Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interlude. An Exercise in Brevity: Art Finds a Way.

A half-hearted attempt at an op-ed. Fear me, for I am both unqualified and opinionated.

Art finds a way. That’s all there is to it. The landscape of media is changing rapidly, and that’s terrifying, and it’s right to be afraid of that, even afraid of the metaphor: something like a landscape is supposed to change slowly, geologically. If a landscape is changing rapidly it means something catastrophic is happening, a natural disaster or World War I. However, it should not be terrifying to an inhibitive extent for the creative side, only its counterpart, the business aspect, should be stunned to inaction.


No, that’s not right. The salary-men have a right to be stunned to inaction, but they shouldn’t be stunned to inaction, not the good ones. Look, I don’t know about you, but even when I don’t have a lot of time on my hands, if there isn’t some form of entertainment to distract me, I start to vibrate through the walls. If I don’t have a book to read, a TV show or movie to watch, a podcast to listen to, something, I get squirrely. I’m even incapable of writing without music playing. (At this very moment I’m being scolded by Direct Hit! to get pumped). An unintended side effect of mass media is an overwhelming abundance of available entertainment. It has, for large swathes of the population, become an integral part of life, if not a psychological dependency. The demand will never go away, art as entertainment will always find a venue, and people that seek to make money will always find a way to make money with it.


Honestly, what it comes down to is this: if you want to write, draw, paint, sing, dance, sculpt, you should do it regardless of whether or not you’ll make a living with it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to make a living with it, but it shouldn’t be the primary source of your motivation. Frankly, if you’re one of those people with an eye on a creative job thinking it’ll be an easy gig, hang it up and get the hell out of my way or don’t be offended if someone that wants it more (possibly even a nematode like myself with less natural talent than you) steps on your neck at some point and gets the job you want.

Work yourself stupid, hone your interests and talents like you’re a craftsman, and do so with a day job. Everything I’ve ever heard about professional art gigs is that they’re significantly more work than their straight world counterparts, that it’s the passion for the work that keeps people in and excited, that natural obsessive streak for what they’re doing that would probably make them great surgeons if they’d been interested in that.

Anyway, where I was going with all of this is, when it comes to art, the demand is more intense than ever and the supply is, as always, bottomless. Furthermore, that supply comes with a tenacity that means if the proper venue doesn’t exist, it will be created. For examples of this, look at what happened to popular music in the early 1980s.


The concept of indie labels was not always the institution it is now. Television, plays, books, movies, music, the business side of all of these is changing every day, for the most part for the better- lower profits and lower salaries are keeping stakes low and people hungry, two things that are always good for creative endeavors, as are niche markets that create smaller more dedicated audiences.

Ignore the doomsayers. We’re going to be fine, art kids, just keep at it. Oh, and for the snobs out there, just ignore the broad product. Don’t complain, don’t snark, don’t deride, just ignore it. It’s clearly not for you, and nobody is impressed because you don’t own a television. Reality TV, books like Sarah Palin’s, even if you think they’re terrible, they’re often what keeps the lights on for better projects with smaller audiences where profit margins are razor thin and justifying their continued existence to the financial side of broadcast or publishing is incredibly dicey.

This is not a sign of decline, it’s just a new direction and, quite frankly, those of you that talk about the destruction of culture are embarrassing me.