasons I started - going outside and taking pictures. 

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I have many, many thoughts on this exact subject and I run through them in my head pretty much constantly, but they always sound like the worst kind of self absorbed bullshit despite some of them being entirely valid grievances with how the whole social media thing plays out. They basically follow the same path you guys have laid out.

 

One thing that really, really, really fucks me off is successful people giving the advice of "Do your creative thing for YOU" or some such happy clappy Live Laugh Love trite bullshit. I'm like, fuck off I've been trying to do that for nearly a decade and I'm no fucking further along so don't fucking condescend me by making out you can make a career out of doing things for you instead of lowering yourself to the lowest common denominator.

 

I'm REALLY bitter about that shit.

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12 years or so ago I was big into photography, posted a lot on here about it (look for Deepblue in the photography thread around 2007-2008 if you actually want to see some), managed to get some published in various mags and pages, sold a few on Alamy and at market and even managed a months solo exhibition, all on the back of starting out with no knowledge and a Sony KS500i camera phone on a local photographers forum/page (now defunct) 

I was convinced I'd found something I could do and be (not majorly but happily) successful at.

 

Something happened though and I stopped trying. I don't know what or why but it's something I've started to think over more and more lately, probably due to the amount of time I have on my hands now, due to unemployment and Covid and due to me being at an age where I am able to look back with regret at the things I should have stuck with or  done more of but didn't, knowing it's probably too late now to try again.

 

Anyway, I'm going to have a big old think to myself about what happened and will try to put it into words in a post that makes sense to me now, in this thread that @CS2x has made. 

 

I know for sure that one of the bigger sticking points for me back then when lots of people were encouraging me to take the plunge into doing it seriously, was that my thought was "everyone is a photographer now" in 2007. All the artistry and imagination seemed to be disappearing, being replaced by people taking photographs of their food, pets, holidays or objects, sticking a pre made filter on it and then posting it on Facebook or whatever to much acclaim. I thought I was so much more of an artist than them. Which strikes me as odd now, because it wasn't far off what I was planning to do, except for not using pre made filters and choosing and composing my subjects with a bit more thought, care and attention.

 

(edit - and while I was typing this @moosegrinder has posted another thing I 100% feel as well, put much more succinctly than I could)

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've slowly come to realise no one but me like my pictures and stuff, so if i'm happy that's what counts.

But it still pisses me off when yet another generic big eyed Manga girl ipad tosh gets a bazillion likes on instagram and  i can barely scrape up 20 likes for pouring out my soul into a piece of work. But there you go. 

 

Basically, people like some really dumb shit and there is no accounting whatsoever for what the herd deem "awesome". 

 

You know if stuff is good or not, if it's what you wanted to do or pictured in your head. And art is always about moving forward and trying again. 

You never see the prep work or the failed pictures from famous artist. Only the very best stuff gets shown online. 

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Been thinking about this kinda on and off since you posted it @CS2x.

 

Speaking personally, I don't ever expect any real level of success from what I do, which is make music in a niche of a niche, but equally it's hard not to think every time I put something out "maybe this is the track that people will notice" and then be a touch dejected when it barely registers. 

 

I think the key thing is to focus on why you're doing it, and for me it's 99% the enjoyment of creation and the zen state of focusing purely on that rather than almost everything else in this fucking garbage fire of a world.

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Can very much relate to much of this; loving the act of creating but also still wanting some form of recognition. Social media is highly frustrating, what does and doesn't get likes, I think there is a lot of people buying fake followers, and people who repost the same photos that do well again and again (this actually seems to be a genuine technique to increase followers). The whole networking, commenting on other peoples work so they do so on yours, posting on a very regular schedule I find very difficult, I don't have a constant stream of high quality work and am probably just not social enough to enjoy the process.


I am also a photographer (or trying to be :) ) @PeteJ I did quit my job that I hated, ( I didn't hate all parts of it, but it felt completely empty to me, I had been at the same place for many years and knew that that career would never bring fulfilment, only money ) I went and studied for a MA in Documentary Photography, saved up a load of cash before hand to keep me going, and I loved the degree, it was definitely the most fulfilling thing I have ever done apart from travelling. Many of the lecturers were very clear; making money from photography these days is very tough, traditional roles that related to photojournalism just don't really exist to provide stable pay anymore. Everyone doing the course knew this, but of course you finish and reality comes back to find you. I went through a pretty tough time really not knowing what to do and what direction to go in, spent a lot of savings just living, and not wanting to go back to my previous career path. 

