Marisa D. Aceves. Aquamarine Composition 2. Digital Photography. http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves


As artists our greatest hope is that people both value and appreciate our work.

Perhaps our deepest fear is that no one cares about the work we produce; we are painting for an audience of one.

While we many of us work diligently on our marketing campaigns, we begin to entertain that dreaded question that often keeps us up at night:

“Who is my audience?”

It becomes clear that in our search for individuality (a definitive style, subject matter,etc.), in order to be something to someone, we can’t be all things to all people.

Yet sometimes, our need to please everyone sends us in a million different directions as we desperately try to corner every conceivable market. 

Many years ago, I had a friend who placed all of his self-worth on wether or not people liked him. Whenever we met someone new or spent quality time with one of his old friends he literally morphed into the person that he believed that they wanted him to be. He would always let me pick the places were we should go, but he never would make a decision as to where he wanted to go.  I strongly believe that during this period of his life, he felt directionless. Eventually, he grew to resent the fact that he was losing himself to other people’s agendas. As controlling, manipulative people began to enter his life, I saw less and less of the potential writer who was full of wit and more of the suffocated “yes” man that he had agreed to become. 

Trying to please everyone around us is almost always a recipe for disaster.

Inevitably, we lose ourselves and our self respect. 

An incessant need for outside validation can often override our unique vision. 

Defining our work may set us apart in the marketplace, but not every marketplace is right for our work.

We do want to please people, but we don’t want to become a people pleaser in order to get there.

So what is the difference between people pleasing and pleasing people?


When we fall into people pleasing behaviors, we want everyone to love our art, but not everyone will.  

In order to counter disapproval, rejection, lack of interest in others etc., we try to graft aspects of their likes and interests onto our work or we create work in a myriad of styles without committing to one.

 The end result is that we drown in a self-imposed prison of miscellaneousness. 

We don’t give ourselves the chance to discover who we really are or what we believe. 

When we finally do commit, we commit to things that simply don’t interest us or things that take us away from where out focus needs to be, our art.

We become easy targets for manipulative people who have their own agendas.

When we become attached to them, their reputation follows us as well.

People pleasing doesn’t please customers either.

If prospective customers can’t get a sense of who you are and what your work is about, they won’t trust you or your business enough to develop the kind of connection necessary to result in a future sale.

Basically, people pleasers find they lack vision and focus.  They develop both personal and career resentments as they sense that they are slowly losing themselves as a result of their fear of losing other people.



Pleasing people is quite a different approach.  

Eventually, we find our audience when we know who we are and what we like.

We make no apologies for our differences, but use those to fuel our creativity.

We don’t try to speak to everyone, rather we are content to address those who share our interests,  tastes, and beliefs.

Listening to constructive criticism is viewed as an important part of our development, but we don’t necessarily feel that we have to apply all of the suggestions we are given.

Happiness occurs when we make time for others, but we don’t let their schedules run our lives. 

We are able to say “yes” to some opportunities and “no” to others without burning bridges.

We carefully listen to what our customers and supporters find valuable, while correcting those things that slow down our business or keep it from being profitable.

With this knowledge, we can approach future business opportunities not with a people pleasing victim mentality, but with a self-assurance and preparation that helps us to please the people we are meant to address.




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