If You Were a Real Artist, You Wouldn't Need a Blog - Christine Kane

…all you would have to do is paint in your studio, or hang out with your instrument, creating and creating, while the masses of adorers who are feverishly running around looking for someone to adore just continue to find you even though you spend all your time making your art. If you build it, they will come, right? If you were a real artist, they would come and they would discover you. Wouldn’t they?

So, I’m curious.

Is this something you tell yourself?

Or is it something someone else has said?

(If you’re not an artist, then you can replace that word with something like “yoga teacher” or “dentist” or “consultant” or “homeopath.”)

Maybe it’s not about having a blog. Maybe it’s the marketing aspect in general… if you were a real artist, you wouldn’t need to do any business at all.

I’m putting it out there for comments because I’m genuinely interested. I was interviewed recently by Paul O’Flaherty from Fuel My Blog, and he presented this idea during the interview. (You can see the interview below.)

What does it mean to be a “Real” artist? Or a “Real” anything?

Christine Kane Broadcast your self LIVE

  • Christy

    Wow, Christine! I am the mom, wife and business owner you described in the video interview who never goes to clubs but Googled and found you by accident. Lucky me!! I feel so connected to your blogs and your music. Thank you for writing so selflessly (and so funny!). It has been very enlightening to read your thoughts. By the way, I think you look so much like Renee Russo!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks for all of these amazing comments, everyone! (Jannie – I look not at all like Shawn – but thanks for that compliment!) It’s great to read everyone’s take on the work of the artist – and the many degrees of success and connection out there.

  • diana christine

    Oh my goodness, that’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Not telling anyone about your art is a bit like hiding your light under a bushel. Our spirit calls us to do the work we do (the art) as much as calls us to do what we need to do to share it. Some people have the gift of the art but carry not the courage to market it, and they have some growing to do. Our best efforts are to create the art, do all we can to market it, and remain detached from the outcome, leaving the final results in the hands of the Universe. Your blog, though…I’ve always felt your blog is much more of a gift, a connection and a communication with your audience, rather than a marketing effort. And I thank you for so beautiful a gift.

  • Jannie Sue

    Nowhere related to this post, but you totally look like Shawn Colvin in the thumbnails of your CD covers.


  • Chris Cree

    Many “real” artists don’t market their art effectively. History is full of artists who died paupers only to have their art discovered and become valuable after their deaths.

    Effective marketing is simply a way to connect the artist with people who are willing to pay for their art. A blog is simply a tool that can help accomplish that.

    Now if an artist happens to have people clamoring for their art already then they have no need for marking, or blogs. Or if they aren’t interested in money then they can just wait until they leave this life for their work to potentially become popular.

  • Petra

    I simply don’t understand why blogging ISN’T considered “artistic”. Seems that we (general society, not Christine’s readers) have a very narrow definition of what constitutes the arts, namely music, painting, sculpting, writing, acting, photography, and dancing, but only in traditional media. Even performance art is viewed by many with suspicion, if not outright disdain!

  • tre

    I chuckled at this. reminded me of being in college and hearing ‘so what are you gonna do when you get out in the real world.’

    and then i think of your song ‘the real world’….

    defining ‘real’ is individual…
    but i truly think you are right on in your interview when you say that today there’s a different tone/pull and a lot of ‘neil young’ types….

    we don’t listen to music the same way we did 40 years ago….

    the fact that you’re embracing multiple avenues to express the art of your being suggests to me what is a natural inclination of the times…to have a presence in all arenas through which people communicate and share ideas…..

    great interview…tell the story of how that evolved…:)

    hugs, tre

  • Judy

    I started out making art as a kid, but went into business as an adult….and finally got back to making art. They are so intertwined into who I am I guess I can’t fully peel them away from one another. But, I think part of being an artist is to make your work public. To have other people engage with your work. To love it. To hate it. To respond in some way. I think it adds another element of life to a piece when it goes out into the world, and it is the scary part of some artists because they are no longer in control. The same thing with blogging. It is scary because if we are authentic we are risking the negative with the positive. But, when we make our work public we are opening ourselves up to huge growth as an artist and as a person. The same with blogging. Much like you described in the video. So, how much of the dismissal of blogging is about fear of the unknown?

