We don’t always know what we don’t know

Guest post by Meg Crane
megjcrane.com I cockroachzine.com

It’s difficult to sit on a good idea, especially when there’s no off-switch for the creative mind. With artistic visions constantly swirling around, it can be tempting to grab onto one and turn it into reality. Sometimes this can mean projects that wouldn’t come into fruition if they were overthought are successfully executed. Other times, it means diving into something without any of the required skills and winding up overwhelmed.

This is basically my style. I was about to do this once again a few months ago by launching my second Kickstarter campaign—for 10 times the amount of the first one—without any real research into creating a successful project. Thankfully ACI Manitoba’s Mu-Zine hit my inbox and stopped me with a little blurb about Hope Nicholson’s upcoming workshop, Kickstart Your Art! A Crowdfunding Primer.

In ACI Manitoba’s the Art of Managing Your Career, instructor Heather Bishop has her students write down the skills they think they need to further their work. The problem is, as she’ll say, sometimes it’s hard to identify what we don’t know, until we either know it or fall flat on our faces.

Even for people who are more than happy to learn from their mistakes, the path to success is much easier for those who equip themselves with the right tools before they’re needed. If failure comes after making an effort to learn from others’ experiences, the firsthand lessons will be richer. What is learned won’t be the small mistakes which are obvious to a professional, but rather the more personal details that need to be tweaked.

If I had not taken Nicholson’s workshop, I’d be disappointed that my Kickstarter didn’t go well and feel like a failure. However, the numbers, facts and reassurance she gave during the workshop are helping me now to understand that it’s not that I suck. It’s just that my expectations weren’t realistic or it wasn’t the right time. I also didn’t follow all her recommendations (such as keep the video short and concise) because I’d jumped the gun and gotten started on part of the campaign before even entering the classroom. And I thought I didn’t need to learn anything about running a Kickstarter!

Take a look at your own practice. What skills have you officially been taught and which have you learned on your own? It’s possible to be a self-taught genius, but there’s still a good chance a quick workshop or consultation with an expert will either reinforce your perception that everything is under control or send you off with a few new tricks.

Workshops at ACI Manitoba don’t only build skill, they also serve as great networking venues. Plus, the low cost is helping to support other local artists. It’s kind of win-win.