, ”It soon seemed quite clear to me that all the major personality types had been taken.” Etching on mirror, 2009. From Creative Fidelity
As an artist, as a professional, as a daughter, a sister, a writer, social networking Internet user, as a consumer, a citizen, a girlfriend, and a friend, I deeply believe in the value and power of transparency. Being transparent isn’t something you can do in only your personal or professional life, by its very nature. It inherently means being brazenly authentic in all areas of your life. In audaciously choosing to be exactly who you are, at all times.
There’s more to transparency than simply being yourself. Authenticity is only one part of it. I say this because — and I believe this is true of all ages and stages of life, not just when you’re young — you’re always figuring out what it even means to be authentic, to be yourself. I refuse to believe that anyone, at any given time in their life, truly knows exactly who they are. Humanity — collectively and individually — is dynamic, surprising, full of both beauty and tragedy. And isn’t it true that just when we think we have life figured out, that’s exactly when it pulls the rug out from under us? As a person constantly in search of truth and understanding, and as an artist trying to figure out what kind of artist I am and want to be, I have put too much pressure on myself to ‘understand’ who I am. Just when I think I have myself pegged, I surprise myself. But who wants to be limited like that anyway? So, transparency isn’t really about that. It’s about being open and honest about the process of figuring all that stuff out. It’s about not hiding your process and your opinions and experiences and creations from the world.
Now, there is absolutely something to be said for behaving appropriately according to the setting, but I believe we are subconsciously encouraged to fragment these various pieces of ourselves. This fragmentation that occurs in our communities but also in ourselves — in our identities — is a byproduct of postmodernism, but so is pluralism. So you have to dress professionally, speak less colloquially, or appear more polished in the workplace than you would among friends. This doesn’t mean you’re not being yourself — you’re just being a version of yourself, and you are not one-dimensional anyway!
The funny thing is, once you embrace that openness and bare-chested, here I am world, take me or leave me honesty, once you expose all that you are, are not, wish and hope to be, something beautiful happens: the law of attraction takes hold. Like attracts like, and if you are positive-minded, you will receive positive energy in return. Your openness leads to conversations that are relevant to your interests and ventures and what you put out there into the world. Word spreads. These conversations lead to opportunities. To new connections, new ideas. Your personal openness leads to cultural exchange, professional development, and… lo and behold, a deeper personal understanding. To interdependence and economic viability.
This is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately not just as an artist but as a person who is absolutely fascinated by the conceptual side of branding and self-marketing. The people you have the power to choose to surround yourself with in life (personally and professionally) and who you attract through being transparent and authentic are more likely to get you, support you, and potentially connect you with people like you. Again, you never know who those people could become - new friends, new coworkers, new clients. New art buyers!
Being transparent doesn’t come without a certain level of responsibility and self-editing. Like I said, like attracts like. If you want to receive positive energy, people, ideas, and opportunities, you have to put positivity out there. On an obvious level, that means not complaining about a bad day or otherwise verbally vomiting useless information into a Facebook status update, like what you had for lunch or something. But it also means being a good and uplifting person offline as well. You get what you put in.
As an artist, you’re not just selling your work, you’re selling yourself. Art buyers know they’re not just buying the piece, they’re buying —investing in— a part of the artist. They usually want to know and like the person who made what they’re buying. Similarly, someone doesn’t like my work probably won’t like me, and reflectively, if they don’t like me they probably won’t like my work. That’s okay; I’m not concerned about those people. They are on different paths and ours are not meant to cross, at least not at this point.
Among the artist/entrepreneurial community, I hear a lot of discussion about how to find your market. By being transparent and authentic, you create (unwittingly or not) your niche — you carve out your own slice of the market. You can’t win them all, but you don’t want to! Transparency is a filter and a magnet. This principle applies to all aspects of human interaction. Deliberately be a positive, life-affirming, helpful, transparent person. It’s not just a good way to live your life, it’s the best and most crucial marketing tool you have.