I know you have a TON of excuses to NOT show your work.
Even though you know you need to do it.
Why show your work?
Showing your work helps you to grow
Whether your creative practice is just a hobby or something you earn an income from. Sharing is an opportunity for feedback and constructive critique.
There’s also something about stepping back and viewing a collection of your work that allows you to discover and refine your creative voice.
Because the act of showing your work is so scary for most of us, in doing it, we are pushed outside our comfort zone. The more we do this, the more evidence we create that showing our work isn’t actually the frightening thing we anticipated. We grow confident, bold and fearless.
Showing your work helps you to connect with your audience – or to build one in the first place.
If you make a living from your work, this is something you want because starting and nurturing relationships is how you get paid. It’s how strangers become fans, fans become customers and customers become ambassadors.
Showing your work is simple
We complicate it as part of our resistance. We convince ourselves that we need perfection and then we envision execution that’s far out of reach. Because the people who’ve been doing this for decades do it that way and we must create nothing less.
Doesn’t it sound like madness when you read this? And yet we do it all the time!
What if we remembered the long game we’ve committed to playing and started where we are? In a way that is ours and so, naturally unique.
Here is some inspiration to get your juices flowing.
9 ways to show your work
In no particular order:
1. Behind the scenes
People love to get involved in the process of how something is made/comes together. It’s inspiring and they get to live vicariously a little too.
It’s also instructive – giving people the opportunity to witness everything that goes into the creation of something can help them to appreciate its value and consequently, its price tag!
2. Work in progress and experiments
Releasing the need to only show finished work helps people to see the human being that you are. The messiness, the inquisitiveness, the uncertainty, the mind-changing, the “mistakes,” the recoveries and the triumph that is creating a piece of art or design.
People connect with people, so being vulnerable in this way is powerful!
3. Finished work
Perhaps the most obvious way but it’s worth mentioning because, how many finished pieces do you have lurking around in drawers, hard-drives, dusty notebooks and beyond?
The parts of your business that may seem incredibly mundane – to you – can be strangely compelling and satisfying to those of us on the outside. Meditative even.
A bonus is that seeing you fulfill orders makes us want to get in on the action too! Making it a great way to show social proof.
Yes, your inventory. Yet another way to give us FOMO and potentially delight those of us who like a bit of organisation porn.
6. On display
Many of us hardly go to brick-and-mortar stores these days. The beauty is that we can access goods from all over the world. The downside is that we rarely get to enjoy a multi-sensory shopping experience. Showing your work on display is one small way to give us a taste of the old days!
This applies to performance arts and experiential design too! You can use multimedia solutions to immerse us in what it’s like to be there.
We buy things that affirm our identity. For that reason, you want to style your goods in a way that resonates with the kind of person your ideal customer sees themself as, or the kind of person they want to be.
8. In context/in use
Give people a taste of what it’s really like to own what you’re selling. Often people’s decision to buy is confirmed the moment they’re convinced something will add functional value to their life.
Make it easy for them to imagine this result.
9. With/on you!
I notice that the posts that get the most engagement on my Instagram feed are the ones with me in them. I‘m working on leaning into this, battling thoughts of “will I seem arrogant?”
I have to keep asking myself what’s most important: sustaining my business or caring what people might think? I invite you to do the same.
Then make time (60 minutes?) to read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It’s fantastic.
And if you catch this early enough, join me for my free 5-day Thriving Artists Challenge where we work on ways to get your money right! Find out more and sign up here.
What ways have I missed?
Let me know in the comments.
Given all that’s at stake, let’s just show our work, shall we?