Friday, September 02, 2011

We Must All Strive to Be Excellent

ex·cel·lent   [ek-suh-luhnt] Show IPA
adjective
1.
possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good.
2.
Archaic . extraordinary; superior.


(via www.dictionary.reference.com)

This entry isn't an easy one to write. I feel pressured to make it live up to it's title, to be 'excellent'. However, an unwritten post is almost always going to be worse than a written one, so I need to take the plunge.

Excellence can be measured in a variety of ways. I dare not speak of how to be an excellent artist, although I can urge everyone interested to practice. I cannot write on how to be an excellent writer, but I urge you all to try and write as often as possible. I am barely just learning how to be an excellent human being, and I thought it would be interesting and excellent to share these thoughts with you.

The internet provides us a variety of ways to easily add a little excellency to our daily lives. Twitter offers a chance to say a kind word to a stranger easily, Facebook keeps us in touch with our loved ones (and not so loved ones) and a simple 'like' wellplaced can do so much, Blogger and Tumblr allow us to share not only what we have done, but to bring publicity and limelight to others struggling in obscurity. We can easily share a little piece of happiness, with no more than a passing glance and a warm half smile.

For every kindness the internet offers, there's an ugliness. Anonymous attacks on aspiring artists, a quick kick in the pants and a voiceless jeer that comes from the shadows. Anonymous posting allows for an easy, painless snark on someone's blog, Twitter offers the opportunity to tear someone down from your toilet seat, and Tumblr is perfect for the ad nauseum repetition of bad art at the artist's expense. We should try to be above all this, because as artists, we are the weavers of dreams. We should try to be as wonderful as the stories we hope to create.

It is a lie to say it costs little to be a good person. It costs much. You have to give up taking pleasure at the expense of others, a cheap and easy resort when our spirits are low, you must reach out to people, sacrifice yourself. There are no cheap tricks, no easy routes, just hard work. You need to take pride in what you do, and believe in yourself, otherwise it's easy to be led astray.

I made a resolution when I started my Twitter account that I would keep the negativity to a minimum. The world is full of negativity, I didn't need to add any. And when I became serious about my blog, I resolved to contribute more to the interverse than just my art. I would contribute content. Free of charge. I would share what I have learned through my own hard work FOR FREE. When I started doing cons, I resolved to be the sort of artist I would want to purchase from- friendly, outgoing, and kind.

I still have a long way to go before I am an excellent person. A lot of vices to ween out, a lot of whining to eliminate. One of my goals is to encourage other artists to make our world the sort of world they want to live in, our social sphere the sort of encouraging, warm place we all hoped it would be.

Here are some ways that you can help:

Follow Friday is a pretty popular thing on Twitter, where account holders recommend other accounts to their followers. That's an act of generosity in and of itself. Take it a step further- instead of just providing a list of people with no explaination, tell your followers WHY these people are so great. I'm a bit selfish with my Follow Fridays, I usually recommend people that I both follow and that follow me back, people I respect who produce work that I admire. It's the Nattosoup seal of approval saying that if you enjoy my work, you will probably enjoy theirs.

When writing your blog, make sure you cite images and work properly, so your guests can backtrack to the original source. This goes doubly for Tumblr, as it's so easy to repost things. Isn't it important that the original artist get all the credit they deserve?

When critique is requested, offer yours, even if you're not sure you're suited for it. It doesn't take an artist to notice an obvious flaw in artwork, and often the original artist is too close to the piece to see it for himself. If you have received critique, be gracious, thank the person, and pay it forward for the next time.

Be selfless when sharing information. You may lose your cutting edge, but the respect you gain is often worth the loss. Tweet it, blog it, write up a tutorial.

Spread the wealth. Support other artists. Contribute to kickstarter projects. Buy from the artist alley. Even a $5 sketch means so much. Help other artists when they are in need.

For a studio and watch out for each other. Share opportunities. Introduce your studio friends to your online friends.

Say 'yes' to opportunity and responsibility, but ONLY IF YOU CAN HANDLE IT. Don't feel pressured to say 'yes' to obligations you cannot fulfill. It's easier for the powers that be to find a replacement at the beginning than at the end.

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