As an artist, whether it’s in the fine arts, performing arts, or literary arts, we all go through that exhilarating, but exasperating process of creativity. Putting our hearts and souls, and sweat and blood into a piece of art that will hopefully touch other people when they view it or listen to it.

But what if you put all of that time and energy into something just to have it destroyed? What if you destroyed it yourself?

That is the theme of a great documentary called “The Cardboard Benini”, the story of artist Jimmy Crashow. Crashow showed his artistic talent early in life, when he started making artwork out of discarded cardboard boxes. What everyone else thought was trash, Jimmy saw as a wonderful opportunity to apply his skills to a material that was going to be thrown away.

Throughout his life he supported himself with his illustrations and wood carvings, but it was the cardboard sculptures that were really his passion. He would spend hours in his studio creating unique sculptures that were up to 15 feet tall. One of these sculptures caught the attention of an art dealer Allan Stone, who would later become Jimmy’s dealer.

Stone, an avid art collector ended up with several of the massive sculptures in his house. But after he ran out of room he put them in the backyard, totally exposed to the elements.

After Stone died, Crashow went by the house to pay his respects and found the artwork he labored over and cherished was tarnished and melted into a heap of mush. It was then that he got the idea to speed up the process. If cardboard comes from the trash, what if it returned to the trash? And what if the artist who created it also helped destroy it?

In the documentary “The Cardboard Benini”, you see the whole process from conception to death, a purposeful metaphor for life. It will force you to ask the question “As an artist, could you destroy your own creativity”?

 

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After being in the entertainment industry long enough you come across a lot of talented people. Being on the casting, distribution and development side, it always surprised me when I met an artist with incredible talent that no one had ever heard of, including me. You could be the next De Niro, or Madonna, or Spielberg, but if you don’t have a fan base, you may just be destined to be a legend in your own mind. And that would be a terrible waste of talent. Here are 3 ways to get more fans:

  • Get seen – The first thing is that you simply have to get out there and get out a LOT. If you’re a musician, play everywhere you can as often as you can. If you’re an actor, audition for plays, films, or staged readings. Produce your own projects. Volunteer for your friend’s projects. Don’t sit around waiting for them to come to you. Make them happen. If you’re a filmmaker, make films. Make more films and get them out everywhere you can. If you’re a writer, write. Yes, this sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people claim to be writers who rarely write. People who claim to be actors, yet sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Also, don’t hide behind your computer and don’t communicate solely through texting and email. Let people see that you’re human.
  • Give people incentive – There was an old shampoo commercial that said “…and they tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends…” The point is, if you want fans you have to find ways to multiple them, and that means they have to tell 2 friends and those friends tell 2 more, and so on. You could just count on waiting for enough fans who really like your stuff to eventually pass it on. Or you could do it the free market way and give people a little incentive. Am I saying you should bribe them? No, not at all. But if they are your fans anyway they would probably be happy to pass your art along. They would be even happier and more driven to do it if you gave them some incentive.  Check out Fandistro. Musicians reward their fans with a 20% commission when they introduce others to their music. This is the whole premise behind affiliate programs online, and that “buy 10 frozen yogurts, get 1 free” card offline. You would have gone there anyway, but getting a free yogurt is just extra incentive.
  • Stay in touch – One way to stay in touch with your fans is through social media. This is one reason why you should always be doing something to further your career. You need to constantly have something to talk about other than what you had for lunch. Do you have a newsletter? If you don’t, you should. Occasionally give out some cool freebies and secret VIP backstage passes to your very best fans. People love free stuff. And if they already love your work, they’ll also love your free CD, or book, or T-shirt, or fill in the blank with something cool and unique. Give them a two for one ticket to your next concert or play. That way they’ll bring a friend. Make sure you say it should be a friend who’s never seen your work before. BAM! Now you’ve added even more fans. And hopefully they’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends…

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