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what chance do the rest of us have?

Another really good article about the value of art in our society vs. how it is valued.
I realize I'm posting a lot of these articles lately. Half to bookmark for self, half because they express a lot of my thoughts these days with greater clarity.

gardensatnight phrases wisely (over here on Ello, which is basically like a new livejournal):

Social media makes life - even personal life - oddly impersonal. We click "like" and feel like we've REALLY supported someone (emotionally, or in their work), instead of actually giving real tangible support. For example, someone is fundraising for a project or a charity, or showing their artwork, and we click "like" and feel like we did something good to support them, when really we did nothing. We no longer feel any obligation to actually put our energy or money where our mouth (or mouse?) is. We don't really show up for people.

(i'm on ello, too)

We need to be better at showing up. For art, for music, for film, for theater, for friends, for family, for life, for each other.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
Lots of thoughts. Long, potentially editing in the future for clarity:

I've been thinking about this more and more also, and as much as it breaks my heart, it's also a good, practical conversation to be having. With you, with anyone, and especially with myself.

Sustainability as an artist is a social issue more than anything else. It's not an issue of whether or not people are listening, the fact is the value of art (music, writing, paintings, all of it) has been greatly diminished in our culture.

As an artist, this is almost impossible for me to accept.

It hurts to even think that I may hold an utter lack of value in this world.

But it's critical that I do and you do and we all do, because people aren't deciding that spending $600 on art per year (that in the past they may have spent on artist-made goods like CDs and clothing and original art and anything that wasn't made in China or bought in a big box store) is more important than buying the latest iPhone. Or that showing up for a friend's art show and giving them a hug at their most vulnerable and most ambitious is much, much more important than the easier option of clicking "like" on Facebook.

It's frankly unlikely that they ever will again make that exhausting, consistent level of effort to support art (consciously or unconsciously) when, with their iPhones, they can listen to music for free and view art for free and support their friends without effort, and there's so much – too much – of all of it out there. People just don't care as much, and that's why they're not showing up. (or having these conversations!)

Technology has made art accessible, but has also bottomed out the very idea of having a specific taste and making effort to cultivate it. And everyone and their mother has a project in need of support these days anyway. It really has become exhausting to show up. And expensive! As the article I posted says: Art is not about money, but it's how our society communicates value. (And obviously, our society values the iPhone above all else.)

Because of how our society and its technology has shifted: We can sample it all now and decide later what we valued in retrospect, if we can remember it, if we decide it's worth cramming one more physical object into our over cluttered lives. And if we can afford it.

As the article above says, Every time we go to a library or shop, we want it to be full of new books, and when we search various channels (legal and illegal) for new music and movies, we expect to find them. Someone has to produce this content – this art – and sadly, the shoemakers’ elves are all busy stitching elsewhere. And after it’s been produced, someone has to buy it. Or not buy it, as is more likely the case.

And with technology, we can play, too! We can make pretty much whatever art we want and "put it out there" (art, music, writing) without needing to hone skills and craft and without needing to develop business sense, because technology has made it so easy for anyone to edit their words, filter their photos, open their shop, etc. I've benefited from those open lines of sharing in my own career!

The result is that there is a LOT of crap out there, and we are all just desensitized to art: good or bad. It's just endless and flavorless and replaceable and no longer a connector between us. Nothing is iconic. And so it's lost its value. And so it's lost its monetary value, too.

this article is pretty good in terms of addressing your concerns 1 & 2. ("It’s the story of how an artist, with enough time, pressure, patience, and business acumen, can build a sustainable career while staying true to a vision.")

Having a down-to-earth start to your future career (not just a "happy happy la la la" mantra of do what you love and everything will work itself out! if you build it, they will come!) will help you figure out a way to sustain yourself doing what you love, and to grow as an artist moving toward an idea rather than toward an abstract lifestyle of "just doing what you love" that doesn't exist in reality anymore as far as I know.

(continued in next comment)

Edited at 2014-10-26 11:14 pm (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)

You asked:
Do you feel like you're shouting into the void all the time and nobody is hearing you??

With these posts, I think these are notes-to-self more than anything. It has been very validating to chat about it with you, and every article I read on the subject has created a greater sense of clarity. I've been fortunate to have internal debates about this, and great conversations with people like you, that have made me feel like this issue is getting the attention it deserves in my world.

But with my art, yes, absolutely. I am shouting into the void all the time.

I feel like people's lives are so over saturated, and they just don't really care that much if an artist/musician/writer/etc lives or dies or keeps making things or gives up tomorrow.

That is a heartbreaking thing when you pour your heart into your work every day.

As an artist, I will never be able to compete with the availability and gloss and marketing of something for sale in the Apple store. The only people who can – even a little bit – are, as I've mentioned before, companies powered by tons of money to manufacture and distribute with an army of workers helping to "sell the brand", and being conventionally good looking enough to be a business owner "worth featuring", and honestly, just well-connected PR.

Among artists, this usually means you're white, under 30, and have hair and makeup done before every photo shoot because you're always having photo shoots, maybe moreso than spending time making art. The world doesn't want the reality of one person slaving away in their home, like me, with hair tied up in a messy bun and a strong prescription of glasses, at work 7 days of the week. They want to believe that the work they effortlessly bought at their effortless mall was made effortlessly by an effortlessly beautiful effortlessly graceful individual who spends most of their life effortlessly enjoying an effortless life.

It's wrong in every way.

As an artist, each piece takes individual thought and effort. It takes technical skill and empathy and time and focus. It is much less financially rewarding than, say, selling something mass-manufactured in China for a 1000% markup, or creating something that wasn't your original idea, as these high powered "artist" brands do. But, I do it for the reward of creating something I care about, and to make things in the world that I wish existed.

Does it express anything if there's no listening ear, no one to appreciate it? Does it "exist in the world" if nobody buys it? Is it original if companies are constantly stealing your ideas and profiting off them, selling to a much larger audience than yours? If people don't care about source or originality, they just "like what they like" whether made by hand or made in China? Whether it's a copy of something, an idea thought up by an intern, or an original thought? That's when I feel like I'm shouting into the void: When art is met with what feels like indifference to its origin or without acknowledgment of the effort of thought by the person behind it.

So, how much longer do you keep at your art (or even your life! See: robin williams post) if nobody seems to care or be responsive, before you just give up that part of yourself? I guess that's something I've been thinking about, and trying to answer. This article I posted a few weeks ago was a strong reminder to me to, when it comes to art making and life itself, to try to just enjoy the act of it. To stop feeling like I'm shouting into the void. The questions of "is this sustainable? does anyone care? does anyone have ethics? Will this only be stolen from me?" are important questions to ask ourselves, but the enjoyment and the dignity are still also possible and separate experiences from the end result. This post I shared recently points toward a hopeful future, where we don't "give any more ground to the things that are doing us in."

I don't know what that future looks like yet. But these definitely-not-shouting-into-the-void conversations are helping me figure it out.

So, does that answer the question?

Edited at 2014-10-26 11:36 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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Hey, I'm Susie. I'm a painter, illustrator, crafter, musician, keeper of various pets and proprietor of the website boygirlparty.com

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