Saturday, October 5, 2013

Art or Graft?

The ability to effectively express ourselves through an aural, visual, or language-based medium makes us Artists.

The role of Art in society is to represent in an abstract and visceral way the moment of time we live in, like a snapshot of the current state of our collective cultural journey. As conduits of this representation Artists have to be both hypersensitive to the momentary state of our environment, and absolutely truthful in our expression of it's effect on us.

I believe that the majority of us begin our journey in music (or any other art form) driven by a passion to express ourselves through it. What happens to those of us who decide to make it central to our lives is that in making it our "career" we need to make a living from it. This creates a conflict of interest.

The artist's struggle has eternally been the quest to reach an audience sufficient to provide the means to sustain one's life without compromise to one's expression. Unfortunately the realities of earning a living will often mean that we find ourselves reducing our expression in order to broaden our appeal. This will inevitably mean that we are using the skills developed to express ourselves, instead to fulfill an existing demand within the commercial market.

If, during our period of intense study and growth - normally during our teens an early twenties - we focus on the highest possible development of our art, we can emerge into the market with an already highly developed expression. In doing so we give ourselves the advantage of perhaps finding a niche within that market doing the thing we do best - and enjoy most. At worst we will be doing something on the right track which will get us there in time.

If, however, we focus our education on preparing us for the practicalities of the existing "industry" we actually become part of the problem. Where the modern take on education in the arts often fails is that it directs our focus towards developing skills specific to a job description. Practical from some points of view perhaps, but in my view pointless. This will be the reality you face anyway when you emerge into the market to offer your services. If you arrive with all your creative guns blazing, you will very likely be able to choose where you sit.

To be able to do what we are passionate about and earn good money should be the goal for all intelligent humans. Follow your passion and skills develop along the way to make you good at what you do; you will then be able to set a price to your product. Follow good money and you will probably hate what you do.

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