“Blog To The Gallery” OR “Starving Artist” ? – Opinion

I have a famous published musician and composer in my ranks of readers. We’ve been having some very thought provoking conversations, which I’ve found very useful and interesting. I thought I’d bring them to the opinion crowd’s attention, as I always learn something when I blog for opinion.

The current question is one of “Blogging for the audience” or as my reader put it “play to the gallery”. It’s essentially a term used in politics for politicians who don’t actually do anything useful, original or that they are paid to, they basically just please the people. Dictionary defines as – “to behave in a way intended to make people admire or support you”


So that’s one half of the paradox, a people pleasing moron, who’s a trained monkey essentially. The audience says “Jump” and the performer says “How high ?”. It’s at the extreme someone who doesn’t really hold any opinions, everything for other people and for the moment. Sycophantic fool ?

The other half of the paradox is the starving artist, activist, designer or whatever. He (or she) doesn’t do what he’s told, he does exactly what he wants or what’s congruent with what he believes. So the audience says “Jump” he might say “F**K off” or he might say “No” or he might say “It’s not congruent with who I am, so no I’m not doing that” or might even be “Yes”, but never “Yes, how high” and so on, I think you get the picture.

At this side of the paradox, ideas are rigid and fixed, opinionated in the extreme. The EXTREMELY opinionated person can be very predictable and uninteresting, and infuriating to talk to. Starts to be a rather one way conversation/relationship if ideas can’t be shared and flexibility enough is present to discuss and learn. If all things are decided, known, categorised, then what room is there for learning and growing ?


Does the starving artist continue blindly painting dog poo on canvasses in the hope that someday he’ll be recognised for the brilliance of dog poo art. Or does he think about what other people like to see on the canvass (a nice sunset perhaps LOL) … Or perhaps he’s the next Einstein developing the next theory of relativity that’ll make time travel possible and make us all immortal. Does he continue with his work, recognised or unrecognised … or do something like design slick websites that people like to use, or perhaps make gadgets to make our lives easier, and people like to use ?

Extremes, I know, I’ve said it to illustrate either side of a paradox – writing on either side of an opinion.

Personally sometimes I blog to the audience, sometimes they blog to me, and sometimes I blog to myself. Blogging has changed from the originally intended “web log”, a long list of numbered diary entries, into something much more social and interactive. Social intelligence I’d say incorporates a degree of opinionatedness, rigidity, unchangeable self and a degree of flexibility, being shaped by others. That’s relational, sycophantic people pleaser isn’t, and the arrogant opinionist isn’t either.

DonCharisma.org Big Buddha Panorama 1
DonCharisma.org Big Buddha Panorama 1

Someone asked me a for a photo of a big gold Buddha. I published nearly 200 photos as a result of one’s day’s shoot. My photography and post processing/digital darkroom improved tremendously as a result. I didn’t do it for the ladies that asked, I did it for me. I am however very grateful for their support and encouragement, it was fun for me, and fun for them. I grew, I learnt and succeeded. I love taking photos, I love the visual side of “creating” and I love that others love what I do. It’s a win-win as I see it.

Another someone recently asked me to take some photos of fruit and vegetable markets in Thailand. I didn’t say “I don’t do markets only sunsets”, but I took it as an opportunity to try something new, that I haven’t done before. Who knows or cares if the audience will like it, or not, I’ll enjoy doing, but not as a sycophant. For me it’s more like two friends enjoying doing stuff together.

Just my take, what do you guys think ?

Lastly thanks again to my musician/composer reader, very insightful thanks for “pushing” me 🙂

Warm regards

Don Charisma

Resources & Sources

Photos – morgueFile

Notes for commenters:

Comments are invited. BUT you are reminded that this is a public blog and you are also reminded to think before you press the “post comment” button. 

Good manners are a mark of a charismatic person – so please keep comments civil, non-argumentative, constructive and related, or they will be moderated. If you feel you can’t comply, press the “unfollow” button and/or refrain from commenting.

