WHAT I LEARNED FROM CHARIOTS OF FIRE

I’m reprinting this article I wrote on June 2, 2005, because it bears repeating. (And because it’s so hard to find on my old blog at RadioUserland…)

I’m doing a series of articles at Fine Art Views, an art marketing blog I write for. I realized this post is still timely when talking about marketing our art.


CHARIOTS OF FIRE and the World Batik Conference

In a few weeks I’ll be presenting a speech at the World Batik Conference at Boston College of Art.

I’m speaking on self-promotion for artists, specifically the art of press kits and press releases.

The time is limited, and the message must be succinct. I asked one of the organizers what she felt I had to say would be the most value to their audience.

She didn’t even have to think about it. She said, “In other countries, there is a huge cultural bias against putting your art forward, of appearing too proud of your work. It’s seen as bragging or being boastful. People have a difficult time thinking about promoting their art and themselves. Can you address that?”

I’ve been thinking of it ever since. It’s not just artists in some other countries who have that bias.

It can be very hard to convince most people—especially women, especially artists—that it is not only desirable, it is essential we put our art out into the world at every opportunity. That it is not a selfish act, but an act of generosity.

In fact it is the greatest gift–the ultimate gift–we can make to the world.

My favorite line from the movie “Chariots of Fire” is when the missionary/runner Eric Liddell explains to his sister why he will indeed compete in the 1924 Olympics, though it seems to conflict with their religious goals and plans:

I believe God made me for a purpose; but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt; to win is to honor Him.

When we are given a gift, we must remember that the pleasure the giver gets is anticipating and enjoying the pleasure the gift will give us.

To renounce the gift, to deny its potential, is to ultimately negate the spirit in which it was given. No good comes of that. Love, real love, is not served by that.

I truly believe it is the same with the gifts we are born with. Whoever/whatever you feel is the source of that gift—God (by any name or names), nature, DNA, random chance, the Force. It appeared in Y*O*U. It’s part of what makes you…you know…YOU.

And note that the gift may not simply be what we are good at, but what gives us joy. Don’t confuse talent with passion. They may both be involved in the gift. But what really drives our watch is not the precise movement of the second hand but the spring inside. (Or the battery. Or the electricity coming through the cord. Oh, never mind….)

Find what you are put here on earth to do. Find what gives you joy. Do it, and share it whenever possible with others. Tell it to the world. Show us. Don’t even pretend you know what ripples it will make, or how it will all play out—we can’t know that.

But know that whatever creative force in the universe you celebrate, will be pleased.

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5 Comments

Filed under art, courage, craft, creativity, inspiration, marketing, press release, self promotion, Tell Me A Story, telling your story

5 responses to “WHAT I LEARNED FROM CHARIOTS OF FIRE

  1. I wrote a post yesterday that speaks to this. “Live what you love” was the message and that is all about the passion and honoring the talent that you have. People always ask me where I went to “art” school to do what I do (and what I do is something a lot of people can do). I tell them that I have a “GGA”. They nod and appreciate the seemingly important weight of that label I just gave myself. I can always see them calculating in their head what that might be.

    Then I tell them that I have a “God Given Ability”… and I am not afraid to use it!

    Thank you for always inspiring me to dig a little deeper and focus my thinking, Miss Luann!

    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

  2. What a terrific shot in the arm you are today, Luann! It’s usually a well-meaning person who is terribly biased who tells me I have a gift to give the world. But what I hear you saying is that I must tell myself that when I get muddled about self-promotion.
    “ONWARD and get frames for all this stuff,” is what I am saying now to myself. Got to sell stuff and get frames…never mind the modesty baloney. :)

  3. Luann-
    glad YOU shared this post! i really love thinking of everything as a gift,,the entire world..all of Life as a treasure worth celebrating, and especially art which deeply honors our connection to one another.

  4. Well stated! How happy we are when we are exercising our talents and sharing them with others!

  5. Your article is the “shot-in-the-arm” that I need right now. There are so many great painters out there, I’m afraid of looking inferior if I “brag” about my work. But I am going to be more aggressive and give it a try. I have not done much painting for a couple months due to health problems. That has done some damage to my self-esteem also. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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