 

There are a few ways to make money with photography, weddings is a great one, sadly I'm one of the weird people who really don't enjoy weddings, portraiture and events can also generate some money, many people I know do some photography and subsidise their income with other means. So I finally landed on product photography through some luck and chance, and since September a colleague and I have been building a portfolio, I know it can pay, its possible I really believe it, and whilst it isn't documenting meaningful events, its still creative and I work with a camera in my hand, having said that 2 days a week I still have to work in my previous career just to try and make ends meet. Not really sure if this is failure or success yet, time will tell I guess.

 

@multi You really sounds like you enjoyed it, life is short, get back into it if only for yourself. Where can I see your work?

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Social media has been catastrophic for self-esteem so it's not surprising that's extended into the artistic sphere, both at the amateur and commercial level.

 

In years gone by I imagine as a budding artist you could feel pretty good about your work just by getting it exhibited locally, being respected amongst your peers at a local level, selling the occasional piece, etc. - the big fish in a small pond thing. Now there are no ponds, the land has been submerged and everyone is in a struggle for existence in this same vast ocean.

 

At the risk of putting on the rose-tinted spectacles, the earlier pre social media iteration of the internet may have been the sweet spot. It felt like there were thriving spaces out there with actual engagement from the community, rather than everything being reduced to likes and filtered by the all-encompassing algorithm. I remember as a 15 year old submitting my not so great poetry to Deviant Art (lol) and getting really supportive and constructive feedback on it - on Instagram that would have gone straight into the void with maybe a sympathy like from a friend! I know DA still exists but it's not the same place it was.

 

To check my experience above wasn't atypical, I've just searched for similar views out there and found this article that explores it in much more depth and with much more eloquence than I have: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-rise-fall-internet-art-communities

 

Quote

Ultimately, today’s internet is full of contradictions. There are more people to connect with than ever, and yet less room for the exploration and creativity that cultivates strong artistic communities.

 

 

 

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  • 3 months later...
On 24/11/2020 at 15:41, moosegrinder said:

One thing that really, really, really fucks me off is successful people giving the advice of "Do your creative thing for YOU" or some such happy clappy Live Laugh Love trite bullshit. I'm like, fuck off I've been trying to do that for nearly a decade and I'm no fucking further along so don't fucking condescend me by making out you can make a career out of doing things for you instead of lowering yourself to the lowest common denominator.

 

I'm REALLY bitter about that shit.

 

I can understand how that pisses people off when they're banging their head against a wall of indifference - I'm seventeen years deep into a creative career that has only truly shifted to what I would want from it in the last three or four, and appreciate the grind is all too real.

 

That said, "Do it for you, first and foremost" really is the best advice you can live by. If you're getting nothing from the process for its own sake, then it's better to invest the time and energy into something more nourishing. I know that kind of advice is often doled out in some happy clappy positivity meme package, and that presentation can't help but make the teeth itch, but the advice itself is sound.

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I would second that thought. 

 

Some of the best music I've made has been because I just sat down with the goal of relaxing on an afternoon, pushing thoughts of how it might be received or whether what I was doing was "good enough", whatever that means, or I was putting enough effort in (I still have a hang-up that the more effort you put in, or can be heard in a track, the better it is, which is of course total bullshit). I'm lucky in that I'm not doing it for a living, it's purely a hobby that, very occasionally, I get a couple of quid from now and again. Maybe it's easier than if your living depended on it. 

 

 

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Yeah that is a major part of it. If I had to be creative for a living, then doing what I like would be commercial suicide. 

I do the art I like, because ultimately it doesn't matter if anyone else likes it. 

I'm not going to do big eyed Manga tosh because it makes my eyeballs bleed at the shear banality of it, but if you're just starting out then that's the sort of thing the thing you have to do to get noticed. 

 

After a few years of that, then you can create your own thing and educate the tasteless masses. Not like me who has just got old and bitter from the very start :hat:

 

Which isn't to put anyone who does the Manga stuff down, a good artist can make any subject amazing, but the Manga one is a very crowded market place on social media. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know if this is the right place for my dumb thoughts, but I listened to and liked your record, Pockets. The dialogue samples remind me a bit of stuff like Negativland or My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, though it's pretty varied and goes in a some surprising directions, like Work it Out having a neat NY punk-funk vibe. 'How to' and 'Winter 1994' are probably the standouts on first listen.

 

Something about the middle run of tracks didn't work as well for me, particularly 'Socials' which I thought was stretched too thin over six minutes, but the record won me back. I'll give it another listen tomorrow and see if I have some less vague thoughts. 

 

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I always wanted to do motion graphics - the types of stings you see on MTV or a Nike ad. I ended up web design and now UX. I still wanted to do the animation and it was a regret that the 'stop gap' job ended up taking me down another path. I did feel like I had messed up. 

