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17 March 2007

Yes I KNOW I Wimped Out

30 in 30. Ha! Yes,yes I know. My resolve held for two whole days. I do however, have an excellent excuse. I forgot and then fell asleep. So now we begin again. 30 posts in thirty days starting from yesterday. But enough recriminations.
BakerySL is up and running. Twice artists and arts sympathizers gather around a virtual fire and share our thoughts, argue and dream under virtual stars. We talk about the nature of art, the role of the artist in society, the corrupting and necessary influence of commerce and sometimes we just talk about movies. It's an amazing experience. Health and geography have isolated me from my idealist brethren, at least physically. But technology has made it possible for us to commune 'face to face'. A few nights ago we talked about popular culture and whether mass popularity/mass marketing and artistic integrity were incompatible.
The general consensus was, well, mixed. Some said that art done with the wish to make money was no art at all. Others said that it there was nothing wrong with creating with one eye on marketability as long as one doesn't compromise one's vision.
Truth to tell, my own thoughts on the matter are decidedly mixed. I believe that public opinion is a succubus that can suck creativity from the soul and skew one's view of one's work. Ever notice what happens when an artist becomes really popular? Take as an example, my love-hate-love relationship with the talent of  Leo Di Caprio. He is talent as an actor is undeniable and yet, for a little while, his ego outstripped his talent. After Kate Winslet carried him through Titanic (don't get me wrong, he was good, but no where near as good as the howling estrogen-laden masses seemed to think)he turned in a few performances that were smug,even lazy. 'Everyone' thought he was great, therefore he was  great...full stop. His ability to self-edit, suffered.
Whether an artist becomes famous and begins to bring thoughts of his press clippings into his creative process; or whether she craves more attention than the work is getting and brings that need to be noticed into her process; it hurts the work. Having other people in your head makes it hard to sit down with you and your creative core and say, 'yes this part here, does what I need/want it to do, but this part doesnt.'
Don't get me wrong, an artist needs confidence. The only way to stand before a canvas or sit down before a blank sheet of paper and create anything of worth, is to believe that you can. To in fact, somewhere inside you, have the belief that you are the only one who can communicate a certain, thought or idea or emotion in this specific way. There is plenty of time for doubt and self-hatred--before you sit down or after you stand up.  But in the moment of creation there is none.
On the other hand, a girl's gotta eat. If no one is buying her work she's not eating, or she's working at a sucky day job and painting at night. Or she's cobbling together a few less sucky jobs to support herself and her work. Which eventually begins to suffer. Creative energy is just that, energy. There's only so much of it that can be drained away by nothing jobs (or even a really great non-art job, which in my experience, can have an even greater impact on one's creative energy bank)before the the work starts to suffer.
I don't think one should have to choose between one's art and the ability to make a living. I don't believe one has to. There's a lot of greed at the top which is making life unnecessarily difficult for the artist on the ground. The longer I work on Bakery, the more I'm amazed by the amount of greed involved and the basic unfairness-es under which artists struggle to support themselves.

And that is of course, why I do what I do.

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