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Dodging The Limelight

A Facebook friend recently posted this quote from a show he watches, “Madam Secretary,” which spurred me to write today’s blog post:

“In this world of relentless self promotion, we have all been raised to think that the limelight is the only light worth seeking, but that isn’t the case… Achievement is often anonymous. Some of the greatest things have been done by people you have never heard of, quietly dedicating their lives to improving yours.”

It really made me think of some of my painter friends who are really hung up on being “discovered,” becoming well known or even “famous” among their peers.
I’d just like to remind those of you who may be caught up in this notion that your worth is tied to how well known you are, that you are worth so much more than the sum total of your Facebook likes and YouTube subscribers! 
Those of you who know me probably know that I’m an introvert…I am really uncomfortable when put into any sort of limelight. Sheesh, it took me this long to finally create a YouTube channel where I’m actually talking to the camera in just a few videos, ha!
I didn’t want to sign up for any team sports or clubs in high school, but when my mom told me I needed to have some school activity for my scholarship applications, I signed up to be on the tech team for the school play, “Oklahoma.”  I got to work behind the scenes, designing, building and painting sets.  I got to be creative without an audience, I wasn’t on stage for performances, and I didn’t take a bow to roaring applause. Nobody in the audience knew I had done anything…it was PERFECT.  I got to see how my behind-the-scenes work enhanced the experience for theater-goers, and that was the icing on the cake!
Sure, I am totally flattered to find out that one of my painting idols has “liked” one of my paintings, just like anyone else, and there is definitely a sense of pride felt when I see my work published in a magazine.  Everyone likes and deserves a little recognition for a job well done!  However, my point is, don’t let it define you, and don’t waste all your energy trying to become more visible among your peers.  Just think of the amazing work you can do by redirecting that energy toward improving your own craft?!  Or better yet, helping others improve theirs? If you’re looking for more gigs, redirect that energy into becoming known by your community and potential clients, and you’ll see a literal payoff.
I like to think that last line of the quote above is me, “quietly dedicating my life to improving yours.”  Since I started painting a couple decades ago, I’ve found the most joy and contentment in helping other painters.  Being that I love design, and I love staying out of the limelight, I started publishing my books to help other artists.  I listen to what my peers are curious about, and I publish e-newsletters and blog posts in an attempt to help.  I’ve hosted countless jams in my home, and I learn something new from my friends every. single. time.  Something awesome happens when you let go of the popularity contests, humble yourself, help others grow and let them help you do the same! (See blog post: “Never Settle for Being the Best!”)  Ironically, it just might lead to that limelight you tried so hard to avoid in the first place. 😉
Now that my books are becoming so well known worldwide, I’m being asked to emerge from my basement studio to teach.  Last week I taught in New Jersey at the Northern NJ Face and Body Art Guild.  It was awesome!  This fall I’ll be teaching at the JAMvention in Belgium.  All of these amazing things are happening not because I’m trying to “get out there.”  God has a path laid out for me, and I’m just trying my best not to let my introvertedness scare me off that path.  😉 My one goal is to follow THAT path, the one that is clearly not laid out by myself because it’s clearly uncomfortable…not the path of comparison or likes or popularity.  And the ironic thing is, I’m finding some people outside the Twin Cities Metro Area actually have heard of me regardless! That’s cool.  Not defining, not the end goal, but kinda cool, and confirmation that you can still go places without a constant stream of self promotion if you are simply doing what you are meant to do.
When it comes down to it, being well known by other painters doesn’t really get you more business.  What really matters for your business is making children smile, creating an experience they will talk about for years, and leaving them wanting more of you.  The average party planning mom has no clue who those famous Facebook and YouTube sensations are in the face and body art world, and they have never heard of the FABATV instructors we gush over at conventions. Remember when you enter a home for a birthday party, YOU are the star! YOU are the big surprise for the birthday boy! YOU are going to transform a little girl into a real princess! So walk in there with all the confidence in the world, like the superhero you are. 
Thanks for stopping by, and happy painting!! 🙂