 

So now I solve interaction problems, apps websites etc. (If you use the NatWest app, some of my stuff is in there!) Sometimes it is dull but it can be quite fun too. I have always however wanted something else to fill the creative void. I thought that would be making short films and started to skill up learning about light and editing etc, but it's too close to my day job. I wanted to do something without screens.

 

I've turned that side to doing something that was totally new to me - making furniture to fit the spaces in my flat. I'm hip keep into building a second room office right now. Everything is custom, lots of problem solving, aesthetic choices and practical learning on the job. I knew zero going into this and have stretched far beyond my skill set.

 

TBH it's kept me sane during lockdown and given me something to focus on. I get to use my day to day problem solving and design skills on something completely different. It's nice to see some real world thing come to life that I will actually use instead of some shit on a screen that is gone in 6 months anyway. I'm doing it for myself and my girlfriend. To save money and to give my self something to apply myself to. I have zero interest in looking for validation. Occasionally I might share a few pics to a very select group but that is it. More to show what I've been up to, chit chat. I don't post to FB or Insta (or browse either). I think my last FB post was about 10 years ago now.

 

When I am finished with it all... I will need to learn a new skill, something else to learn and something to build towards For me I think it will be essential as I grow old so I don't go insane. I quite like the idea of buying an old 60's mini or a Datsun (or even a 928 / 911) and doing an electric conversion. I have zero skills in handing cars or doing anything of the sort. Who knows, maybe.

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That sounds less like a fear of failure and more a real drive to improve yourself. Are you worried that if you stop learning new things, the stuff you do know will get stale and boring? Sticking an electrical motor in a car is going to be no mean feat, good luck :)

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1 hour ago, Sidewaysbob said:

That sounds less like a fear of failure and more a real drive to improve yourself. Are you worried that if you stop learning new things, the stuff you do know will get stale and boring? Sticking an electrical motor in a car is going to be no mean feat, good luck :)

 

 

Yeah I think for me (everyone is different) I know that I can easily just sit on the sofa and do f all. And not feel good about it. Having something to apply myself to adds some purpose. Then I can enjoy the sofa later.

 

For example, our holidays. We don't do 'beach' holidays. Always on the go. I get bored after being sat on a lounger for 30 mins. If I'm exhausted from doing lots of exploring and activities then yeah I can sit on the lounger. I've 'earned' the slob about time then. 

 

There is a tension for sure. I enjoy learning new things and am happy when doing so. But it's also hard and takes a lot of effort. It's a bit like pushing yourself to go to the gym. If you can get into a routine it's fine. If you fall out of it, finding the motivation is hell.

 

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've played guitar for 35 years and written songs on and off for all that time, over a thousand and nearly all of them rubbish. I moved from electric to acoustic guitar in 1995 and have continued to make slow progress. A double-edged sword but I've not been motivated to learn others' guitar parts and songs all that much, and as a result I have my own style and voice but in a not overly fluid fashion. I can see I have an understanding of songwriting, a strong chordal vocabulary and frequent flashes of decent and non-annoying melody. There is something fundamental that is off or missing though. Something about me is not in alignment. I'm way past the point of making money, let alone viable money from music, but I still have this feeling that before I'm dead I will have a small, possibly even tiny number of songs published, even if they're recorded by someone I wouldn't admire. It's some focus, a goal that has meaning for me and though it has a 'vain' component it's not a failure of perspective, its not damaging narcissism. I have other interests creatively that are more likely to come to success, personally and objectively, and this has taken the sting out of accepting that I'm a failed musician, over all. But there's still the kernel of a good set of intentions which is moved on periodically, progress hopping over many points of stagnation.

 

At 50 I look at my folders of mp3 files and though there's no garbage in there I am not enthusiastic about that much of it and seldom find new music I like or older stuff I'd missed. A lot of this is because even this music that is recorded and famous is at least a partial failure. Either the words are bad or awful or the rhymes are crass, or the melody is too cyclical and lazy or dope or booze have meant a terrible error of judgement somewhere along the line in a song or its delivery. (I watched Harold and Maude the other night and some of Cat Stevens' songs on the sountrack are, in the cold light of a middle-aged man's day, absolutely daft.) Many of us might be hampered by having become so tasteful that we're not fluid with our artistic endeavours like young people with too much self-belief are. Once they're clean, failure will be with them too. Ten, twenty or forty albums in the shops and a few million in the bank don't mean an 'artist' isn't still a failure.

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  • 3 months later...