I read ALL comments but can’t always reply. I will comment if I think there’s something that I can add to what you’ve said. I do delete without notice comments that don’t follow rules above. For persistent offenders I will ignore you permanently and/or report you.

Most decent people already know how to behave respectfully. Thank you for your co-operation on the above.

Warm regards, Don Charisma


DonCharisma.org Opinion Graphic

69 thoughts on ““Blog To The Gallery” OR “Starving Artist” ? – Opinion

  1. Hmmmm… I suppose it depends on what the purpose of your blog is (in your own estimation).

    When I started blogging ages ago, I wasn’t doing it to necessarily generate business (or even establish one – ha!) or to amass a huge following. I guess I was (and more or less still am) using it as a form of public journaling. I imagine that people who find and read the stuff I write or photos I share will stay on for the ride because something in the sharing resonates.

    Interesting question.

    I have definitely been thinking of overhauling my blog to try to figure out how to monetize it (with other than a humble plea and a tip jar), and whether I would be capable of feeding the sort of content that such a new construct (might? apparently?) requires.

    1. For sure … I think it’s possible to monetize what you’re doing, but it may be from peripheral businesses or sponsors that you actually make a living income … wordads without 100,000s of hits per month won’t do it for you …

      1. Yeah… I don’t even think I have that many hits historically… lol! So sponsorship and peripheral businesses are my next area of investigation. Have any suggestions?

      2. Hmmm, not really, we’ve got a commercial site my business partner and I do web dev/design/seo http://DonCharisma.com … so that’s our general direction … I think there’s plenty of opportunities for passionate motivated people, it’s finding the ones that bring in hard currency that’s tricky. And also will depend on what skills you feel you have and what you think you want to be doing with your time. One lady told me she was freelance writing and earning a living wage doing that. She was getting paid quite little on piece work for writing short articles, but she said she’s a quick writer and one times the other was a living wage for her …

  2. A very thought provoking article. As an artist and writer myself, I try to explore things that I would have not even thought about had a person not suggested it to me. It’s definitely a way to learn more about your artform, and yourself in the process.

  3. First: Interesting post!

    The two ends of your spectrum – the guy who plays to the audience and the guy who paints dog poo … sometimes they are hard to distinguish. I regard many of those “starving artists” with a great deal of suspicion, because often I think they are just serving up what their audience wants like anyone else. There is an audience for shock, for gross, for nutty, and those who paint dog poo are just filling that particular niche. Either that, or they’re just crazy.

    I often don’t know who my intended audience is. But if I feel a particular perspective on a subject is missing in public discourse … if I feel my perspective on a topic is unique, then I try to present that perspective in a clear and concise way. Almost always though, I hope that any audience I have disagrees with me. Otherwise, what is the point? I mean, I learn a lot more from reading things I disagree with than from reading things I agree with. Going out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Not enough people do that, I think.

    Of course, that only applies to certain types of writing, such as political or social commentary.Things get murkier when you’re dealing with fiction. It’s a big more of a challenge for me. 😛

    1. First: thanks !

      Second: You make some very valid points, and the “starving artist” could actually be a sycophant in disguise, that’s gold hadn’t even considered that point of view.

      As for the constantly being in disagreement, I don’t agree. It’s useful to be challenged, to look at opposing viewpoints sometimes, but when it’s constant, a kind of rebellion for the sake of it, personally I find this tiresome and just as cliché if the person had been writing in agreement with everything. You ask what’s the point ? It’s a bit like saying what’s the point of TV shows that are watched by millions or viral articles that are read by millions. Convention, fitting in, being “part of it” have just as much place and importance as originality. I’m arguing devils advocate, because I like originality and new things, but I also see a place for convention and fitting in, a very big place.

      Going outside comfort zone is again another paradox. It’s all well and good whilst I’m in my cozy home, with my 3 nice meals a day to write something controversial on my blog. However too much going and being outside of one’s comfort zone can be damaging, highly damaging to the individual. A soldier who returns with PTSD would be a prime example, it’s an extreme of going outside one’s comfort zone. So comfort zone is needed, very much of importance, and in my view of more importance than the pushing outside of it. The same with blogging, build a comfort zone first and then push outside of it, much more progress made this way.

