Professional used to have an allure of conservative confidence instantly recognizable by the dark blue suit, skirt just below the knees, the sensible heels, perhaps pearl earrings and a thin chain of gold peeking beneath a scarf.
It was warm but reserved, attentive but distant, confident and quietly cagey. (I think it was called getting “the upper hand.”)
Then virtual reality came along and… rearranged the furniture. No need for a suit, who could see you? A computer monitor sure as heck wasn’t going to distinguish between warm and reserved, much less put them together.
And getting the upper hand no longer had anything to do with who you knew, or how you leaned forward in your chair and mirrored your client or prospect, or if you dropped a breath mint before the meeting.
Suddenly It Was All Different
The world as we understood it had a whole new set of rules that only a very few were figuring out. What was really fascinating was how fast the Internet would knock off one sacred cow, replace it with another, and then knock that one off too.
In some ways, it seemed to recall a time in recent history when a much maligned group, knows as Hippies, became famous for knocking off sacred cows and trying to level the playing field between the powerless and the powerful.
Now the playing field between who had resources to start something and get the word out, and who didn’t, was being leveled. And the old guard freaked.
Back room deals were still dealing, but they weren’t the only game in town anymore. On the art scene, galleries, who once had the upper hand, were faced with artists who had ways to reach an audience that were unheard of in what I call the Old World.
From Flower Power to Tribe Scribe
Hippies understood that bureaucracy and stagnant rules were strangling creativity, spontaneity, and authenticity – three of the most joyful, delicious traits of human beings – and that reserved confidence was overrated. They understood what Twitter now heralds: being a scribe for your tribe. Using creativity, spontaneity, and authenticity to rally your audience around your message.
The new professional has to be real, someone with preferences, and ideas, and a personality. The new professional has to be professional even as she kicks off her shoes, curls her feet underneath her on the couch and invites us into her living room to share her experience on the last sculpture she had commissioned by her city council. Oh, and she has to be articulate.
The Success Blend
The New World offers us the opportunity to exercise what I call personal professionalism – a way to engage more of ourselves with the world by blending our personal selves with our professional selves. And like the Old World, this New World has rules that influence how effective you can be, how successful.
One of the biggies is the rule of authenticity, or will the real you please stand up, which, as an artist, is intimately connected to what I can your artistic fingerprint – a style that is unmistakably yours and no one else’s.
In Part 2 of “The New Professional,” we’ll take a look at how your unique artist’s voice is the single most important key to your success in the New World, just as it was in the Old World… or is it?
Having an artistic fingerprint will only go so far in the New World. Being articulate about your uniqueness is the magic key to unlocking your relationship to your art for your audience. Nothing does this as well as your artist statement. Isn’t it time you stopped putting it off? Click here.