I just wrote something here, thanking everyone for their interesting and helpful posts - responding to a few ideas and stories in the thread - and tried to edit it but accidentally ended up deleting the whole post! That is frustrating. Perhaps it was for the best; at least, my reminiscing about the pre-social-media iteration of the internet probably wasn't particularly insightful compared to others' analysis of such changes. Since writing the OP my life descended into a number of worsening health / hearing issues, which made the whole topic more difficult and complex, and is a reason I didn't reply earlier...but I often came back to what others wrote in the thread. Thank you so much to all who shared.

 

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@Pockets

 

I listened to the track Time all the way through - it was shit :D (only joking). 

 

My feedback is: production is great (seriously - an absolutely storming mix) and the general vibe is vaguely reminiscent of the sort of thing you'd hear in a indie bar in the 90s and not entirely be able to place the track (but assume it was probably a B-side from someone famous). Somewhere between Cake and the Chilli Peppers and maybe Primal Scream or something. I also think you could have a career putting tracks on Risk of Rain 3. 

 

The bits I didn't like - I think it's a bit too long, some of the drum samples are a touch sus (there's a tom run in one bit that needs removed and the crash cymbal before it goes silent needs swapped perhaps) and I did like how it developed after the drop, but I'm wondering if it could've perhaps gone somewhere else. Maybe more crazy?

 

I did start playing the album, and you're clearly on the samples over guitar train. I will stick in on in full at some point (but I'm about to drive to France). I actually think you're an absolutely fucking excellent producer (once again the mix is superb) - I think it's probably the anonymity that's killing you a bit. Music is music and there's fucking loads of it about. You need to take your talent and find a face for it. People will buy into the face first and stay for the production. There will be a local singing nutcase who would be absolutely delighted to work with you (to me this needs a 4ft 11, angry, goth girl/boy over the top) - seek them out, send them this and tell them you need them to add character and then prepare yourself to conquer the world.

 

  

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  • 2 weeks later...

No one I know actually makes a living from their own art. They're all either teachers, freelancers, or have entirely unrelated jobs.

 

Going back a few years I used to do screen printing and sell my prints at print fairs, comic conventions etc. and on Etsy. I wasn't particularly dedicated to it and while I did put a lot of hours in it was a fraction of what some people did. In the end it turned out to be a hobby that paid for itself and earnt me a bit of beer money on the side. But it got my art out there and, I sold some prints, and sometimes people would come up to me at the fairs or conventions a year later to tell me where they'd hung the prints they bought off me the year before. That's probably the highest level of success I've had in any of my artistic endeavours.

 

When I was in my 20s I played in a couple of punk bands. We played a handful of shambolic gigs, one of which I think fondly back to and the rest were pretty forgettable (in that a handful of people saw us play and they probably don't remember it). One band recorded a pretty decent demo. I remember saying to one of my band mates who was in another band (everyone in that scene was in at least 2 bands at any given time...) who were touring and had an album out that I wanted to get to that level - he replied something along the lines of "why? it's fucking nothing."

 

I did open mic nights semi-regularly for a couple of years, a mixture of covers and my own songs, some from when I was in the bands. The thing about open mic nights is everyone who gets up and performs inevitably gives a little bit more of themselves away than they'd be consciously comfortable about. I used to laugh about this, but of course, it applied to me as well! While I think back and I'm glad I used to do this, in the moment I hated doing it! I had really bad nerves, even playing to a handful of people in the back room of a pub. Once I was talking to a friend about it and they said they wished they could do something like that, get up and play a few songs in front of an audience, my immediate thought was "why? it's fucking nothing", followed shortly after by "ohh! that's what he meant by that!"

 

There's been other stuff too over the years. Some self published comics in the early 00s that make me cringe just thinking about them, but I did put something out, which is both something and "fucking nothing". A couple of self published comics a decade later, one of which I'm actually proud of, warts and all - which again is both something and "fucking nothing".

 

I like what I draw now, I eventually got to a point where the thing on the page or on the screen is roughly the same as the thing in my head - it might just look a bit wonky. I'm always trying to improve, but I have the idea in my head that if I never got better from this point on I could still basically draw anything I want. I wish I'd spent more time when I was younger appreciating the process and the making of art or music instead of where it might have led or how it could've been better. I think there's a philosophical component to being an artist - a contradictory balance of dissatisfaction and being in the moment.

 

I don't know if any of that makes sense, but this seemed a semi-appropriate place to post it and I've wasted a chunk of the afternoon typing it out instead of doing any work so I'm posting it anyway.

