Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When Your Efforts Go Unnoticed

Before I dive into providing the ho-hum contextual background of today's topic, I want to pose the primary question to think about. If it feels like you're failing at an endeavor with a given set of techniques, when do you decide to try a different approach? Okay, now that the thought to ponder has been seeded, let's dive into the pond.

After a long day, I'm feeling tired and cranky. The day started out with a failed interview which I suspect was doomed before I even stepped foot into the interview office. Inflated egos are not uncommon to encounter in one or more people I meet during an interview loop. Regardless of the scenario, when I encounter boisterous people, it's something I don't enjoy dealing with. After returning home and dealing with the typical feelings that arise, I had to tackle another difficult problem. This is the type of problem that makes my head hurt thinking about it. And to top it off, a long-standing problem has been bothering me lately. Suffice to say, the last  few days have been less than stellar so it's time for a grump-session.

I have to scratch my head and wonder about things at times. What am I rambling about? I posted a picture over on Pixdaus in my gallery. The picture is stylish in my opinion. Basically it's a silhouette of my niece with the Puget Sound and the Olympics as the backdrop. The photo received a grand total of three votes which is fairly weak. But that's not what's making me scratch my head.

When I uploaded my photo, someone else uploaded six photos which had slices of bread as the subject. Okay, so I kind of get it. The plainness of it stands out. A person can look at it and say, "It's funky in an off kilter way so I'll give it a vote”, especially because it was cleverly tagged with “blah”, “boring” and “bland”. But considering each of the bread photos received at least 7 votes each, it confuses me to no end. Mind you, it's not a huge difference in votes but I'm having difficulty ascertaining why my silhouette photo did so poorly. I don't know, maybe my photo is an over used scenario or has too harsh of a contrast.

It's not that I'm calling foul, but come on, a slice of bread on a white paper background is kicking my backside! I feel like I wonder if I'd have more luck by taking a dump on piece of toilet paper and post a picture of that. And to add insult to injury, quite a few of the photos other people uploaded around the same time were receiving on average somewhere between 20 to 40 votes. That kind of rules out bad timing. If the other photos were pulling down numerous votes, people were definitely browsing past my picture. I'd chalk this up as live and learn but I'm really struggling to extract something useful to learn from this other than developing a thicker skin about being ignored.

On a positive note, I will give the Pixdaus site admins a lot of credit for trying to give one of my photos a fighting chance. They posted my dragonfly photo as a staff pick. Too bad the poor little critter couldn't get any traction against the herd though. My fly-boy languished in points by at least a two-thirds margin behind the others typically. Such is life. I'm just grousing, that's all. Photos are hard work to take and it's kind of a bummer when I watch other people cherry-picking professionally shot photos. Nothing wrong with sharing beautiful photos but it's kind of hard for an amateur photographer to go up against photos shot by a stand-in-proxies who are producing National Geographic quality photos.

I suspect I need to alter my approach because I'm not making any tangible progress. My current strategy has been pretty simple. I'm creating art on three fronts, writing fiction, taking photos and creating abstract as well as conceptual art pieces. This includes the process of studying and applying new techniques. My creations are then posted in respective areas I believe are appropriate.  In the case of the stories, the content is sent to professional publishers like Daily Science Fiction. For the photos and conceptual, I'm posting in online galleries like Deviant Art. I suspect to some extent, I'm being lost in a sea of noise. So this weekend, I will re-evaluate the strategies I'm using to create and share my artistic endeavors. Perhaps creating a stand alone gallery in the form of a website might help. Furthermore, a post-mortem on what is going wrong might help diagnose the failing points. And in the grand scheme of things, failure is an important part of growth. It's the struggle builds muscle. And muscle growth doesn't come without pain. Pass the protein powder please, because I'm the infamous 98 pound weakling.

Follow-up note: The last few days has resulted in poor performance on all of my newly submitted material to Pixdaus while certain members are collecting substantial numbers of votes. I suspect a pack agreement has been established where groups of people stick together and vote for each other. Sadly, artistic creation can become second priority because without marketing (socializing, back-scratching, a foray to the casting couch), your work will likely be banished to the dead-zone. The same holds true for Deviant Art. After submitting a decent photo to DeviantArt, I watched the statistics. For the time that my latest uploaded photo was visible on the newly uploaded page (which was less than five seconds), I obtained two favorite votes. As soon as my content pushed off the front page due to the continuous flow of incoming content, my statistics became stagnant with negligible activity. The dime-store analysis is that most online sites are  popularity contests where content matters less than the amount of socializing you do. My new plan of attack will be to create a stand-alone gallery on a personally maintained website. Yes, it will suffer from no traffic initially but at least my works won't mingle in as background noise in a sea of content.

I also realize this is the way the world has worked for centuries. Marketing is an inevitable part of life. Furthermore, I'm sure there are many who enjoy the marketing aspects as much or more than the creation process. To each their own.