      And glad you added the caveat, but wouldn’t fiction have MORE scope for originality, pushing outside comfort zone etc than the others ?

      Thanks, very insightful commenting 🙂

  4. I blog for connection – it’s all me, take it or leave it. I feel the sting if it is left, being human (lack of connection)….but I can quickly work through it and feel wonderful that at least it’s my truth and no person can take that from me 🙂 As a newbie to blogging I am attracted to the score keeping – how many bloggers like your post, your highest day etc. – but think that it is anchoring our need to compete. How can we compete when you are you and I am me, yet we are all one having our own experience.
    So far as art goes – our lives are art, we are creating every single minute even if there is no “piece” at the end of it.
    I’ll leave a link to my poem “Funny” if you feel so inclined…if not I’ll catch you when the time is right.
    Don’t give up the sunsets DC! Unless you do 🙂
    Ahhh…duality. This AND that.

    1. Hey Gail, yes that’s very honest appraisal 🙂 the art of life, totally 🙂 as for keeping score, it’s evolved for me, I look it more as competing with myself, rather than competing with others … there are stings, but that’s life, teaches us to be stronger and better able to relate and appreciate those that do matter, the ones that do want to connect to us …

      Many paradoxes in life, middle ways and holistic approaches can be a resolution 🙂

  5. I like the conversations blogging brings. It helps me to re-view, see the gaps and learn new things.

  6. Oops, I hit post before I finished…
    I was going to say, I think I’m good at finding that middle ground. A topic like this needs the middle ground, where respect is the key, personal connections and respect for each other.
    Ask why, set reasonable expectations, and never compromise who you actually are under any circumstance.

  7. I like that you have a Buddha picture in this article, because when I started reading I totally thought, this post needs some Buddhism. Lol. Not kidding.
    I can’t really make this fit into how I blog and paint, I do neither and both. I paint 100% for my audience and for myself. I think of us as one. I give my audience all of me and hope that’s just what they want. But of course I get to know them and consider their requests. If they say Jump, I say, I could but why? I’m usually very good at

  8. Perhaps the trick is to be a starving artist at night and a sycophant during the day, or vice versa – as long as one of those brings bread to the table… oh dear, dilemmas do make life interesting 😀

    1. For sure hun, I think perhaps the enlightened ones switch effortlessly between the two sides of the paradox to adapt to changing circumstances … perhaps one day I will be clever enough to join their ranks LOL

      Dilemmas for sure, but a least we can’t get bored !

    1. LOL Jenny, you’re definitely balanced, humour goes to prove it 🙂 … poo, I’ll let only starving artists do that one, I’m happy with my blog, my photos, my graphic design, my writing and my web building …

  9. As a bona fide “starving” artist in a run-down deathtrap of an abandoned factory loft, I have to say I don’t find it “rigid and fixed” at all…if anything it’s immensely freeing creatively not to have to try and predict or second-guess “will people like it”? I’m free to explore the ideas I’m passionate about, or develop interests in new things to be passionate about, to bob and weave and creatively grow. What I do may not appeal to everyone (I can’t think of anything that does), but the funny thing is, I feel like I’m finally starting to reach the audience that it does speak to, and doing more stuff artistically. But I’ll also be honest I did go through long periods of trial and error, or feeling frustrated and alienated that I didn’t feel I could genuinely jive with the current trends. But in the long term, that’s part of the process of being and artist too.

    1. So you’ve only served to prove yourself as not at the extreme end of starving artist, activist, designer, cook, baker or candlestick maker …

      I don’t find you entirely rigid or fixed Jenny, I see a lot of flexibility and humility, and after all anyone who admits to watching reality TV is very much tied into what’s popular … and isn’t blogging “popular” too ?

