I've found as an artist that it can be expensive to play it safe and remain quietly neutral—by contrast it's a huge risk to go first and take the creative lead into uncharted territory.
The other option of course—is to become the spoil and take on the role of the negative voice aimed at shooting down new ideas by helping to uncover all of the risks. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered that individual at companies I've worked at both large and small.
You know, the "let's play it safe" person who gets everyone to pause, doubt and fear change. While that role has some short term rewards, it can eventually turn back and bite you like a sidewinder slithering in the dark.
If I'm being truly honest, I would love to have everything I create as an artist be embraced because it's so easy to mistake that embrace as personal acceptance. That temporary comfort that's the opposite of feeling rejected.
The trap is that no matter how much of my work sells, how much of it is accepted or rejected, I'm still an artist—I'm not my art.
Marketing guru Seth Godin summed up this idea beautifully in a statement he made while promoting his new book "The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?".
the project is embraced, it feels as though you're being embraced—and
so rejection must mean precisely the flip side, that they hate you,
because they hate your work. But that's artistic suicide."
"It's not useful to put yourself on the line, life or death do or die. You are an artist, NOT the art. The only way to be vulnerable and go to the edge, is to realize that if your art doesn't work — you'll be back tomorrow with more and better art." Seth Godin
The simple truth is that anything worth doing is going to make you feel fear. If you have passion for something, I encourage you to step out into it, boldly and even blindly if necessary. Try it.
It isn't about how safe can you go—but rather how far can you go in pushing your own creative limits. Doing the unthinkable.
If you suddenly get this uncontrollable feeling that you might be doing something crazy—you probably are. What's wrong with that? Nothing at all—because you are an artist, you are not your art.
As Mr. Godin would remind us about the creative process— it's better to be sorry than safe. I learned to apply the opposite of that. How about you? Unlearning it is the hard part.