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On 24/08/2021 at 09:09, moosegrinder said:

Excuse the self pitying bullshit but I hate doing it on social media and I need to scream into the void.

milky bars.JPG

 

It's great how you can now get live, up to the minute updates on how many people don't give a fuck isn't it! No wait, the other thing.

 

Screenshot_2021-08-25-11-29-54-56_59f79da31a87eecf2a0a3a0895b78e7e.thumb.jpg.5ce97855147135a119edfd4ce921e633.jpg

 

I try not to obsess over numbers because ultimately I'm doing this for me, but I do struggle a bit to ignore them at times when I'm feeling down.

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I hope the hearing issues aren't serious CS2x?

 

What i know about CS2x is two fantastic electronic albums, really complex and organic and also he worked with Grace Jones. In terms of achievements of forum users working with Grace Jones would rank high. I mean didn't we knight someone because Steven Spielberg sent him an enthusiastic email?

 

I don't know what success or failure means. I don't want to make money from any of my output, just live as low cost as possible and have the time and energy for it. And just be fulfilled and surprised by it. I have no imagination or any ideas so have been basically amazed thousands of times over 15 years, ending up with stuff that is way beyond anything i could have expected. That can't be arrogant can it? I said i have no ideas! I have a desire to feel something through art, imagery. People are obsessed with status but I'm only interested in the quality of something, not my capacity. Because i'm not trying to sell my services am I so it doesn't matter does it? Sometimes i feel like; in terms of what i do, that's the best i can do. So i have to stress that without being arrogant but people can't be remotely trusted to share the same feelings of apathy and to want something different. Art to me is an antidote to being bombared and surrounded by stuff, a purification.

 

The issue for me because i don't do any art professionally is that it feels like living a double life. It gets worse and worse. I don't mind doing whatever repetitive manual job, i just can't bear being defined by it. I have an obscene amount of stuff that's just there and doesn't mean anything to anyone but which i'm really proud of. To me, art is just meant to be shown. Obviously i do it for myself, but it being seen is also a part of it. Autechre were asked this, and said because there's two of them they're never alone. They can get excited by what the other shows them. That sounds amazing to me, having someone who works on something half finished and twists and reveals new things in it. They also said if they put an album out and only one person gets it that's enough.

 

Somehow, despite doing 3 separate types of art that fit into recognised things i've never been part of any community. I was on mojizu (a character design site) and had 2 comments that spoke of people seeing the slight difference but the site soon died, and that was long ago when i was doing mostly rubbish stuff. The closest i'm getting now is about 4 photographers on deviantart faving, commenting but one admitted it took him ages to get what i was doing. Also I tweeted a media teacher whose work was amazing but then he deleted his twitter and his instagram after many years. Hmm. I just want to be on one of those street photography sites with others, i want to be recognised. 

 

While at work i made the mistake of giving my deviantart link to an older woman i barely know. Well next time she saw me she said; 'are you alright?' with far too much concern, I'm sure she was shaking. She got her daughter to look it up! It made me laugh thinking of them both sat down expecting some nice photos of buildings and then being plunged into this despairing dystopia, and them sat there thinking; why has he sent us here? And by giving her a link it was a cry for help. I don't know. It saddens me i can't share stuff i'm proud of without it seeming i'm emptying my soul but i can't help get a kick out of how jarring it would be because that's what i want art to do; unsettle, unnerve, surprise, jolt. 

 

I showed someone else at work, the sleeping taxi driver if that means anything to anyone reading and she said 'oh...it's kind of scary' and just didn't want to engage more than that. And when i show my parents they go silent. It's awkward, like i'm revealing my soul. I do digital art stuff as well but i don't even bother showing them anymore. Unless you do something that can be sold it has no value, that's the viewpoint of my family. Money is temporary, i don't care. I want to do stuff that in 30 years time i still like. Can't even put 50 years because i'm not sure i'll make it to 74.

 

I mean i don't want to do art professionally, i'm fortunate really it costs me nothing except electricity and cost of travel. No brushes, paint, canvases, no film, no dark room, no studio. I'm fortunate that nothing excites me more in the world than transforming what i have into something else, because that's what it always is. Nothing more exciting than a chunk of days in a city with good light and thousands of shots to go through seeing how they transform. It doesn't even matter if the excitement is a delusion, if it's lowering the level to be able to gain the volume, what matters is it's always interesting and surprising. I think about the poor photographer lugging his heavy tripod up a mountain to tediously get a shot of the sky at a certain time and think i have so much more fun with photography than they do.

