Distilling the Fans into Equations

Speaking of super fans….

Being in a band is a weird thing. Being an artist is a weird thing. When you’re an imprint specialist at an embroidery place you don’t get emails from people out of the blue supporting and praising you for your work. You don’t get fans.

I appreciate fans. I even like having fans. It makes me feel good knowing that there are people out there who think I’m doing good work. But it’s very hard to get used to, and I don’t like to be put on a pedestal. I have difficulty reacting when people get fanboy on me. It’s taken me many years to learn how to take praise graciously. I think everyone has skills or talents. Mine happen to be (song)writing, drawing, and singing. I am crap at math and mechanics, but others are whizzes – do they have fans too? Maybe some do.

I’m a regular guy with strengths and foibles. My fans are too. The difficulty I have with fans is that when they goober out on me, I can’t treat them like a regular person, because they won’t let me. The ‘glorification’ if you will becomes a barrier to a normal social process, which I suck at during the best of times. I feel like these people could be my friends because clearly they like the same sorts of things I do–punk rock or Cthulhu or fine art or all of the above–but the exaltation gets in the way.

Above is the graphic from this article on making a living on art via your fanbase.

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

It goes on to describe what defines a “true fan” and basically how to handle them. As I say – I like having fans. If The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets didn’t have fans we wouldn’t still be around. We have never done it just for the money or just for the fans but when slogging through Eastern Canada’s shitty bars after your van has been broken into and your luggage stolen, and you have nowhere to sleep and very little money, that one ‘true fan’ and his friend that came to the show just to see you guys because it’s a dream come true to see you live…well that makes a huge difference.

I would love to make a living off of 1000 True Fans, but here’s where my human foibles and skill limitations come in.

A more important caution: Not every artist is cut out, or willing, to be a nurturer of fans. Many musicians just want to play music, or photographers just want to shoot, or painters paint, and they temperamentally don’t want to deal with fans, especially True Fans. For these creatives, they need a mediator, a manager, a handler, an agent, a galleryist — someone to manage their fans. Nonetheless, they can still aim for the same middle destination of 1,000 True Fans. They are just working in a duet.

I am the world’s worst promoter of Toren Atkinson. Kolja and I were just this day discussing how he tells lots of people how great an artist I am, and how I am thankful for that because I don’t tell anyone. I feel that my time is better spent working on new creative endeavors than crafting schemes on how best to milk the last ones. Certainly I can sell someone a t-shirt and tell them what I’m up to lately, but I find working out financial models and researching publishing licenses intimidating and, frankly, soul-draining. It is this lack of management skills that keep me in the embroidery business, for which Kenn is thankful I’m sure.

So if anyone wants to volunteer to be my manager, please step forward. You can probably totally take advantage of me because I’ll have no interest in how much money you’re skimming off the profits as long as I have a roof over my head and can afford to eat out every night.

7 Replies to “Distilling the Fans into Equations”

  1. Okay, that’s snaps it. No more praise for your artistic talents until *after* Snyder and The Underbelly have 1,000 True Fans. 😛

  2. I think one of the points of “1000 True Fans” is to have as few leeches on your small income like managers and record companies taking their cut.

    I think you do a fine job of self-promotion. This blog really helps. You don’t have to “tell people how great you are”, you just have to get the word out about what you’re doing, give out samples, and keep people updated. The fans will make themselves.

    You’re also good at promotion during your shows, at least when it comes to the immediate sales of CDs and t-shirts. You’ve never failed to mention them whenever I’ve seen you guys play. As I noted when I sent you that article and my thoughts on this though, you can also start pushing people towards thickets.net to get some more long-term interaction with possible and new fans.

  3. I used to totally goober out when we first started hanging out. Luckily, we were mostly rollplaying, so I don’t think you noticed.

    Now I’ve seen your feet of clay. And fine feet they are.

  4. Actually, I haven’t seen your feet. Nor do I particularly want to.

    But I have seen those freaky socks with individual toes. The horror.

  5. Funny, I’d heard of the Thickets long before I met you and then when I did meet you via gaming, it was like, “cool, the Tickets” and then “cool Spaceship Zero game” just seemed normal. It wasn’t until I was at a Chris Woods show and saw some of the painting with you or Warren as models that I was “jebus, these guy’s are famous”! Yes, once again Mr. Woods brings fame to light.

  6. Well Toren, it appears that I fall under the 1000 true fans, though I’ve never meet you personally. I discovered Thickets in the 90’s through a friend of mine who I used to play Call of Cthulhu with. And then in the late 90’s to early 2000’s I used to play Mythos with Warren in Seattle.

    It’s not hard to get hooked on your artwork though because it’s really quite good. I’m still hoping that you do a poster print of Where the Wild Things Are/Cthulhu drawing as my wife really wants one.

    When I finally see a Thickets show live, I will thrust a CD cover into your hands to sign just to embarrass you though.

  7. ‘Yes, once again Mr. Woods brings fame to light’.

    Whu’d I do now? I think you should institute a Stallone-type waiver that everyone who meets you must sign. This would demand that people never speak to you unless spoken to and never look you directly in the eye.

    Plus, H.J.’s from EVERYONE!

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