  • Caryn

    I don’t think anyone *needs* a blog except, perhaps, someone who makes money from blogging. But having a blog is a great outlet, and it can also provide a little publicity. If it doesn’t take away from your art and you don’t present you in a negative light, then it can be an asset — or, at the very least, it can’t hurt.

  • Julie

    Hi Christine,
    Loved the entry.

    I might just have a little different spin on this. Artist or not, don’t we all market ourselves? In all reality what is marketing other than a presentation to make something more appealing? To hit your target audience. That audience might be potential fans, readers or the other people that might vote for you in a neighborhood association. They are all touched by marketing.

    So when someone can ask if a “real” artist should have a blog, then perhaps the question should be countered with , what “real” person shouldn’t.

    Have a great one!!

  • Lisa

    I think I heard that *Real Artists* wear black and slouch. Kinda like my teenager, who doesn’t blog.

    Very thought provoking questions and video Christine. Thanks.

    I spent many years following a mentor that told me much of this stuff (marketing is selling out – real artists don’t do that stuff). I’m working through not believing it anymore. Blogging totally rocks and marketing is growing on me.

  • Mike Wagner


    The “real artist” question is something I hear often in my client work with businesses and organizations.

    The variation I hear though centers on the “quality” notion. The thinking goes something like this, “quality is enough by itself. We just feel quality speaks for itself.”

    And the follow up conversation usually is about how some other businesses succeeding with “inferior” quality.

    I always say, “that’s interesting. I wonder why?”

    For me creating art or a great product or service results in an authentic desire to invite others to experience the results of one’s creative vision.

    If we got away from terms like “sales, press kits, agents, marketing, advertising…etc.” and talked about inviting others to experience our work we might be less resistant to an invitation/communication venue like blogging.

    Thanks for stirring my mind up!

    Keep creating….and inviting,

  • Jeanie

    I think people take themselves too seriously. Some artists look down their nose at pop music. Literary “geniuses” regard popular novelists as beneath them. Gimme a break. We all have bills to pay… and there’s nothing wrong with providing a service that other people enjoy/benefit from, whether that be chic-lit or a blog. If you’re lucky enough to combine artistic expression with a paycheck that sustains your family… bonus. Marketing drives our economy and without it, we’d all still be living in the dark ages. Just my 5c.

  • Tammy Vitale

    What resonated for me is that Neil Young wouldn’t be as big today. My experience with writing and with art is that you are so right: there are wonderfully talented people out here who are know only in thier circles. And even there, you have to be out and about with your work and with others who do that work so you don’t get stale and stagnant and so others know who you are. Many of my repeat sales are to other artists (and much of the art in my home is from artists I’ve met and worked with). Without blogs I wouldn’t have soul support when I’m down, and wouldn’t have found you, then your retreat and then your music. Blogs open up the world for artists. And I also very much agree with your statement about incorporating marketing ideas at your own rhythm. Great discussion! Thanks!

  • PaMdora

    I’m an artist, my husband is an artist, and we know a lot of artists through sculpture and fiber art networks. Most artists I know pretty well would probably say that that they actually do creative stuff in the studio about 25-50 percent of the time, more leaning toward the 25. The rest of the time is dealing with paperwork, employee. and other less creative (although business can be very creative, but it is different from the art).

  • Sheree Rensel

    This is such an interesting video. I am not a musician. I am a visual artist. I stumbled on this post via a Goggle alert. What a great coincidence. I have to comment about blogging and being an artist. Just today, I looked at my blog stats. I get fewer hits when I talk about myself or my own art life. If I speak in general about art, my stats are higher.
    I find it so interesting that this vlog suggests that you need to promote yourself. Maybe this is one of the differences between visual and performance arts. (?) I noticed one thing of note which is very good advice. โ€œKeep checking in. This is who I am.* Make that your mantra. Let it happen. I totally agree. YEP!!!

  • amylia

    You are a real artist.

    Blogging sounds techy, but it’s really just like putting pen to pad and writing. It is self-expression and the same as writing. I think of my blog as a writing tool and creative self-expression and sometimes like journaling online and hoping to touch another with my thoughts.

    If it weren’t for your blog, I’d never have met you, never attended your retreat , never listened to your great music, never taken the e-Seminar. Thank GOD you blogged about vision boards.

    You have been such a gift to my life and I never would’ve found you without the power of your blog.

