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Why You Must Show Your Work | Chase Jarvis & Austin Kleon Speak To Your Fears

By Kishore Sawh on March 25th 2016

This is a helluva topic and one that speaks right to the heart of many, many people of an artistic nature. We’re strange creatures the lot of us – creatives – often existing in a state of conflict where we both desire and abhor attention. We want the right kind of attention, and when we’ve poured our utter soul into something, a disparaging word can cut deep enough to warrant its own country tearjerker. 

But we do usually want the attention and the validation it can bring (if this is your bread-and-butter vocation). Most of us don’t choose to live our artistic life in a monastic Vivian Maier kind of way, but many of us fear the negative rhetoric that our work may spawn, and the fear can make for a very isolating creative life.

On the flip-side, some feel that even if their work was pushed out, there’s so much out there anyway that no one would notice; and true, it’s a noisy world and it’s hard to get your message to break through. Either way, however, you’re never going to break through or get validation or get better if you don’t put your work out there for people to see. There are deep routed benefits to why you should show your work, but perhaps it best comes from Austin Kleon and co-founder of CreativeLiveChase Jarvis.

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In a recent Chase Jarvis RAW episode, Chase and Austin wax philosophical about the virtues of showing your work, and why you really need to. Austin’s an author of a book of the same name as the topic (find it here) but in the video, the pages are distilled into three very key concepts and reasons for showing your work to the public, and they include:

  • Documenting the chronicle that is your work timeline, so you can see where you are, from where you’ve been, and build accountability.
  • It’s an authentic way to share your work, and the work becomes something living that people can see evolve. Austin suggests people are equally as interested in how the work is done as they are in the finished product, and by sharing the process, they get to know you and your work more intimately.
  • With a big bold sign, both Chase and Austin chime in on the adage that the only thing worse than being noticed, even in a bad way, is not being noticed – that sharing your work will help you break through from obscurity. I absolutely love the tagline ‘Block Obscurity Not Haters’.

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Crucially, they don’t deny that you’ve got to have a thick skin and an understanding that there will be haters but do remind you that it’s an indication of progress. This is a hard concept to grasp for some, and one that may always make you uneasy, but it shouldn’t put you off.

[REWIND: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT PROBLEM PLAGUES OUR COMMUNITY | ADVICE ON HOW TO DEAL]

It’s a short watch, but as always with Chase, it’s poignant, so there’s no fat to trim, just a few minutes of meat.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Devin Robinson

    great post! I think its easy to sit back and wait. for my i kind of live by the ideology of “honing your craft in obscurity” because wants the time is right, I want to be able to perform really well. And in obscurity its easier to fail and no one notices. I do think feedback is the breakfast of champions though. So, let haters hate!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I’m with you there Devin, generally preferring to hone in privacy, but the more I work the more I see that as you progress and get better you’ll possibly consider some of what you’re ok sharing now, inappropriate to share in the future because you’ve gotten better and even what you loved then isn’t quite so good now. It’s odd. But I think sharing more of your current best is probably helpful. And yes, let the haters hate. ^&$K em.

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