The strangeness of trying to give something away


As it turns out, I’m an artist. An artist that has, luckily, convinced others that he can do art. Thus, I produce covers, interior illustrations, and whatever else folks need. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’m not done beating it into the ground just yet, but it can be an up and down game. One that’s filled with happiness, regret, satisfaction, depression, and quite a lot of other feelings.

Having done this since the late 90’s (published, at least), I can see the trends of my career so far. They are, to say the least, very loopy.

Originally published by Apex Book Company, November 2012

Like any creator spending time doing his shtick, I market myself and my abilities. I Facebook this, and Twitter that, and so on. There are plenty of times when I try to show off my new art, or that a piece is available for sale, or that I have a new publisher.

There are even times when I decide to be extra special SUPER DUPER! nice to my various social networking followers, and give them something for free. Let’s say, if I get one thousand Twitter followers by next month, I’ll give away an ink for free to one of them (note, I’m not, it’s hypothetical). I tweet about that, in as happy a voice as I can in one hundred and forty characters. I even post a link to the piece I’m giving away, to show it’s all for real.

Then I sit back, and wait for a number of them to start following my networks, and happy days it is. Except, the last time I did it, I added a whopping -10 to my followers list.

No, that’s not a typo (I’m saving that for a later paragraph). Ten people saw that I was offering to give them something for free, and it was so egregiously offensive that they immediately jumped ship. It’s not the first time it has happened either, it happens almost every time.

Here is where the confusion starts. No, not the drug-filled hippie confusion (Colorado joke, there), but a genuine confusion of trying to understand the world. I mean, here I am, trying to do something nice, and bad things happen because of it. I try to give something away, and people run off.

Do I not understand what it means to be “nice”? Should I search them out, and give them each a loud, “what the hell” kind of speech? Maybe I should proclaim that I stole a bunch of puppies and ate them for lunch, that this whole marketing thing is a game of opposites.

I truly fail to understand why a free gift is enough to send people running. Sure, being who I am I could question the particular piece I was trying to give away (at right). Maybe folks don’t like the Phantom of The Opera, or Lon Chaney, Sr. (fat chance). It could be they simply don’t like my art, or this particular piece. It might even have nothing at all to do with that piece, they may simply have tired of my constant whining about art, life, and sub-par pornography.

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

There’s no way, short of those folks contacting me directly, that I’ll ever know what the problem was. I can’t really say they don’t matter either, as that wouldn’t be true. It’s important from a marketing side to get a feeling for things, and how they are or are not working.

At the end of the day though (or at the end of a babbling article), I have to continue forth anyway. There was obviously something they didn’t like about the way I did things, and it is always important to examine how I am working the social networking and marketing to improve on my career’s chances to do more art. But that shouldn’t stop me from moving on with things.

It’s not much different than the creation of art itself. I’ll spend time with my techniques, trying new things all the time. If something doesn’t work, I can acknowledge it and move on.

With people though, there’s that expectation, or at least hope, that they will always follow me once they are there. That they believe that I am profound in what I say, or great in how I present myself, or wonderful in my creations. I know I love to hear the praise that I (occasionally) get, it makes my day and makes me want to continue creating.

So, at least a little bit, I take it personally when a group of folks jump ship. I must not be providing what they want, or what they need, and they have moved on to fill those needs elsewhere. Despite my best efforts, it didn’t work out between us.

The trick is to realize that it’s okay, and I can move on with my life and creations. Not everyone will get what I’m trying to say, and that’s fine. If we were all alike, this would be a boring world anyway. I just have to keep moving forward, one step at a time, and show my best side to the world (it’s the right side).

If you ever decide to give up on your creations (something I think about every day), at least you do that on your terms, and not because folks won’t stick around. The fact is, there really are a lot of other people that are listening to what you have to say. Even when they are silent, you can see their numbers online, and occasionally they may even tell you how much they love what you do. They make your day, and you can go on happily creating. Who knows, if you keep at you might just win back those deserters again.

If not, you can always paint them into your next painting, being eaten by rotten zombie monkeys from Planet Dead Monkeys. Then you can try to give away the painting for free, and the circle of life begins again.


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