      Roughly what I’m trying to say Jenny is that I see a lot of balance, I see flexibility along with strong opinions … This makes me able to relate to you, it’s relational, not a one-way street. Strength I can rely on, it’s integrity, and flexibility is needed for things like humility, compassion and forgiveness. Without flexibility, relationships are short, last only up to the point of disagreement.



      1. Thanks Don…I guess that’s kind of what I was trying to say…I feel like being the “starving artist” (though we’re not really starving, I know how to work within a fixed income! :)) I have the room to be flexible, though I’ve also heard my share of “your work is good but its not currently MARKETABLE”.

        I don’t remember talking about reality tv? I mainly see that at my grandmother’s house, the Spanish reality programs she likes. I’m a sucker for prime time cartoon shows though…Simpsons, South Park, Boondocks, etc. which is also very much in the popular culture.

      2. Jenny that entirely makes sense to me … I seem to remember you mentioning some guy on one of the shows a while back, although as I have zero interest in reality TV myself, I forget the details !



  10. Great post Don. I am/was a very opinionated, one side or the other kind of guy, but I am trying very hard to change that. There is a great deal of benefit to doing and thinking for that matter, what makes one happy regardless of what the audience at large might be, although it also can be beneficial to just sit quietly and listen once in a while because alternative points of view can be very enlightening if you are willing to hear them out. The later is what I am working on trying to improve. I know that whatever opinions I may have about something, they are just my opinions and as with any opinion there are always opposite points of view.

    1. For sure, very much how I feel about it … I’ve learnt a great deal from being the leader of opinion posts, and so many wise and helpful people it beggars belief … I’m working on the alchemy of using conflict for positive, but I emphasise the “working on” same as you …

  11. I think it depends entirely on what you want to do. If you do something that someone asks because it will be helpful to all involved then that can only be a good thing right?
    And for the record – those new ad popups are annoying.

    1. For sure. In an encouraging community people are capable of much more than in a discouraging community, at least that’s been my experience 🙂

      For the record, yes I know !

  12. Don great post-Lol I probably appear to be the Opinionated a**hole SA type, (I am actually interested in dialogue, but I may not come across that way). Never been a jes to popular type, I’ve always been a one extreme or t’ other kind’a guy…Ahh well, what’dya do :).
    By the way I dig n really appreciate yer photo’s n often use them as my desktop image…

    1. Thanks, and no, my impression of you has been quite the opposite, I’ve experienced social savvy-ness and non-argumentative well thought through and put comments. Arrogant overly opinionated people’s comments largely get fed into either the trash can or spam queue, dependant on their level of disrespect, argumentativeness etc. My disclaimer is designed to weed out, as we say in the UK, “wankers” … Your comments appear loud and clear on my blog …

      So I’ve got your number as charismatic, NOT a-hole … and thanks for the heads up on the desktop image, I have an experiment that’s been brewing, more details to follow 🙂

      1. Don. thanks so much fer the kind words. As the old sayin goes, yer a gentleman, a scholar, n not paid half what yer worth . Thanks again also fer sharin yer knowledge as well as yer art.

  13. I blog for my family and friends so they know I am alive and doing well. My family lives all over the country. However, I’ve noticed a lot of my interests are popular. Like gardening, eating local and organic, painting, barefoot living, and some political activism like supporting local farmers, backyard gardeners, and chicken fanciers. Also I like blogs pointing out big bully corporations and governments through and productive ways to fight back. I am not a writer but now I am trying to improve my writing skills and pay attention to who my audience might/could be. But I don’t like a lot of attention … that’s so funny, I giggle writing this. I do enjoy reading good blogs though, I’ve found all sorts of helpful information and beautiful art. Keep on blogging/sharing. I post through WordPress to several social networks were my family and friends hang out.

