When we think about creating, we usually consider it to be a one-way conversation: the creator speaks, writes, paints, sculpts, dances, etc. and we listen, read, or view. But as a former museum educator, I have always believed that the viewer (or consumer) completes every work of art. Each person who views and shares an artwork adds a new layer of meaning to that work. You, as the artist, can decide whether or not the interpretations are valid, but once you put your art out in the world, you have relinquished total control over it.
Just like a blog, your art is the start of a conversation. If you had only an audience, you would talk at the audience, they would listen, and then they would go home. Picture an audience. Everyone is facing one way. They don’t see anyone’s face other than those sitting or standing next to them and that of the performer. Audience members might go home and talk about what they saw or heard or read, but they don’t interact with the creator.
In contrast, consider community. That word brings to mind a cozy setting where people are connected in some way. They might even know each other. The setting is more organic, with people looking every which way so that you can see many more faces. You get the warm fuzzies being part of a dynamic community. Your art starts a conversation, community members respond because you’re listening, and you reply to their response.
But the conversation doesn’t end in the community. It spreads. Your community members take the conversation to their blogs and classrooms and coffee shops. In other words, they take them to other communities. Before you know it, your community is bigger than you could have imagined. All because you listened and responded.
( Additional resource: See Actions 12 and 13 in I'd Rather Be in the Studio! for more about sharing your art and building community. )
KNOW THIS———-~> A community is more valuable to you than an audience.
THINK ABOUT THIS—~> What have you done for your community lately?
DO THIS————~> Nurture your community. Every week I nurture the ArtBizCoach.com community by writing this newsletter, recording a podcast, posting to this blog (and trying to keep up with the comments!), tweeting on Twitter, signing in to Facebook, responding to emails, sending Thank You notes, and more.