Yesterday I talked about the nuances of being an artist who’s a fan of another artist — how far that can go. Today I’ll draw you into the next step: How the artist gets to know fans.
How does an artist get to know other fans? Start small. Share some of your work freely (a story, a poem, an article, a good quality photo, comic, or painting. Are you willing to give one away?
I do. I write in many formats, draw, produce performances, and record music and give about 5% of my fiction and poetry away. For my fans, there would still be plenty more works to share, and sell. I still hold the copyright. Sharing some work is a low-res way for people to get to know it and see if it fits them.
And the best part? Because I retain the rights to the stories, I’m not prevented from one day publishing a book of all the stories. And it’s the case. Your true fans would pay for a book of your stories, or a free song on iTunes. Say you craft a series of pillows out of Mexican wool with a half-drop abstract Quetzalcoatl pattern on them. What if gave a video tour of your film studio in a re-purposed silks factory? What if you were a painter, and gave a free podcast about your working methods; how you alternate your medium between encaustic and tempera for every painting because it keeps you shook up and fresh?
This is human nature. A beautiful book, that people can hold, filled with the work of an artist that reaches them. A wonderful song that people can dream to. A print (or an original) of your painting in their home, or publicly displayed. It just makes sense and it’s inevitable that you want to share your work.
Taking this to the next step. If you “know” tens of people, or hundreds, or thousands, or find a way for tens of thousands, or more , then you needed to find the way to communicate who you are to a wide audience first.
So it’s always just people who know you, interacting with your work. They start as drive-bys. They could turn into witnesses, and then turn into fans.
Next week, I’ll put out a series on how you can reach your fans.
Yesterday I mentioned what being a fan of yours means to me economically, and morally. Today I’ll take that ability to contribute to the extreme!
At the furthest end of fandom, I might have put together a project to produceyour work. For me, it’s just been a hundred artists (give or take) I’ve done that with. Some people can do a lot more than I can.
But with a production, I’m now working to make even more people know your work than I’d be able to do just by sharing your project Facebook page, or re-tweeting you.
Producing your work is an extreme level of commitment added to being your fan.
Don’t forget it also means I am still doing the other things — buying your work, talking about your work.
If I produced you, know that even long afterwards, I go to Amazon or to the Bookshop, and buy your latest script; I pick up your prints; I re-tweet you, and Like your pages on Facebook.
Sort of like stalking you, but the way fans do — “stalking” your work.
I’ll talk a little more about the other echoes of what being a fan means tomorrow.
Yesterday I mentioned that if I know you, and if you have work for sale, I’m likely to want to buy it. Because I know you, and your work is part of you, and I want to know it.
And as your fan, only circumstances constrain my spending limit.
If my circumstances are great, I might spend $100 on your print, your ticket, your limited edition. It might be because I have money all the time, or just temporary good fortune.
Or, if money is tight, I might buy your mass-published work for $20, or see your show for $25. If it normally costs more, I might have to opt out, or to wait for a discount.
But if I know you, I want to know your work.
In some cases that’s led to my becoming a super-fan, a fan who’s so avid, I’m almost “rabid.” As a super-fan, I tell everyone about your work, because I think if they know you, they’ll know what I know, from knowing you.
Tomorrow I’ll explore the limits of what I would give when I’m a truly avid fan.
Here’s something I wish more artists would say to each other. Many do. But many do not.
“Since I know you, if your work isn’t published, send me two, and I’ll fully expose myself to your work, and we are now in touch.
If they are published, I’ll buy two.”
If I know you, I generally buy your work if it’s being sold, because I know you.
It’s not just artist financially or morally supporting artist. It doesn’t matter if our politics coincide or even if I feel a natural inclination to your work. It’s communicating. It’s being open, exposed to eyes and voices.