    1. That’s it in a nutshell, change a few of the activities and subjects and you’ve just described me … only thing I would add is the my family is a larger extended one which includes the general public …

      I was quite surprised about the interests that I have being shared with others same as you … but very glad as it means that what I do is being connected to by lots of other people …

      As for family and friends, not all are interested or positive about my blogging … which I don’t mind, I’m doing what I enjoy, so up to them …

      1. Thank you Don! I like the idea of the audience as my family. The connection is so important to me right now. My Mom has cancer and my blogging makes her feel happy. My immediate family loves my blogging, so do the cousins I took care of when they were babies and now they have babies of their own. Everyone in my family paints including a couple of my cousins. The gardening part of my blog is dedicated to my Grandma Dorothy who feed the family with her gardening skills during the last Great Depression. She was into health foods and supplements before they had become popular. Take care and I am looking forward to more writing ideas and support from my family as I work on improving my writing skills.

  14. I think it is somewhere in between. I am a musician, singer and write some songs, but my profession has been in the healing field, doing one on one alternative therapies, along with teaching public workshops and taking them into companies, govt. agencies, etc.

    My commitment all my life has been spiritual, and service is a huge value for me, but my offerings have to come from my passion and the guidance I receive. I am presently officially trained in 16 therapies as well as well versed in numerous other ones, and yet, I can meet some potential client and they ask if I do “blah blah” the latest fad therapy and I have to say no…but i do about 25 more and they aren’t interested as they want the newest fad. I can’t worry about that or I’d be going after credential after credential and who does that serve? At the same time though, i understand that I do need to be aware of what people are looking for, so I know how best to market my work.

    I was doing this work starting 35 years ago, at a time when few people were into it, or paying for it, as it was my passion and arose out of my own search for healing help. And over the years, I have had to walk that middle line as needed.

    1. Thanks Katelon, useful, can’t add much, other than to say good on you for sticking with what works rather than what’s “new” purely because it’s “new” 🙂

  15. I enjoy your explorations on your blog…but am an idle blogger myself, just writing about what interests me at the particular moment.
    I do read a couple of blogs which set out to be – not controversial, but assertive, on matters like religion, feminism, etc…and enjoy the exchange of views there, but have enough controversy in daily life without wishing to blog about it.

    1. Helen, you are a lady after my own heart, I’m certainly blogging about what interests me at the time !

      And with you on the controversial, my life has plenty of struggles without making additional ones online, generally I actively strive to avoid …

  16. That’s actually a fascinating conundrum. There is definitely that dilemma when it comes to art and blogging, but also in regards to relationships with people. How much are you willing to compromise with them, to be open to changing your views versus trying to remain true to yourself in the face of so much opposition? Heck if I know, it’s a conundrum.

    1. For sure … I think the conundrum exists elsewhere, certainly jobs I’ve worked, there’s a trade off between the art and the money … the money usually wins, not because we’re “sheeple” but I think because we need to pay our rents, take care of ourselves and our loved ones and communities …

  17. Um, were you talking about me?! I started my blog as part therapy (for myself) and partly because I hoped I had information that was useful to others. It didn’t take long for me to dabble in politics, and it didn’t take long for me to decide I don’t like arguing with “sheeple” (people who think and behave as they are told).

    What I did find out quickly is that I am an attention whore! I find myself gravitating towards posts that cater to the bulk of the search terms that plop readers in lap. As penance for my shameless pandering, I spent hours on the last post I wrote, laboriously adding links to my tens of sources.

    Apparently, whether I write to soothe my soul or to steal the spotlight, my blog boils down to ego 🙂

    1. LOL, not really, it was for me, for my musician/composer friend, for my readers and for you … it’s a paradox … glad you indentified with it, you are obviously not a sheperson (sheperson, being the singular of sheeple)

      Personally I don’t mind “sheeple”, whilst they are peaceful, happy and doing good in the world. There’s many sheeple that raise families, are charity workers, nurses, doctors, etc who might be vaguely insulted by being called sheeple, and with good reason. It’s the “sheeple” that are involved in cruel and evil stuff that bother me. And this would be the same if they rebelious starving artists were involved in doing the same thing.

