Portrait of an old Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The only reason we know that both, an emperor as well as a slave, both practiced the same philosophy that inspires people even now in this day and age, is because the former’s personal notes and the latter’s words compiled by a student, have come down to us through the ages.

The only reason that Leonardo Da Vinci has such a legacy, is that the few pieces of his work that were created and displayed, have somehow, miraculously lasted the ravages of the past half century. But so much of his work was unpublished, stowed away in private journals, never to be seen for centuries. How much more would we have known, or learnt if only? If only.

Decades of stunning art, never released. No one knew the genius of Vivian Maier, when she was alive.

a street photograph, by Vivian Maier

From John Maloof’s, Vivian Maier, Maloof Collection

Like David Kadavy writes,1

Finishing what you start is overrated.
Contrast this with many other things Leonardo never finished. The observations that lie hidden in his notes would have advanced humanity by centuries in the fields of medicine, flight, geology, and more. These sketches and notes weren’t finished – but, most tragically, they weren’t published.
You don’t have to finish to have an impact. You do have to publish.

Honoré De Balzac had it right,

“For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed”

On which Austin Kleon expounds2

If you just focus on getting really good, Martin says, people will come to you. I happen to agree: You don’t really find an audience for your work; they find you. But it’s not enough to be good. In order to be found, you have to be findable. I think there’s an easy way of putting your work out there and making it discoverable while you’re focused on getting really good at what you do.

Imagine if your next boss didn’t have to read your résumé because he already reads your blog. Imagine being a student and getting your first gig based on a school project you posted online. Imagine losing your job but having a social network of people familiar with your work and ready to help you find a new one. Imagine turning a side project or a hobby into your profession because you had a following that could support you.

Or imagine something simpler and just as satisfying: spending the majority of your time, energy, and attention practicing a craft, learning a trade, or running a business, while also allowing for the possibility that your work might attract a group of people who share your interests.

All you have to do is, Show Your Work.

Austin Kleon’s blackout art. The exposed text says,“Crafting something, is  a long uncertain process. A maker should show her work”

From Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work

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  1. all emphases mine ↩︎

  2. in his book Show Your Work ↩︎