  • deb

    i think we’re talking about a few different things here. one, as pat k said, is about being a real artist. my personal opinion is that anything anyone does creatively, whether they share it or not, makes them an artist.

    i know a brilliant photographer who does it only for himself. as his friend, i’m fortunate enough to get to see some of his work. doesn’t make him less of an artist because he doesn’t put his work out there or because he doesn’t make a living at it. is it real? sure. it’s what works for him. (and isn’t that freedom of doing what works for you part of the fun of being an artist?)

    on the other hand, if one wants to make a living through their art, then marketing has to be done. it’s the way people find out about you. as you pointed out, most people would be surprised how much marketing & PR goes into the ‘chart-makers’. actually, the thing that bothers me more are the people who are products of the music marketing machine with the purpose of being a star, rather than a musician. i’m talking about the extreme examples here — the people who have their voices so digitally enhanced and have to lip-synch live because they can’t actually sing — but have hit after hit after hit. they don’t work on their craft, they work on their brand.

    which brings us to that word ‘real’.
    one thing that i find so appealing about your blog, your work, and your art is that it’s authentic, as the person commented above.

    marketing, though, sometimes gets a bad rap as just slimey, sales-y stuff to make you buy stuff you don’t really need. but marketing, like anything else, can also be done in an authentic way that represents the company, product, or artist well and supports those people in attaining their goals. it can be just as much about sharing experiences and connection as anything else can….if done authentically.

    that’s just my two cents though.
    all the best!

  • Christine Kane

    thanks everyone! I’ve been teaching creativity all day – and got behind here. doing my best to keep up, so i won’t answer everyone right now!

    frances, twitter @christinekane when you have some insight too! (i’m with you on the keeping-up challenges. that’s a big one for me as an artist.)

    anna – as for your question “what IS my art now?” I am honestly perplexed by that. I don’t have an answer and I don’t feel any less creative. (In some ways , I am MORE creative, and happier too.) But I’ve come to love the word “Pioneer.” It signifies that there is no THING you can’t be or do and that you can have a career that encompasses many new territories!

    michelle carolyn peggi and shell – nice insights into the question. i like what you said about it!

    colin – i think i was probably wondering if I had anything in my teeth. it dawned on me that i had just eaten lunch, and i had a moment of panic that there was a chive or something.

    diane and vicky – that’s great to hear! thanks! see you in TX and CA!

    pat k – that’s true of course. and i’m wondering did his refusal to market or put himself out there make him MORE of an artist?

  • Pat K.

    What makes you a “real artist” or a “real” anything is presence. being totally present in your task as (fill in the blank) means you are being real. And although marketing is how Vincent Van Gogh may have become known to the world, it in no way *made* him into a real artist. He was a real artist in spirit and task.

  • Shell

    Hi Christine,

    No one should define what an artist is only we can do it for ourselves! I feel there are no rules to what we can or should do as artists. It is whatever feels right to us is what we should do.

    I am an actor; I started a blog because I wanted a place to talk about acting, my favorite movies and my journey as an actor. If someday, it can propel me further with my career that is great. I did it purely for myself. I love my my blog dearly.

  • vicky

    Hi Christine,
    Like the Texan, I discovered you through Putumayo’s CD, American Folk. I worked in a clothing store that received promotional CDs from Putumayo to play in the store. No doubt some of the customers discovered you that way too!
    I missed you last year at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, and I think that’s why I checked out your web site and found your blog.
    I now subscribe to your RSS feed and one of the things I do each morning is check to see if you have something to say! I would say I get as much (if not more) from your blog as I do your music. Thank you!

  • Colin

    Even though you answered the question well and in depth (good job!), it was interesting to note that you covered your face with your hands a lot right after you answered, even though the camera was ‘in your face’, so to speak. At no other point in the session did you do this. Just interesting to note body language sometimes, though it may mean nothing. What do you think? By the way, you looked very pretty as well as clever!

  • Peggi

    Very nice interview. I am an artist and I have a blog and what I’ve found is that the art and the blog seem to enhance each other. My art is enhanced when I write about it on my blog and by all the people I’ve met through it. My blog is enhanced by my art because it gives me a chance to write about portraiture, which is something that many people don’t know a lot about. Thanks for the insight.