      Blogging has moved into social media, and social media is about the crowd. So gravitating towards posts that cater for the bulk, is nothing unusual!

      As for “ego” I think that’ll be a later or sooner opinion post, it’s a very overused word with far too many meanings …

  18. My thoughts are the same as I have read in your words… it is a balance. In your case it is trickier, as it is also a live and this is a very fine line to walk and not loose. My blog is not really a blog, but more a series of article providing information that a wide range of people come to from search engines. I do it mostly to be of service and occasionally for something to do. I have had a website since 1997, so i am clear with what i am doing and the whys. I have expressed what I have to say.

    One reason I enjoy your blog, as I mentioned before is I enjoy watching the live experiment of Don Charisma blogging. Will he be able to keep his balance and how long will he want to this before he gets burnt out? This is what is interesting to me. ^_^ Thanks for the entertainment and with this a sort of friendship in a blogging community, XO,S.

      1. And obviously where ever it goes is perfect… it is all about the journey! It seems reality tv is popular because we can watch and be a part of other people’s journey and with your blog there is a little bit of a shared experience about the journey, which is lovely. It is all lovely really. You are a beautiful being and this is part of why following your blog is so enjoyable.

      2. That’s lovely hun, and thank you … In some ways I’m quite reserved so the curtains aren’t open all the time on DonCharismaRealityTV …

        I’d summarise that blogging has moved from “web log” to entertainment, in alignment with other social media …

  19. We live in a world of dichotomies and paradoxes. Living within the extremes tends to release some modicum of peace, even when one holds an extreme position. Some of my blogging is intended to stimulate respectful dialogue between people of different ideologies. I recognize that in order for this to happen, all parties must agree to “play nice”, which doesn’t always, happen. Fortunately for me, some of my more recent blogging is simply a creative release to express some of the non-sensical flotsam that whirls through my mind. Yes, it is all good!

    1. For sure Steve … and as for playing nice, sometimes, sometimes not, hence the disclaimer at the bottom of my post 🙂

      I think ultimately the balance I find in paradoxes isn’t fixed, sometimes I go one way or another, depending on circumstances at the time. Sometimes I fixed and rigid, other times I’m flexible … change happens, and sometimes it doesn’t !

  20. I think it begins with writing what YOU want to write. Having your voice be heard. I often ask anyone who reads what I’ve written to chime in, to comment, to give their opinions, etc. And sometimes they’ve given me an idea or suggestion on what to blog about, and it’s my own interest that propels me forward in writing. Maybe something you’ve written doesn’t chime well with others one day- maybe you’ll get a ton of readers the next, but I find if I’m writing something I’m not interested in, my writing is never as good. Great topic!

    1. For sure, so passion and enthusiasm in one’s writing (and creating) shows, and makes a difference … I find audience encouragement serves as a catalyst … so pretty much what you’ve said 🙂

  21. What I have found interesting, and perhaps a little disappointing about blogging (it’s only been a couple of months for me) most of the people following me are other bloggers (which is great and I am so enjoying all the blogs I follow) but not people I know in ‘real life’ who had a quick look and that was that. So I guess blogging is an exchange really, you read me and I’ll look at your drawings….?! I am learning….but it’s all good 🙂

    1. Totally Kate, I’ve had similar experiences.

      This is one of the reasons I use things like publize to push my posts out to other social networks. Also traffic can come in from Google. But it’s generally mostly in my experience that on wordpress, it’s generally other bloggers that are the commenters. Other social networks like FB, twitter or G+ may bring a larger audience of commenters …

      Hope that made sense !

      Warm regards


    2. Same here, actually! 😛

      I put my blog together over a year ago to support a Youtube channel, then discovered that the content was really to narrow for a blog. So I let the blog fester unused for a year, until I decided to expand it to broader topics.

      The audience is fairly small, but I figure if it’s any good, it will grow. And I’m using it as a vehicle to coerce myself to write, so in that sense the blog fulfills it’s primary function whether an audience exists or not. 🙂

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