There is a lot of under-par work out there, put out by businesses and artists alike. Some of it actually makes money—even a lot of money—and amid all the pretty rocks, it can often be difficult to spot the gems. But they’re there, and when you do find one, you keep it, you protect it, and you love it. However, as an artist or businessperson (or both), you should know that an exceptional product alone doesn’t always constitute a gem. In order for your work to leave a mark on the world and affect some sort of change, it must glow with your own personal character.
Think about it like this: There’s nothing quite like picking up a book, listening to an album, or watching a film and knowing that you’re seeing the artist through their work. It’s the difference between the pop hits on the radio that make millions of dollars but disappear in six months, and the classics, the ones that stick around, that we still listen to and feel twenty years after they were first popular. True gems aren’t fleeting. They last because they say something powerful about the people who crafted them and, ideally, something powerful about us, their audience, as well.
So how do you inject your work with your unique character? How do you turn it into a gem? Be brave! Don’t let trends or traditional "wisdom" keep you from getting personal. After all, if you didn’t want to put something powerful into the world, why would you go through the joys and pains of creating it in the first place? Remember to ask yourself what you want your art to say and why that message is important and meaningful to you. If you allow yourself to speak authentically through your art, chances are that someone will hear your message and respond. That’s a gem.