Image by Angela Radulescu via Flickr
What is authenticity? Is it being honest? is it really being personable? Is it defined by interaction or presence?
Artists I would argue are considered authentic because of their presence, because the nature of their work is honest and because they are human. But they can’t survive by just showing up…they have to engage also. And therein lies the crux of the answer. Starbucks or GM can have signs all over their stores advertising how much they care about me and my decisions. But it means nothing if the GM sales person spends more time trying to upsell me than finding out what I truly want, or the barista doesn’t bother to know that I regularly show up and more importantly what I buy.
This is why small businesses, particularly one to two person businesses will be the leaders of the coming shifts and again why artists can be in that group leading the way. We have all the prerequisites, all we have to do is recognize and use them. Because of our face-to-face interactions with our buyers we have a chance to model authenticity, to set the standards and show how successful being authentically human can make us.
And…because of our rather nomadic manner of conducting business we also can show that using today’s tools can only enhance authenticity. If we can show that we can develop and maintain authentic relationships with our followers despite geographic barriers we will have knocked down the barriers that so many have used to justify their reluctance to engage. So remember it is your humanness that draws buyers to your booth or gallery and makes them willing to buy without selling. Also remember that your humanness is the sum total of who you are and authentically letting that out is the best way to stand out in the crowd. If your work doesn’t express who you are, your gallery doesn’t show your passion or you leave the real you at home, potential buyers will see stear clear of you and most importantly your buyers will turn into non-buyers.
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