musings, writing

I’m Not a Brand

This month I have felt conflicted creatively. More and more when I write, take pictures or create art I am pushing myself to share it online. Do I want to make money off of it? The short answer is: of course. But there’s a more nuanced answer that is also true.

I want what every person wants, I want to be able to live my life and have the means to support that life. Which means that I do have a desire to find an avenue which allows for compensation based on work I am doing. As such, I do spend time reading up on methods to optimize the success of my ventures. I am supposed to find ways to connect with my audience, to enter the right tags in order to optimize the traffic I receive. My author bio should identify me to my audience as a brand that arrives pre-packaged and easy to consume.

Perhaps I’m too fibrous. It’s not that I don’t understand how to market myself or how to reduce myself to something that is easily an algorithm. The comprehension is there but the will is lacking. I have enjoyed marketing work and products that are not mine. There is nothing more joyful than discovering a great book or album and reveling in the joy of the experience in front of others hoping that they too can discover that feeling you’re experiencing. It is much less joyful to either attempt an act of narcissism and revel in love of the self or to disengage from the self and view it from outside as though one has fallen in love. Which is to say, I cannot capture the same enthusiasm for branding myself as I can for the things I love.

Perhaps it is years of low self esteem? Judgmental parents? In this world of self promotion it feels as though there is an inherent deficit in the character of anyone who isn’t selling themselves as snake oil. But I don’t care. I find that I don’t care that I’m supposed to walk into a job interview with a spreadsheet of my achievements in order to project a certainty to the interviewer that will push me ahead of everyone else. I don’t care that my art, my writing and my photography is all meant to become part of a coherent branded empire that announces a value system which will motivate wallets to orgasm funds into my bank account.

Like everyone else, I want to be capable of supporting the life I want to live. My life and art are entwined. Fraternal twins. My art isn’t me and I am not my art but we have grown up together sharing environment and DNA. We’re not identical but we are connected.

Who I am is messy. My art is a mess to make sense of but I see the sparks within it of something compelling. The life I have lived hasn’t followed a straight trajectory. I have always created and have always wanted to live a life of creation but there’s no job title or career that I could have prepared for because it all compels me. What I want to accomplish with my work is simple.

I don’t want to be a brand. I want to make things that bring wonder into people’s lives. In my most grandiose visions I am able to provide a way for those numbed by the world to experience it without despair.


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