Who Do We Create For When We Create?

Abstract watercolor painting

When you create your art, your ideal customer isn’t anything like you. Why? Because you are the expert even though you don’t think you are.

This advice was given to me in a business workshop and it changed how I thought about who I’m creating art for. We put in the hours to make our creations because we’re passionate about learning our craft. We’ll study the little details that often go unnoticed by others even after a five- or ten-minute look at the artwork.

We often don’t do this because we expect to get paid. We do this because our soul craves it. We were born makers, crafters, and artists. We’ll postpone picking up something from the store, cooking dinner, or sleeping just for one minute more with our craft.

When we talk about our craft, we can go for hours about the often-overlooked details that your craft in a huge way. Our family, friends, and loved one’s eyes may glaze over, but our passion will keep us talking. We’ll keep going strong even as they stare at us with that look that should let you know they’re going to come up with any excuse not to talk with you about your craft ever again.

When you create your art, your ideal customer isn’t anything like you. If not, then who is it? Sometimes, it’s a person who is an earlier version of you when you first started learning your craft. Sometimes, it’s a person opposite of you, yet sees something familiar and comforting or inspiring in your work.

It’s the voice of resistance as Stephen Pressfield describes in The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Resistance causes us to think that we shouldn’t show our creations to the world. If we overcome that, then resistance causes us to think we should create only for people just like us.

If we fall into this line of thinking, then we’ll miss connecting with an old soul because we’ve dismissed him because he’s half our age. To do so means we’ll never realize that he knows more about the time that you lived through that inspires your work than yourself. Falling into this line of thinking also causes you to miss painting a flower and capturing the spirit of a woman’s sixty-year marriage because you’ve not reached out to her because you’ve only been around for thirty-something years and think “what can I offer her?.”

I’m now grateful that when we create our art, our ideal customer isn’t anything like us. Why? Our creations are like a baby It’s a gift for the world born out of our passion and love. They are an independent entity that we birthed into the world only to watch it takes on a life of its own. I’ve found that when I put all of my heart, body, and soul into my creations and send them off into the world the people and situations that find my creations gift my spirit with what I need to keep going when everyone and everything else feels as if they have disappeared. 

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