Most things are liked because they are popular. We follow popular soccer teams, popular artists, popular songs, and popular politicians.
I know this is a popular thing to do, but let’s decode this deeper.
House music is popular because it listened by a lot of people, certain soccer teams are popular because they are followed by a lot of people, certain reality shows are popular because they are watched by a lot people, all these and more are popular because they people want to be in sync with everyone else.
Lectercity, Wits University or Supersport are not the most popular soccer teams (compared to traditional big teams) even though they perform very well in their leagues at the moment.
People follow popular because they want to fit in, because they want to belong to the most popular, because of the fear of missing out if they don’t belong to most popular. It is popular because it performs well, but performance is but one aspect.
The paradox, the irony, is that you have to walk through a huge valley of unpopular before you arrive at the population that will embrace you because that’s the thing to do.
The mass by definition are average, and average people follow what is popular. People who bring change are very few (not the mass).
The focus on mass acceptance, on the big company or the mass embracing you, distracts you from the difficult work of being embraced by people who lead, not follow.
Follow your art, your craft, be the best in your area of focus. Do it because it is what makes you alive, don’t do it because you want to be popular and want applause.
Doing something because you want to be popular will water down your art to be average because the masses are by definition average.
Focus on your art, not everyone will embrace it and that’s okay, but importantly not everyone will reject it.
Focus on delighting those that embrace it, even if they are not the masses.
The idea of your art is to connect to those that gets it, not to make average art that it appeals to everyone.
Art is not limited to painting only. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal.
Popularity does not mean success.