Recently, we had dinner out at sushi restaurant. They had Japanese writing on the menus, they had Japanese wait staff, and they had lots of other Japanese-style options for you to choose from (including Green Tea ice cream). Excellent! Until... we listened to the music they were playing, and it was Australian pop music! It was surprising to hear it, and rather incongruous with the rest of the surroundings.
This led me to think about art (as usual), and how we do the same thing with our art practice and our paintings. Instead of tapping into what is consistent and right for our work (and ourselves) we look around and say: "what do they want?"
Usually, that's an excellent question! It helps keep the customer's needs in focus (after all, it's all about them, really) BUT, when it comes to art, the customer wants something unexpected from you. They want to see a new take on things, they want to feel like you know what you're doing, like this is pouring out of you, and you can't stop it. Like it's OTHER. A rare moment to experience the unexplainable, to be lost in a moment.
Looking inside yourself, leaning in to what feels right, seems to lead to better authenticity. And that, my friend, is what people are looking for. And they can spot it a mile off (which is crazy to think about, but that's how it is).