Does your audience love you? As an artist, whether you are a musician, painter, writer, you get to express yourself through your art. You can beautifully demonstrate your emotion through a song or paint a painful experience and connect with others who have gone through similar things.
You can even write a poem that strikes the right balance of humor and life lessons. But even with all those skills and creative power, you might find yourself downright awkward in social interactions, especially when fans come up to you to express how much they enjoy your work.
Rather than shy away from the public, you should learn to embrace the appreciation your fan base might express. You can use this positive energy to create even more art, and a better connection with people will always lead to a more profound understanding of life and human nature. While it might feel uncomfortable at first, if you use some of these techniques, you can learn to let your audience appreciate you and your art.
You as the artist know your piece intimately. You know what works and you also know all too well what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s the artist’s curse to only see the flaws or the things that aren’t quite what we wanted them to be.
Don’t let these feelings of mistakes or shortcomings translate into your interactions with your audience. It can be difficult to receive praise when all you can see are the problems with your music. Try to view your art through the fan’s eyes and see all the things that are truly beautiful and make the piece work.
Obviously, you aren’t shy around yourself because you have been with you your entire life. But the average fan doesn’t get to meet their artistic heroes all that often and they are probably nervous. These nerves can manifest in many forms, and most of them can make you feel uncomfortable. The Internet and social media have made it all too easy for fans to reach out to their favorite artists and that might mean more awkward encounters.
Perhaps the fan acts like they have known you all their life or maybe they are unknowingly insulting your values or your work. Try not to take these interactions to heart and remember they are just expressing themselves. We are all humans and we all trip up sometimes.
Break Out of Shyness
Many artists tend to be solitary individuals. They work best on their own or need to be alone to focus and work on their art. That’s fine but there are times when you need to break out of your shyness to interact with fans. If you aren’t the best conversationalist, that’s fine. Give others the opportunity to speak first and really listen to what they have to say.
Often you can build on their comments and get a conversation rolling. If they ask you questions, don’t freak out. Perhaps they want to know what your song meant or what song you’re most proud of. Try turning the question back to them and asking what they felt or imagined when they experienced your art. Then comment and talk about their response. You might just learn some new things about yourself and your work.
The Conversation Is Also Your Art
You don’t get to shut down the minute your art is out in the world. In fact, that is just the beginning of your art, and the following conversations give you an opportunity to expand and grow. Once you come off the stage, try not to hide or tune out fans who ask you questions or try to get an autograph.
They all want to connect with you and understand why you did things the way you did. Use this as an opportunity to engage with your fans and show them you are a real and genuine human being. Authenticity always connects people, and an enjoyable experience will make your fans ambassadors of your work and ultimately grow your fan base.
On the other hand, there are times when you should pull away from a fan encounter. Unfortunately, trolls exist and only want to cause distress. If it feels like someone is just trying to get your goat, then gracefully and quickly remove yourself from the encounter. Also, if you ever feel like you are in danger don’t hesitate to get away to safety.
These Are Your People
Unless you are Beyoncé, the people who come to your shows, read your books, or view your art are the ones who support you. All artists can remember a time when they were finding every possible way to get by with the money they had, some are still in that stage of their career now. Keep in mind that your audience is made up of the people who allow you to continue producing your art and sharing it with the world. Understand that even if you feel uncomfortable around your audience, they are still a part of the whole artistic process. If you can push past the discomfort and really listen to what they have to say, you might just find that you become a better creative outlet and make even better art.
No One Wins an Argument
It might be your first instinct to argue with someone who compliments you. Most of us aren’t selfish and accepting a compliment might feel like you are unabashedly basking in your own glory. Even if you don’t agree with the tribute it won’t do you, or your fan, any good to dispute their compliment.
If you put up a fight with their praise or observation, they might feel like you are attacking them personally when in reality you are just trying to deflect your awkward feelings or feelings of inadequacy. Try to accept any compliments you receive graciously. Even a simple thank you is better than a quick, self-deprecating remark.
If you have fans, especially fans that are putting the effort to compliment you and enjoy your work, you are clearly doing something that is right. The art you create is speaking to people, and ultimately, that’s a good thing. Even though it feels awkward, embrace that appreciation and connect with others who might feel the same way as you. Hear how your art affects others and grow from those encounters.
Thanks to Dakota Findley who authored this guest post. Dakota is a creative with passions in visual design and music development. His publications online range from the areas of art, goal setting, technology, money management and beyond.