 

And then anything i like i can put up on to the internet and people will see it. Not many, and i don't know much i can do before it becomes boring, but it's still an amazing thing to be able to do. I'm lonely but fortunate. I suppose one possibility is patreon but i'll never be popular enough. I could at least guarantee a photo uploaded every day for the rest of my life, so i mean in that regard i'd deliver. People could even say go here this is where i live do here and i'd go there! It doesn't matter, to repeat the same things for the 5th time now, i just want to be fulfilled by the process, and do stuff that's interesting enough that some people maybe anticpate new stuff. That probably sounds a lot, but i know i did of others i liked on instagram so...yeah that's it.

 

Another thing would be to make a videogame, but a genuinely incredible one, not an attempt, but i think of the expertise needed. There's 6 genres of games that just aren't being made and i'm not sure they ever will. I'm not sure i can think of it is as a failure to not do that because until a few years ago i never thought about it. A year ago i said i'd try and i've done nothing.

 

The numbers thing in terms of views...i do think; at what point would i be satisfied anyway. If it's not 20 views but 200 views would that be better. Not really. Any impact individual images have i'll only know if people tell me. A number won't do that.

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Art is bloody great, innit! It’s such a weird thing that I think everybody should have a go at it at some point in their lives. I used to draw when I was a teenager, but I grew up very much in the shadow of my artist step-dad and a sibling who was encouraged to go down that path. As a result I stopped drawing and only got back into it recently during lockdown. It’s actually been really hard sharing my drawings and facing up to the fact that this is something I want to do long term. Family stuff really can mess your head up, but I think I’m out the other side now. Feeling like a failure for me seems to be part of the whole process. While I’m drawing something it’s exciting and I’m driven on to see what it’s gonna look like when it’s done. Then, after the initial thrill of having drawn something fades, I feel like I need to try and draw something better. Im striving to improve, learn new techniques, use new tools, try and develop a style - all in a really small amount of free time to do it in. I know I don’t have the sort of brain that sees something and reproduces it in an strange, brilliant, unique way and I guess that will always leave me feeling somewhat a failure. But, as long as I feel I’m making progress then at the moment that is enough.

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@PocketsI was trying to do some criticisms just so it didn't look like I was gushing just to make you feel better! I think some of the more artificial or jarring sounds don't have quite the effect you think they do. Your production and mix is excellent, so they sound more like oversights. I think if you were doing looser, more old skool stuff I'd buy it more - but as you say, entirely subjective. One thing you should be proud of is that your mixes work very well on smaller speakers with limited ranges, which is very hard to do well (while retaining a good mix on bigger speakers). 

 

I also get not working with other people. Been there, got the wardrobe. But I would consider, in a limited sense, maybe for just an EP using a lyricist or collaborator. Or even approaching someone local who has some raw talent that you could help package up and produce into something for them. A side project if you like. And indeed, it's a bit of a win win as that person will likely put in the hard graft to try to get exposure for it. Maybe it goes nowhere, or maybe it's a good way at getting some ears on your talent without a huge amount of ongoing hassle with people. I think you need to be a little honest with yourself, as while you're projecting the "I'm doing it for myself" vibe I don't think I entirely believe you :D The posts above show that I think you'd like a little external validation for the effort you've put in (which is natural). Doing things for yourself is fine, but ultimately we do like other people (who we don't know) thinking they're cool.  And I think to get to that stage you might need to relinquish a little bit of control. Whether you want that hassle is up to you, of course!

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On 26/08/2021 at 08:09, SpagMasterSwift said:

Art is bloody great, innit! It’s such a weird thing that I think everybody should have a go at it at some point in their lives. I used to draw when I was a teenager, but I grew up very much in the shadow of my artist step-dad and a sibling who was encouraged to go down that path. As a result I stopped drawing and only got back into it recently during lockdown. It’s actually been really hard sharing my drawings and facing up to the fact that this is something I want to do long term. Family stuff really can mess your head up, but I think I’m out the other side now. Feeling like a failure for me seems to be part of the whole process. While I’m drawing something it’s exciting and I’m driven on to see what it’s gonna look like when it’s done. Then, after the initial thrill of having drawn something fades, I feel like I need to try and draw something better. Im striving to improve, learn new techniques, use new tools, try and develop a style - all in a really small amount of free time to do it in. I know I don’t have the sort of brain that sees something and reproduces it in an strange, brilliant, unique way and I guess that will always leave me feeling somewhat a failure. But, as long as I feel I’m making progress then at the moment that is enough.

 

I wish I got this. I just coast. I know what I need to do to get better but I just don't want to do it, so I end up churning out stuff that's just good enough. I don't even want to be a famous artist, or work in an industry concept arting, I'd just like to be able to consistently make enough money to not feel like I've wasted the last decade and have to go back to hating myself every single day in retail.

