Okay I admit it, I am a big fan of "American Idol". I love the music and getting to see new and upcoming talent evolve over the weeks. I enjoy competing with my family to see who will predict the ultimate winner. And yes..I like Simon Cowell.
But I also enjoy watching because I can relate it so much to our branch of the arts, children's publishing. So much of the advice that is given to the singers resonates with me and I thought I would share some that jump out at me each week.
"When you're in this little bubble we call American Idol, you need to bring your best performance every time. You won't be remembered otherwise."
Working in children's publishing is like being in our own little bubble. And we're all showing our work to the judges hoping to land our big break or be the one that gets the assignment.
We too have to remember that each time we show our work, it has to be a piece that we feel is our best otherwise we won't be remembered either.
"Don't be a poor imitation of someone else. Make the song your own."
Same for us.
We don't want to be a poor imitation of anyone else. Sure we study the 'greats' but we have to put our own voice to it and make it our own. Be brave and create from your heart!
"You aren't the best singer in the competition, but you are likeable and entertaining.You'll go far in this competition."
This is my favorite one! I can easily get down on myself if I start comparing myself to others. In this field there is so much talent..so much and It can be very daunting. But if you take an even closer look you will also notice that every imaginable style is being used in this market. From exquisite fine art to naive squiggles...it all works and it's all entertaining!
"You have to exude confidence. If you don't come out here and believe in yourself then it's going to fall flat."
How true is that for us! I have heard this time and time again. If you don't believe in your work then how do you expect anyone else to?
Never apologize for your work or make excuses when speaking to an editor/AD etc.
Never say, "I'm sorry to bother you, I'm sure you're busy. This probably isn't what you're looking for but here you go."
This was an example given by an editor at a conference I attended once. Editors hate this approach. ICK!! Don't do it! Let them decide if it's right for them or not.
"Be unique, find your niche and stick with it."
Experimentation is important, absolutely. I wouldn't be illustrating with felt if I hadn't branched out and tried something new. but I feel (and this may just be me) that there comes a point where you need to focus and get really good at something and stay with it. Children's publishing is so competitive and building a recognizable style is a key to success.
Once I got serious with the felt, the doors started to open but sticking with it has been hard. Trusting that I'm going in the right direction has been very scary for me. But you'll be given little nuggets along the way to help you know what is working and what isn't.
"Accept criticism and work with it."
Although Simon can be hurtful with his comments ,along with Randy and Paula they provide info/insights that can catapult the contestants to the next level.
We have that same opportunity. When an editor/ad/agent/ gives you suggestions, listen. Take what they say and heed their advice. They know this business and know what works. Sometimes it's not what you want to hear but in my experience, the harder it hits, the truer the comment. I know I need to let go of the ego and look at it from their perspective. Plus remember, you are being given a gold brick if someone in the industry is giving you direction!
"you've got to do the work"
Thanks emily! (my daughter asked what I was writing and she shared a "Simon-ism" that sticks with her- and she's 9 years old!)
YES! We have to do the work. We need to keep honing our craft, sending out those submissions and study the market to stay current. Opportunities are not going to come to us on a silver platter. It takes a lot of time, perserverance and passion to make it in this field.
And finally, here is something that the contestants love to hear.
"You have the whole package."
On AI, the whole package is...
You can sing
you perform well on stage
your personality shines through
Do you have the whole package?
You can draw/write
You perform well and have confidence in what you do
Your personality shines through in the work you create
Great..so go get em tiger!
(So...who do you all think is going to win this year? I think it may be a guy this time!)