Why We Wait For The Gatekeepers

As artists we can be guilty of:

– waiting to do our best work (sometimes ANY work) until we’ve landed ‘the job’

– waiting to write the show until someone offers us a development grant

– waiting for someone else to put us in front of their established audience


Gatekeepers include…

  • Agents
  • Managers
  • Casting Directors
  • Employers
  • Mentors
  • Critics
  • Producers

Are we seeking permission?


Do you want the gatekeeper’s permission to move forward and do what you need to do?

What if instead you started before you’re ready? (Because you’ll never really be ready.)


Permission feels like it mitigates risk.

When someone else sanctions your work are they really willing sharing the responsibility for its failure or just its success?


Art and innovation are risky by definition.

Making art is creating something new in the world that changes the world to allow itself to exist. It hasn’t been done before and the whole point of creating something new is that it might not work. Making stuff that we know will work is not innovation, it’s duplication.


Are we looking for validation?


We look to gatekeepers for the validation of someone who knows the industry.

But he or she really just knows what has worked before. Chances are they’re no more qualified to see into the future than you are.


The validation you really need is from the market. Your audience. The audience IS the future.

Waiting for a gatekeeper here is simply delaying the opportunity you have to connect with the market and earn the trust and attention of your audience.


Do we hope to conquer fear?


We live in hope that once we’ve been tapped on the shoulder by a gatekeeper, being an artist will be easier.


We hope that our gatekeeper will be our companion when we stand on the precipice looking out over the abyss of possible failure and rejection, or when we walk the high wire…naked and without a safety net.


The best way to mitigate that fear is to turn pro. Make the decision for yourself that you’re going to approach your work as a professional.


You will show up each day and do the work. You will do the work on the days you feel inspired, and you’ll do the work on all the other days too.


You will show your work. Share your progress along the way and announce the date your project will ship.


Keep yourself accountable. Invite feedback.


What are the Gatekeepers looking for?


Gatekeepers are looking for the artists who don’t need them.


Even the best gatekeeper can’t do anything for you until you turn pro and create work for them to amplify.


The more you invest in turning pro now, the less you need the gatekeeper, but ironically the more likely they will be to approach you.


They add their gasoline to the spark you’ve already created.


Gatekeepers can allow access to services, tools and privileges.


Gatekeepers don’t create the art – but they offer opportunities to amplify and leverage it.


They help you share it with bigger audiences and might point you towards additional channels to distribute and monetize your work.


They can elevate your profile and convey status or ‘legitimacy’ to certain circles by association.


Don’t wait.


You can waste weeks, months or years waiting to be picked.


Thinking you need the permission or the blessing of a gatekeeper to go ahead and make work you believe in will hold you back. It can cripple your confidence and feed the resistance/fear/creative avoidance that any artist grapples with.


Remember that by turning pro, you show up each day (even if it’s just in your practise room or at your desk) and do the work that is most important to you and your art.


The more work you can develop, the more you have to show the gatekeeper, the more interesting you will be to them.


The investment you make in your work now instead of waiting will pay off in

  • leverage you can use in negotiations
  • more credit and recognition for your work
  • more creative control over your projects
  • higher earnings


Share This