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But I've always felt that the moment you try to turn a hobby into a living, it the moment you stop doing what you want and start hating it. 

Until you get to the level of Hurst and Emmen where you can have half a shark in a tank or an unmade bed in the national gallery. You will have to take commissions and sell your soul. Better to find a level that makes you happy and stick to that, than start trying to make a name for yourself. Fly under that radar and let the kids live off the back catalogue when it gets discovered after your death ;)

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 26/08/2021 at 00:52, Loik V credern said:

I hope the hearing issues aren't serious CS2x?

 

What i know about CS2x is two fantastic electronic albums, really complex and organic and also he worked with Grace Jones. In terms of achievements of forum users working with Grace Jones would rank high. I mean didn't we knight someone because Steven Spielberg sent him an enthusiastic email?

 


Thank you for the kind words! (And I very much enjoyed reading the rest of your post on the topic too, along with the others following it.) I especially love what you wrote here:

 

“...I don't know what success or failure means. I don't want to make money from any of my output, just live as low cost as possible and have the time and energy for it. And just be fulfilled and surprised by it. I have no imagination or any ideas so have been basically amazed thousands of times over 15 years, ending up with stuff that is way beyond anything i could have expected. That can't be arrogant can it? I said i have no ideas! I have a desire to feel something through art, imagery. People are obsessed with status but I'm only interested in the quality of something, not my capacity.”

 

This is a place I was increasingly coming to, or rather have tasted and want to arrive at more: where certain results or whether you are “good” at something isn’t the point or even a relevant question, but being amazed and discovering as you make is the point. That’s why a track becomes boring when it’s beginning to become something too specific or predefined, because now you’re working towards a shape you already know and aren’t learning new things as you go on making. Of course there’s a place for working towards predefined goals and meeting another’s expectations in a set project, and it’s no bad thing to have learned how to make what others (or your brain) conceptualises ahead of time (that’s inevitable with time), but pure discovery / “finding” ideas seems more fun. 

 

Unfortunately though, in answer to your question, the hearing issues for some reason hit a whole new unbearable level about two months ago (either due to a weird still unexplained reoccurring ear infection, continual antibiotics to treat that infection, another medication, or someone screaming near me, or all the above.) It has been tough. Things are slightly better now, however, and there has been a little music making. And I am on an arts residency in Berlin, which is fun, although I don't altogether "understand" this world or its expectations / language very well at all...which is funny in light of this thread and analysis about why we create! 😄
https://www.adk.de/en/academy/young-academy/berlin-fellowship/2021/KristinaBuch_RobertLogan_en.htm

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 20/11/2020 at 04:23, CS2x said:

It also seems helpful to be reminded of the inherent value of working hard in rendering ideas that fascinate you, regardless of what happens with them later, in contrast to what seems to be the prevailing message today. 

 

 

 

I find this interesting - Previous to being a commercial/ professional designer I found it relatively easy to be creative for shits and giggles. I was just doing stuff for myself, no aims, user needs, no client to satisfy. As soon as I started working professionally I found it impossible to just create something. To noodle with something for the hell of it. Unless it was a tutorial or a new process. Basically being a professional removed the ability to enjoy being creative for creative sake.

 

In regards to sharing stuff - I never like it. I over think things. I always see the mistakes in my work, the smoke and mirrors that hide my lack of ability/ talent. The thing I’ve created is not what I wanted it to look like, its what I was able to create. I’ve spoke ad infinitum on the form before about Imposter Syndrome; I really get quite bitter sometimes when ruminating on my career, comparing myself to my peers from previous jobs or folk I knew at Uni. I very much have the outlook that I should be HERE now… and how much I have ran away from challenges rather than running forwards into opportunities.

 

As far as social media - I use things like Dribbble and Behance (two visual design focused communities) but I never post on them. I just use them for inspiration. I have my own portfolio site but that’s just there for job hunting and when I’m in a role I’ll do nothing with it until I get the itch to find a new role.

 

I do photography for fun, but that has started to grow arms and legs and its not as fun as it was. I recently upgraded my camera from an entry level Nikon with a few lenses to a Sony semi pro beast for a substantial wedge of cash. Now I have all this (internal pressure) to use this camera, to use it to its full extent. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve seriously considered selling it as it just feels like more self flagellation. Basically its not fun, so why am I doing it. Not to mention the pile of shame that is photos that need editing and then the inevitable posting to Instagram.

