For 11 years, Bob Ross delighted PBS viewers with The Joy of Painting, a half-hour show featuring the artist re-creating various scenes, settings, and objects on his canvas.
What was brilliant about Ross was that every movement he made on the show was like watching the Buddha explain the mysteries of the universe. When you were through, you felt energized to accomplish grandiose feats with a paint brush. You felt serene, happy, and inspired. Ross was known to make very subtle jokes throughout his show that allowed the audience to float between awe and laughter during the episode.
In the current “constant flow of information” culture of the 21st century, we sometimes don’t know what we should hold back or show to the public. The DIY culture is alive and strong. People want to know your brand’s narrative at a cursory glance, and lots of folks like to look behind the curtain to see what makes your company tick in determining whether they should give you their business.
On my own Instagram page, I’ve made a conscious effort to show the process of my own artwork. I’ve even changed my own homepage on my portfolio site to show my Instagram feed, first and foremost.
Why? Why would I pull the curtain back and show how the artwork comes together? I’m an educator and artist, and I also run an educational website about DIY culture called MakingComics.com. Revealing my process is vital to marketing my image as a professional.
Bob Ross felt very similarly. In fact, Ross never took a paycheck for The Joy of Painting. Instead, he used his series on PBS to directly help him market and sell his goods through Bob Ross Inc.
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Let’s look at a couple of ways we can learn from Bob Ross to enhance the visibility, quality, and engagement of your business – and your blog – by emphasizing creativity as a process.
Plan the Show
Ross was undoubtedly a master of painting – there are hours upon hours of footage to prove this. One thing that most don’t realize about Ross was that he was also an expert at marketing. Ross’s signature afro? He hated it! Ross knew, however, that part of selling his expertise and work was maintain an iconic image. So plan for the way you are going to stand out – and maintain it. Carefully figure out what your “afro” is.
Make It Look Flawless
A better piece of advice might be: “Make your mistake look intentional.” Ross was the king of filling a half-hour segment on art instruction. He did this by doing the slow reveal. Each stage of the painting was planned out so that you got a greater picture every minute of what the final piece was going to be.
Go watch an episode of The Joy of Painting. The engaging part of the show is how very intentionally Ross mixes in the “reveal” with the process. When starting a new project within your business – and rolling out content on your blog – try to examine how you can balance intrigue and exposure as a visual narrative. This way, like Ross, you can keep your audience engaged in wanting to see the outcome of all of your work while they’re watching it unfold.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Fun of Yourself
Most people don’t know that before Ross was the beloved painter, he served for 20 years in the Air Force, retiring as a Master Sergeant. His time in the military gave him the knowledge of how he didn’t want to be.
When creating the persona for The Joy of Painting, Ross calmed his persona down, in opposition of his former life, and played up his humor. Ross is a master of inflection and such key phrases as “painting the happy trees,” as well as the way he would excitedly clean his brush. He knew he was painting in front of an audience.
Know that you’re painting the picture of your business in front of an audience, as well. Humor allows people to come into your space and relate to you. Find your brand of humor, like Ross did, and use it to connect with your audience.
Work on it, incorporate it, and play with it so that your audience can find ways of feeling “in on the joke” with you – but also give them quality.
How do you highlight creativity as a process on your business blog? Let us know in the comments!
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