Last night a friend on Facebook commented that she had just watched the movie, “Field Of Dreams” for the umpteenth time and found it the most amazing experience. I thought about that for a while and then commented:
‘Its interesting because I spent so much of my life working on the “If You Build It They Will Come” principle, but more recently my experience has been more like, “You better find out what people want before you build it or they probably won’t come!”. I think it has a lot to do with meeting people where they are at.’
At first I felt a bit bad for having added a comment like that (which was at odds with the stream of other supportive comments!) but when I thought more I realized that it was important to say. Hollywood is great at teaching the (extremely important) visionary aspects of life but often it leaves out the details of the practical steps that happened to make the dream a reality.
In the art marketing room, I have so often seen artists create great works of art and show them at art fairs, group shows, studio events, and online galleries and stores with extremely mediocre results. Creating the art and booking the event was the “if you build it” part. But “they (the buyers) didn’t come” – or not too many of them anyway!
So, what is wrong with this “If you build it, they will come” principle that intuitively feels SO RIGHT?
I read in a book once that life here is about becoming like an eagle. Doves are pretty and innocent, but the eagle has wisdom and experience. That concept has haunted me (in a good way) for a long time and I think on it often.
The eagle, I think would have the dream and the vision but would also know from experience that bringing the vision into reality requires planning, practical steps, and a lot of follow through. Both are needed.
But lets get back to the movie. Ray has the vision/voice, and then does a huge amount of work to piece together the puzzle and to build the baseball field and bring the players together. Then, word of mouth spreads like a wildfire and in the end of the movie we see a line of cars several miles long streaming in – paying customers who will save Ray’s farm.
So, the movie actually shows the complete cycle from vision through to manifestation. It was actually a perfect example of what can happen! But there are a couple of practical problems. The first one is that what most of us took away from that movie was the line:
If You Build It They Will Come
Ask anyone about “Field Of Dreams” and I bet that’s what they will quote back to you. But that is only a piece of what Ray demonstrated in the movie. He did a lot of work (beyond building it) to “make them come”.
But here is the real kicker. That wasn’t what the voice said to Ray. What it said was, “If You Build It HE Will Come”. Meaning – his father.
Most of us managed to edit that in our memory over time. We thought it was promising that a market would happen if we created something – but that was NOT the message of the movie.
The second problem I have is that even though I really admire the spiritual principles of faith and vision exemplified in “Field Of Dreams”, my worldly experience has been just a little different. In my experience you need the inspired vision but you also need to test it and ask really practical questions like:
- Is my market ready for this or is it something for the future?
- How could I create a marketing plan to help my market understand why this is important for them?
- How could I bridge from the vision I see to where my market is now?
I think that is what the wise eagle would do. And those principles can be very effectively applied to any business venture (including the art business).
If you build it will they come? Only if you take care of all the important planning and details. “Field Of Dreams” is an amazing movie that shows how we humans can grow and heal spiritually. But when it comes to marketing and selling you need to blend it with a little “Glengarry Glen Ross“!
I really welcome your comments on this topic.
You have a great way of putting things into perspective! A dream is great and the excitement behind it can push us to leap before we are ready. So true that much thought needs to be put behind a marketing plan, and any subsequent events. In hind sight, I can smile and admit I am a perfect example of what NOT to do!
However, I will never give up on the dream…in this case my Dad's dream. So, lesson learned and onward we go.
Keep up the great work, love all the solid advice.
Thanks 4 the comment Ruth. I have my own (long) list of examples of what not to do! It was a real revelation for me when I realized that most of us were remembering a flawed and incorrect message from the film though.
Even the official Field Of Dreams Movie Site (http://www.fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com/) has the incorrect, "If you build it THEY will come" on the home page. Very strange?
Daniel, pointing out the misquote is fine, although what the movie seems to depict visually is “If you build it THEY will come”. And probably most people and artists will want to see it that way, preferring the thought that if one can imagine it strongly enough that IT WILL HAPPEN.
But perhaps what you do is also what most humans do, look at so called "reality" and say "yes, but we have to be practical about this". "It does not square with what I see or know".
But there are many people who don't look at "reality" and press on with their vision and achieve success just because the want it so much. That was also the suggestion of the movie. So can everyone get their dreams? Unfortunately not because all too often we take count of what has happened and it stops us cold. For the artist we count our sales or visitors to our shows and number of galleries we are represented by and think we are lacking and think we need to be better at marketing. But making better procedures for marketing is no guarantee for success.
My suggestion is that we as artists still need THE DREAM, to focus on the dream, to focus on our love of the art we make. Yes add in marketing expertise if this supports and expands the dream, but don't lose sight of THE DREAM.
Thanks for the comment. I wasn't meaning to downplay the importance of "the dream" – I really appreciate how important that is. My point was that dreams and taking action go together to create success – and I realize that success means all sorts of different things depending on where each person is at – which makes this whole topic all the more interesting!
I think the opposite of "the dream" is too often true – where people follow mechanical actions without any vision or inspiration to support them. "Welcome to the machine" as Pink Floyd would say.
In my experience, when I have an inspiration there is a phase where it is all about focusing and the power of intention – like powering up a big electromagnet which can pull in the people and the experiences needed to make the vision a physical reality (if that is the desired result). But then after that there is nearly always a series of practical physical steps that need to be taken to make it physically real.
Just my experience though – appreciate your comment.
Doh! I'm going to have to go see "Glengarry Glen Ross" now. I remember "Field of Dreams" but GGR only by name. (!)
I like the wise & experienced eagle metaphor, and I can see it flying high and really getting a good perspective, both from where it has been to where it is headed. Wisdom, pause, reflection. Also something like wings to fly, but feet to walk on the ground. Dream but ground it, move it in and through the world.
Thanks Daniel. Nice to stop by – it's been too long. 😉
Hi Latifah – I missed this comment of yours a while back. Thanks for contributing. Hope you got to see GGR by now – pretty intense movie! ~ Daniel.