 

Instagram is the only proper big social media account I still have; I sacked off Facebook a good 5-6 years ago and also Twitter. But I do find Instagram to be a soulless experience as a creative. You craft something, sweat blood and tears over it. Edit and re-edit the caption and the tags and then hit post. You get a few likes and then its yesterdays news, todays chip wrappers. Its not cherished by those that see it. Its just some Generation Game conveyor belt of content that keeps on moving. The fundamental problem with Instagram is that its not for photographers. Its for people to share moments and memories. Its not photography gallery, its not something that is being referred back to. I’d really like to just kill off instagram but I know my wife likes to see my photography up there. She has her own account and whilst just shooting with her mobile she’s getting really decent and she enjoys posting things after a hike etc. For her its just posting things, its not some sort of uber creative investment. I on the other hand, can’t make that disconnect. Its not casual. Its like its another portfolio, another statement of my worth/ of my skill. Its another way to be judged by my peers.

 

I watched an interesting video posted by a photographer on Youtube this morning. The gist of it being she’s removed herself from social media. She was always comparing herself to others, started to notice the same style/ composition/ colour grading being used by everyone. She also mentioned YouTube (and this is the kicker for me) that she would watch tutorials about new processes, methods but would never actually implement them. She would just keep browsing and watch/ hoard more tutorial videos. I find myself doing this all the time. Also watching a beginners guide to X when I am not a beginner. I mean, hell.. I’ve been a designer for over 20 years and I’ll sit and watch beginners guide to typography. Its like I don’t value my skill level or experience.

 

The other thing I just want to say is that I am such a cunt for look over someone else’s work/ photography/ YouTube content and slag it off. Not publicly, just sitting there tutting under my breath how that’s crap/ half arsed… These are the people who are putting themselves out there and all I can do is slag them off rather than be inspired to post more and get feedback/ grow as a creative and as a person.

 

Recently I spent a small fortune on buying some Warhammer 40k minis, paints and various other tat. I used to paint 25+ years ago and every few years I’d deep dive back into the hobby with YouTube vids but never actually pull the trigger. I guess lockdown and the pandemic has had an effect on a lot of us to make time for new things, to relax rather than run around like a dick. The bugger for me is that my fear of failure or professionalism is so strong that if its not right/ perfect its shit. Of course this is impossible. I’m not going to pick up a mini for the first time in decades and just bash out some amazing paint job. But rather than seeing it as a journey, something to progress with I’ve just fallen into another YouTube time vampire of watching countless (and conflicting) tutorials and not actually doing anything.

 

Quote

What I come across instead is creators keeping up appearances, along with an endless array of ads and workshops selling you tricks on how to "make it" and hit those numbers. I’ve never even heard of anyone giving up or admitting to feelings of giving up, but surely that happens?

 

 

Since the pandemic it appears every man and his dog is doing an online workshop, content pack or Lightroom preset bundles. I can understand that those that suddenly found themselves in a shit place with work/ finance got off their asses and made work for themselves I think a lot of it is engineered to make you think you are shit without this special sauce.

 

On 21/11/2020 at 13:19, aeroflott said:

Organic growth is the key. I think as soon as you start chasing validation, you're on the wrong path, and you'll be compromising your usual standard of output, chasing your tail for the next like. If what you do is good, the people who you want to see it, will do so eventually.

 

This. I see so much crap about how to utilise/ trick the instagram algorithm and I don't know how anyone can be arsed with it. Its like whackamole. Within a few days they'll just change the bloody formula. It just sounds exhausting trying to keep up with all this shite.

 

On 08/09/2021 at 13:05, Sidewaysbob said:

But I've always felt that the moment you try to turn a hobby into a living, it the moment you stop doing what you want and start hating it. 

 

I find with photography the only pressure is from me, internally. Occasionally if we go somewhere nice and its amazing light, conditions then there's a pressure to capture it for my wife. But again thats all on me, she's not the one putting that pressure on me. I feel that as soon as you start working as a photographer its a whole different ball game. People will have very definitive ideas of look and feel, angles, shot list etc. I'd be crapping it that i'd miss something. I get the same feelings when I'm doing UX workshops with stakeholders (@mexos I'm sure you have the same Oh fuck did we capture that moments). As soon as you start doing it for someone else there is a lot of pressure and its no longer fun, its you providing a service. 

 

As a footnote to my rant above I’ve now moved from a visual design role (graphic design, branding, UI design) into a UX role (done this for the past year). There is zero creative input; its all based around government design systems (.gov) so yeah, its nada on the visual front. Its basically designing with pre made lego components. Nice people to work with and I get paid a hell of a lot more than as a visual designer. But I now feel trapped (by the salary) and devoid of any creative spark. But I have a job in an uncertain time and I should really STFU.

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