Inward Artist, Outward Artist

My last posting stressed the importance of becoming a “you, you, you” outward artist, as opposed to a “me, me, me” inward artist. The attitude you adopt affects every aspect of your artistic life, from product development and projects pursued to marketing and sales. Which kind of artist are you?

Please note: though feminine pronouns are used below, neither category is limited by gender!






Makes music to show off her talent. Makes music to help the world become a better place in some small way.
Delivers work of that is personally interesting, with no consideration of the audience. Delivers work that will also resonate with the audience, considering their unique background, experiences, and interests. Program themes are often connected to community interests, current events, popular hobbies, social issues, educational objectives, solving problems, etc.
Ignores the audience perspective. Doesn’t really think about what it’s like to witness her event—she just makes the art. Prioritizes the audience perspective. She considers how the event will look, sound, and feel, contemplating the psychological journey spectators will traverse.
Favors music that is fun to produce. Favors music that is fun to experience.
Is often surprised that events last longer than expected. Times events in advance. She is careful not to impose “too much of a good thing.”
Ignores viewers during performances. Engages viewers through dialogue, banter, humor, and/or interactive activities.
Hides out during intermission and flees after the show finale. Mingles with fans at every opportunity, continuing and building relationships.
Focuses post-event dialogue on herself: her mistakes, accomplishments, and vision. Focuses post-event dialogue on her fans: your experience, thoughts, and interests.
Shows self-interest in conversations, sharing a lot of answers. Shows curiosity in conversations, asking a lot of questions.
Is largely inflexible, insisting on optimal conditions at every turn. Bends over backwards to accommodate employers and enthusiasts.
Produces promotional materials that read like laundry lists of accomplishments. Others are impressed by how much she’s done and how phenomenal she is. Produces promotional materials that establish credibility, but also show how her art will benefit you.
Focuses job and grant application letters on how the opportunity will benefit her. Emphasizes how her employment/project would benefit the institution or community.
Pursues “vanity” projects. Pursues projects valuable to others.
Networks only to get ahead. Also networks to extend a helping hand, understanding that relationships go both ways.
Locks herself in a practice room ad nauseum, with few outside interests. Cares about the world at large, staying informed about current events, industry trends, community affairs, social causes, etc.
Gripes that nobody cares about her art form. Actively creates projects that are relevant and intriguing. (Because of this approach, people absolutely care about her art form!)
Prioritizes becoming a great musician. Also prioritizes being a great human being.
Aspires to amaze people with her high level talent. Aspires to make a true difference and leave lasting legacies.

Is it any wonder that outward artists experience much greater levels of success?


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149 Responses to “Inward Artist, Outward Artist”

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  4. [...] One of my favorite university experiences thus far has been the opportunity to hear David Cutler give his talk on the inward vs outward artist. In short, he comes to the conclusion that successful artists are those who focus on serving other people—especially their audiences—more than they focus on benefiting their own personal or musical desires. (For further understanding of Cutler’s ideals, follow this link.) [...]

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