Being a jack of all trades doesn’t make you look skilled
This is what I see when an artist tells me they can’t focus on one thing because they have so many talents: they’re a yodeling, lion taming, gynecologist artist.
Look, we all have many talents. The world is full of people who are good at a bunch of stuff. The world is even full of good and great artists who can work in a variety of mediums and genres.
But the world isn’t full of masters. Amazing creatives who have mastered one thing so well they are at the top of their field.
If you want to produce good work and make an ok living, continue producing a variety of work to match whatever mood you’re in. Fill your boots. You’re happy being background noise and that’s fine.
If you want to make a mark, really leave an impact with your art, you need to drop everything but the one thing you love to do more than anything else in the world.
I’ll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor. I know that was a shocker.
Here’s the thing, you look unprofessional to your audience when you confuse them. No one wants to interact with someone they can’t keep up with or someone they don’t understand.
Your clients and customers are busy and distracted. They aren’t going to go through your hundred or thousands of posts to find art they like. It’s a rare person that does that.
And they’re not going to think, “Wow, she’s so talented! I feel great trying to figure out what she is actually good at so I can buy something.”
That’s not how customers work. They want simple. They want easy. They want to know that when they’re buying something it’s made by an expert not a hack.
Do one thing. Get really amazing at it. Be known for it.
If painting Jack pines, a type of pine tree seen only in parts of North America, is your thing then do it. Do it all the time. Be known as the go to person for Jack pines. Paint them better and more uniquely than anyone else.
It doesn’t matter that you can also sculpt dog portraits that are pretty good.
Doesn’t matter that you can paper mache your way out of any situation and it’s passable work.
You are the Jack pine guru and trust me it makes you look like a deity. When people think of Jack pines, they immediately think of you. Solid connection. Plus, they feel good about it because you’re easily definable as to who you are and what you do.
Look, think about Bob Ross. He wasn’t known for anything but one kind of painting. He could do it with his eyes closed. He could do it in his sleep. When anyone sees a Bob Ross painting, especially non artists, they know it’s his work.
For all we know, he made tiny effigies in his spare time. Madly pushing pins into his enemies’ likenesses, but artfully. He could have been good enough at using origami to wrap fish. None of those things ever touched his brand.
Be like Bob Ross.
It’s perfectly ok, hell it’s better than ok, to be a master of one thing. Your audience will soak it up. You will quickly get better than anyone else who’s simply good at a lot of things.
I know it feels counter-intuitive and maybe you think I’m wrong. Whatever. But stop and think about the people you follow online who are influencers. Who have made an impact, even outside of art.
Taylor Swift isn’t known for her amazing combo of singing and website design.
Steven King doesn’t also write poetry in addition to his horror novels.
Go Google a few people. See what they’re known for.
Sure, you don’t have to do the same thing over and over again for your entire career. If that makes you want to poke your eyeballs out right now, it’s fine. But you need to be known for one thing, and known to be the best at it (or at the top of your game) in order to have a massive impact.
Once you’re there, you can add to your range or offerings, but until then leave the lion taming and yodelling off your brand.