Last night marked the first Cross Stone Creative Open House at our suite located at the Stutz Business Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. We were one of many Stutz tenants participating in the 24th Annual Stutz Artists Open House and our first time was a great experience! Thousands of people showed up in rain, thunder, and lightning to participate in this event celebrating art, creativity, and the spirit of a group of people sharing their gifts with the world in many unique ways. We were delighted to host a few hundred people in our suite and talk to many artists and art lovers about their passion for creative expression. It was a great night!
From our very first visitor onward, I was struck by the enthusiasm the attendees had for artisans and artists of all styles. The event typically attracts about 6000 people and these art lovers were hungry for the new and interesting. In our suite, we had tremendous interest in our authors and our stained glass artisan, while also receiving kind inquiries and compliments on our furnishings, branding, the view from our windows over Indianapolis, and the vintage beauty of the Stutz itself. Attendees noticed everything!
As the evening rolled on, it became clear to me that there is an amazing demand for the new and the interesting. Attendees had a clear appetite for the craft of the artisan, the ideas of the creative, the words of the author and poet, and the designs of the expressive in all of their forms. Niche interests appeared in the questions we received as the curious gave form to the things that move them and their desire to be touched by beauty of all shapes, colors, and dimensions. Many were not only interested in looking but also looking to buy things that moved them.
Conversations moved from art lovers to the artists themselves. We had a full house in our suite all night so I was unable to visit any other studio during the entire evening. However, within the group visiting us, I discovered numerous artists, artisans, and authors in disguise. Painters, poets, sculptors, metal workers, and creatives of all flavors came through our doors and many kept their craft to themselves. Most of them were “amateurs” who used their art as an outlet; living their day in a “normal” job and returning to their craft for the joy of it. Many of them also felt that they wanted to do more with it; that they wanted to share it with the world in some way but were not sure how. They were not sure who would be interested or how to find them. In some cases they had tried to share their art but felt that their efforts had failed – that no one was interested. Then they stopped trying to share.
What a shame.
For every artist with a cool studio and a collection of art hanging on the wall, there are dozens of quiet artists keeping their gifts to themselves. Why? Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. What if no one likes it? What if I’m no good? What if no one cares? What if… I understand. We fear what the answers to those questions might be. Rejection of my art is rejection of me, right? No. It isn’t. You are not your art. But that matters little if you aren’t sharing it – there is no risk. You are safe. No one can disapprove or criticize. The problem is: that safety doesn’t abate the longing to express yourself and share your gifts.
However, there is another “what if” that needs to be addressed. What if your work touches someone? What if your craft makes a difference? What if your words move a single person to be more, to feel comfort, or to be entertained? Will that justify the risk? The question is not: how do I become a commercial success and win the artistic lottery? The question is: how do I move people, make a difference, and get the opportunity to make more art? Sharing your art does not have to be an all-or-nothing leap into the world of success or failure. Sharing your art might be a journey of keep-your-day-job, trial and error, self-discovery, self-improvement, and modest difference making leading to the chance to do it again.
So I ask: what are you waiting for? Not sure if you’re any good? What is “good’ anyway? How will you ever know until you put yourself out there and test it? Most of us will not be the next Michelangelo, J.K. Rowling, or Georgia O’Keeffe. So what? We live in a world of micro-niches, communities of interest, and social media. Our craft will most likely not appeal to everyone. That’s OK, we just need to find our audience. Even if it is a couple of individuals. People are hungry to be moved. They are hungry to be touched by something new and meaningful. What are you waiting for?