I became aware of this book via another, Justin Heazlewood's "Funemployed: Life As An Artist In Australia". In one chapter, Heazlewood discusses the challenges facing artists when it comes to networking, and he includes quotes from Cain. She argues that in the modern era people have to prove themselves in a crowd of strangers, so qualities like magnetism and charisma become very important. Trouble is, most artists are introverts who feel at their most alive when they are in quieter, low key environments.
"It's little wonder artists find the concept of networking and self-promotion confronting, as industry demands are in direct opposition to there psychological makeup." HEAZLEWOOD He argues the notion of the social artist is problematic on several levels. It assumes a one-size-fits-all approach where introverts must adapt or die to an extroverted ideal. It shifts the priority from an artist's work to their personality.
"Solitude matters", says Cain. It's where artists gain their inspiration. I like Heazlewood's comment that artists, once the cultural beacons and outsider innovators are stripped of their context as they become high profile participants in a Big Brother chatroom. "This peer-pressured social matrix threatens to hijack an artist's creative brain."
So is the internet the answer? Given I've recently sold a painting online and rented another online, perhaps the answer is yes. But only if you know how to use it. Heazlewood describes Facebook as allowing you to experience social anxiety from the inconvenience of your bedroom.
After viewing Susan Cains TED talk, I intend to get hold of this book.