  • Carolyn

    Remember “real writing”? It was what happened when you stopped printing and began writing cursive. I don’t have time to blog (nor do I have internet at
    home), but I’m a “real writer”! Everytime I put pen to paper and empty my soul on the paper, I’m
    a real artist. No one may ever see it, but I
    know that I’ve written. And who knows? The fact that I wrote that day may have kept this middle-school teacher from strangling someone’s first or
    second-born, especially this time of year. (: It’s
    all semantics. If we believe in our hearts we are artists, then we are.

  • Michelle

    I think that being an artist and having a blog do not need to be two totally exclusive things. I am glad you have a blog and that I have been able to get to know you and your art from reading your blog. I never would have known about you as an artist if I had not discoved you first as a blogger.

    The reality of life is that each of us needs to make a living and if we have to promote ourselves, as artists or whatever we are to do that, then I say go for it. We decide our own success and putting ourselves out there to others is hard enough without adding the pressure of if it dimishes the importance of what we are doing.

  • Diane

    I discovered your music because of the song “She Don’t Like Roses” on the American Folk CD. One day, after enjoying the CD a couple of years, I thought “I wonder if she ever tours in Texas?” I googled you and wow I discovered your wonderful web site and blog. I was thrilled to discover this wonderful human behind the music. I am a former adv/mkt/pr person and so I found a way to bring you to Texas. Fellow Texans, please put Oct. 10 on your calendar!!! One thing we use to tell our clients is “You have to spend money to make money.” Whatever you are doing for a living you need to let people know…after you are established sometimes word of mouth is enough to keep you going. I do think your blog exemplifies your authenticity…just like I think PR is usually more believable than a paid advertisement. Anyway, I think you are real when you are doing what your heart desires.

    Enjoyed the interview and your dimple is so very cute! Can’t wait to hear your music in person!

  • Erica

    Hi Christine!
    I believe (like “mag” and “mini”), that being a “real” artist is doing what you have to do, being authentical, just that. Of course there are artist doing just one thing: they only have one single obsession. And there are others with multiple talents that need to come out! But, like I said, it’s only a question about being the person you are, and using all the talents you have. By the way, you made a great job concentrating during the interview! And please keep on blogging – I love your articles!

  • Anna Garrett

    Hi Christine,

    Interesting question…I’m not an artist and I don’t have a blog. My question for you is what IS your art now? Is it music, is it leading creativity seminars, conducting e-seminars and women’s retreats, filming baby birds, blogging etc? In the time I have spent at retreats, etc with you…it’s pretty clear that it’s all of those things. I found your retreats through your concerts, but many other have found your music and retreats through your blog.

    I don’t think having a blog makes you less of an artist. It gives others a chance to experience a side of you that they might not otherwise get to see if music was the only “art” you offered.

    See you in June!

  • Mark

    Bravo Christine – that was awesome!

    I’m sitting here drinking morning coffee and watching your vid. feeling inspired.

    I had to laugh at your mention of Bruce Springsteen being the quintessential big-name rock musician, because I literally ran into him at a sandwhich shop last Saturday and got to meet him, and I just wrote about the “magical” experience on my blog.)

    You’re just a delight in the video Christine, very smart, very pro, very personable, and I laughed at your mention of the distracting back-ground people. Thanks for sharing the wisdom.

  • Frances

    Hi Christine – I am not a “vocational” artist – meaning that I am not currently trying to make a living through my art. But I enjoy reading what artists, such as yourself have to say about creativity and the artistic process and living a creativity-focused life. And your blog is one of my favorites.

    What caught my attention about your post is the idea that “if you were really an artist you wouldn’t need a blog…” That made stop and think because it’s very different from what I have found to be true.

    As a independent marketing consultant for high-tech companies I have found the exact opposite to be true.

    I MUST blog, IM and twitter, and Facebook and any other number of things to be “relevant” and “hip.” As I launch my solo business I struggle between doing what I know needs to be done to launch the business and build a solid foundation of marketing vs. spending time with time consuming social media tools.

    I haven’t figured it out yet … maybe I will just twitter (@kroboth7) when have some insight … ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Walter! If you’ve read some of Van Gogh’s biography and writings, then you’d know that he’d NEVER have a blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t know about Johanna and all that marketing. (Most people don’t realize how much money/marketing and PR goes into getting one song on the charts either!)

