Storytime! When I first started attending San Jose State University to work on my illustration degree, I was married with a growing family. While balancing family and school, I also ran a mural painting business that covered all of the San Francisco Bay Area. In order to find work, I regularly spent all our savings to secure a booth at one of the local “home shows”. People would come from all over the area to find new products and services they could use to make their homes prettier/cleaner/classier. These shows look much like any comicon or gaming convention...huge crowds of people flowing down aisles lined with people selling stuff. Most of the booths at these shows were staffed by professional salespeople, who would call out to their potential customers hoping to reel them in for a sale. It was loud and aggressive.
In the middle of this, was me. I studied the more popular tactics and half-heartedly tried them myself. But, eventually, I settled on a more simple approach. In my 10x10, I had a table with a sign-up sheet, my portfolio, business cards, and an easel with a canvas. And then I stood at the easel and painted. All day. I wanted people to see what I was painting, so my back was normally to the crowd. When I could tell that someone was lingering by my booth, I’d turn around and say hi and sometimes that would end in a mural gig. Even if I didn’t get a job, I met lots of great people and had lots of nice conversations. I’d like to say that this was some sort of “slow and steady wins the race” story, but it’s not. As sales strategies go, it was probably the worst. I barely got the work I needed and I expect the professional salespeople surrounding me had very profitable weekends. However, I learned a lot about myself, what I was comfortable with, and what was an authentic Andrew approach to marketing.
I am now a very very old man (40) and marketing in an online world is a challenge for me. I’ve studied up on different social media platform algorithms and researched about the best posting times. I’ve made it a point to end posts with a question, because everyone knows that’s how you create more engagement. And I’ve certainly spent hours and hours debating in my head whether to paint what I like or what I think my audience will like. Right or wrong, having an online presence has felt, at times, like I’m shouting into a crowd, hoping to reel people in for a retweet, like, or follow. In my attempts to have an effective, robust online persona, in many ways I’ve sacrificed being creator/artist in a vain attempt to be an influencer. Some lucky people can be both. When I try, I end up being neither.
This has led me towards trying to discover an authentic Andrew approach to my online presence. Truthfully, I haven’t figured it out yet. I have so many wonderful friends that I know online and I hope that circle of friends continues to grow. But, what I do know is that my life is decidedly offline. My closest relationships are not developed through direct message. I find them at home, in church, on the soccer field, or at my monthly game night. And that’s where my biggest life challenges are too. So, at times, it may seem like I’ve got my online back to you and all you see is a painting on an easel. Don’t give up on me please! I can be introverted at times, but I truly love to make new friends, online and off. Just say hi!
I’m writing this post, first and foremost, as a personal mind dump. I need to make sense of all this in writing. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world with this struggle and I truly don’t think this is a generational thing. But, I purposely did not post this on Facebook or Twitter, where it might come across as a cultural manifesto or a public critique of others. This blog, probably seen by two people so far, seems like an appropriate way to share slightly more personal thoughts to those of you that are a little more invested in my work/life. It's you that I want to make sure I don’t let down. So thanks for reading, thanks for your understanding, and thanks for your support! It really means a lot!