9 No-Nos That Could Cost You Artistic Integrity

Lately everybody’s brimming with excitement over American Idol, and in the wake of this week’s (very entertaining) auditions for season 9, I’d say there’s a lesson for us artists to take away. Even if AI is not your thing. Even if you think you’re the hottest thing since Madonna. Or Picasso. Or William Shakespeare. Even if Adam Lambert’s rendition of Ring of Fire scarred you to death (although it might interest you to know that I am now a fan of Adam Lambert).

That lesson is a little something I like to call artistic integrity. Whether you sing, draw, build, write, or click, it’s something all of us artists have. It’s our passion fused to our confidence, and when we don’t show it, it shows. And it’s the showing versus the not-showing that reflects on us as artists, as people.

Take a lesson from some of the less-than-stellar AI auditioneers this week, and know that what you say and how you appear really does make a difference. Have some fun with these nine no-nos (yes, in honor of season 9) that just might flush your artistic integrity down the toilet. Of course, it’s always important to focus on the positive as well, which you’ll find after each one of these:

1. Being in a rush – the “let’s get this over with” attitude

When coming before fellow artists, especially ones in your own field, it’s important to be personable. Walking into a room without even so much as a “hello” first, makes it look like you’re just not that much of a fun person to be around. And when it comes to entertaining or inspiring, the fun is what makes it all worthwhile.

2. Looking ill-at-ease or seeming to lack confidence – to an extreme

It’s one thing to feel nervous, in fact it’s normal to feel a little bit nervous because it’s important to get that adrenaline pumping. But when you don’t feel confident, you don’t just “look a little nervous”, you look like you don’t believe in yourself and your ability. Stand up for yourself without compromising others’ respect and your own dignity, and what you can do will speak for itself.

3. Letting confidence morph into arrogance

You might think you’re talented, you might think you’re hot stuff, and you might think you’re cool for acting this way…but generally speaking, usually the kind of people that act like this don’t actually “have the goods to back it up”. Or it makes those so-called “goods” less appealing. On the flip side, it’s okay to know you’ve got talent. It’s okay to know that you have the guts and promise to go places. But you let that show through your talent and your humble silence that says, I am good.

4. Lacking information and preparation

When you’re about to do something that means so much to you, whether it’s a life-changing moment or just an important moment in your life, it makes so much sense to put all you’ve got into it. So why, if an artist has been waiting their whole life for this one moment, would they ever take the leap ill-prepared? Show ’em you mean business by showing them that you know what you’re doing. Get your facts straight, learn a little more about what you’re up against, and walk in there and do what you have to do knowing you did everything possible to make this happen.

5. Inability to wait

You know what the Chinese proverb says, patience is a virtue – of which many people have none. Let’s face it, in any endeavor worth striving for, you’re going to have to do some waiting sometime. Whether it’s thirty minutes, an hour, a day, a month, a year, years…some sort of wait is inevitable. Especially in an artistic industry. From something as big as waiting for a book or record deal, to something as simple as waiting in line, you’re going to have to come to terms with exercising a little patience. You might find yourself surprised at how it affects your attitude, mindset, and overall package.

6. Ignoring your limitations

There’s something to be said for those that completely understand the level of their talent and ability. Not a self-bashing or insecure outlook. I’m talking about a genuine knowing of what you can do. It takes a lot of maturity to admit that maybe you need a little bit more practice, or maybe you need to work a little bit harder at your career, or maybe you need to stop and think about why you’re going down this road in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with saying, I need more time because in the long run, truly knowing yourself is what will take you to where you need to go.

7. Angered by criticism

When it comes to getting feedback, there are two kinds of artists: those that can take criticism, and those that can’t. What gets me are the ones that think they can take it but actually can’t. But if you can’t, and be honest with yourself, know that about yourself. Don’t pretend it doesn’t bother you and then let it bother you; instead, learn to get past the letting it bother you. Learn to take your critique (no matter how harsh) gracefully, and with a smile – and the smiling is important. Learn to discuss instead of argue. It will certainly, without a doubt, at least win you brownie points. And it will get easier.

8. Masking or compensating with unnecessary”bling”

Some are the type to compensate for their lack of ability (or lack of something) with what I like to call “bling” – like a wacky costume or crazy pre-conceived “image”. For others it can be more about “looking cool” than a lack per-se, but it detracts from yourself and your talent more than you might think. Once you pile all that extra fluff on, you might be more noticeable, but you have to stop and think, what is it I want them to notice? Help people to notice what makes you stand out, rather than forcing the standing-out.

9. Disrespect
This is a big one. Imagine this: you’re a pro at what you do, you enjoy shaping others who have promising talent in your specialty – naturally, you expect these “others” to look to you in excitement for advice and encouragement, right? Well, imagine this instead. Rudeness, with a capital R. It’s amazing how somebody looking to improve (or maybe they’re not looking to improve?) can be so disrespectful to more experienced artists that hold the power to help. You asked for their consideration. Be gracious. Be happy. And most of all, be the respect you yourself demand.

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By Tanya

Tanya Marcy is a writer, storyteller, and avid reader who loves advising writers and mentoring young creatives.