    Thank you Irene! Maybe it’s time for you to share your work with the world a little more!??…

    Mags – Okay so – some people think that “real artists” who never conform would be the last to put themselves out there and do a blog! (Part of their non-conformity ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    xfile – we’ll get those t-shirts out soon! ๐Ÿ™‚ (My friend Suzi created a “Dog is Love” bumpersticker that is so popular in my city that you see them EVERYWHERE.

    mimi – ah yes, being cool. I think that’s what this whole topic is about on some level. some people sacrifice so much in order to keep that “cool” status. it has been a great release to finally enjoy (even revel in) the fact that i’m not cool – nor do i ever have to be!

  • Mindful Mimi

    If you didn’t blog I would not have found you, learned about you and continued to be interested in what you have to say ๐Ÿ™‚
    As Walter puts it, Vincent van Gogh might still be unknown to the world if it weren’t for Johanna.
    I agree with Mags that being a real anything involves being authentically you.
    I was living ‘beside’ me for a long time pretending I was someone I wasn’t, putting on a mask of being cool. Needless to say that I was leading a very superficial life. It wasn’t until I dared being the real me (I had to understand that first…) that life turned and made me happy.
    And I agree with Irene: some artists want to be known others not. I knew an excellent artist and would have loved to spread the word about her. But she didn’t want to succeed in the arts world as she could not part with her paintings. They were a part of her and the only place she could temporarily let them go to was the restaurant of her partner. She once sold a piece and was heartbroken and depressed until she got it back.

  • Xfile

    nice interview -big up !
    re last blog
    Would deffo buy the universe is my dog t-shirt (obviously no cute pictures )
    Been watching the Cesar stuff over here – I dont have a dog at the moment..but its all good zen advice !
    much respect from sunny south london
    X x

  • Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom

    Christine, I think you answered your own question perfectly in the interview… it’s about the human being behind the songs (or whichever artistic medium you’re using to create, even if that medium is a dentist’s drill and you’re creating beautiful teeth!).

    I think being a real anything involves being authentically you, living consciously and taking inspired action. At the end of the day, that action may not conform to what the industry or society in general expects you to do, but then… since when have “real” artists ever conformed?!

  • Irene

    Hello Christine,
    Very interesting question. I do not tell myself this. Some family members and friends say I am an artist in hiding. I do create a lot and rarely share. My question would be what is a “Real” artist or a “Real” anything? My belief is that everyone is an artist in their own way. They may be discovered and may not. However their friends, family and co-workers may appreciate their creation which may satisfy them and encourage them to take the next step. I love the way you discribe your thought about blogging in your interview. Without your blog I would not have discovered your music and you which I enjoy each day. Just being who I am, who you are makes it a real being. As for your statement “If you were a real artist, you wouldn’t need to do any business at all.” I doubt that very much. Without the business an artist becomes a shadow very quickly. In the end I love what you are doing by music, blog, workshops. Keep sharing your words and music because you are a “REAL” Artist.

  • Walter Hawn

    Instead of requiring visitors to his blog, Canadian painter Robert Genn emails a twice-weekly newsletter to discuss art and life. In the May 16 issue (http://clicks.robertgenn.com/johanna.php), he discussed just why and how Vincent Van Gogh became such a hit — after he died.


    His sister-in-law Johanna took over the estate, and flogged it unmercifully. Now there is a van Gogh museum and van Gogh coffee cups and all those things.

    Because of marketing.

    Vincent built it, but no one came until Johanna told them about it.

    The lesson, I think, is that *somebody’s* gotta do the selling.

    In the same vein, the history of daVinci, Michealgelo, and Rembrant is instructive. Each of them was a businessman who took on commissions for paintings and buildings and statues and what-not, and they put in the effort to get the work.

    • steve

      Although I agree with most of what you said, it’s the last sentence that got me. The difference it seems with Van Gogh and say, Rembrandt was that Van Gogh did purely what he wanted,( money be damned) while Rembrandt being a good business man, got “the work.”
      I’m not saying that a commission artist doesn’t do great work (the Sistine Chapel was after all a commission) but that there is a difference.
      Today, there isn’t much to make a commission about so you get a lot of ‘business man in suit’ or ‘cowboy art.’ Art for art’s sake seems to be producing better pieces.