Being Famous vs. Introspective Exploration through Art

One of the most rampant thing in our modern culture is getting famous. We are all – yes, myself included – posting photographs on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. with high hopes that somebody will see what we’re doing and suddenly it will spark an infinite amount of interest and fan-dom, catapulting our fame into the stratosphere [insert adoring fans cheering here].

Sure, it could happen.

You may not be doing it for the exact reason of becoming famous, justifying it for another reason, but pop culture – culture in general – is all about look at me, be like me, and pay me.

I want to make a point... to point out that whether it does happen or not, I still believe in you.

Now the real business.

Since the beginning of time, art has been subject to critics in patrons, clergy, curators, reviewers, and gallery goers. Art and criticism (good, helpful, or bad) go hand in hand. That’s the whole essence of it. The allure of it. Creation, presentation, selling, and glory. A good review sparks interest. A bad review kills careers. Exactly how important each of the four steps in the success of art vary [are defined differently] by artist, which depending invokes some of the most harshest criticism abound.

Take for example the [semi] popular documentary made by the anti-pop street artist Banksy in [confusing and gray area here] collaboration with pop-up insta-fame artist Mr. Brainwash. And no, that doesn’t mean Instagram famous. Though this documentary seems to have been a turning point for Banksy, pushing him into the pop world, Mr. Brainwash made no qualms about the fact that he was making art to sell and get glory/fame. He did this all through the hyper focus on presentation and marketing. He did a brilliant job of it [as shown in the documentary, he hired and paid artists to create his ideas, and then sold it as his own work putting minor tweaks on the artwork himself sometimes], but because of his method most street artist will curse his name and refuse to talk any more about him.

Banksy, on the other hand, came from a background of creating art in a public space with no direct way to market his creations [given that they were on public buildings], though his popularity is in no small way related to his work being in public. They say that he doesn’t receive any royalties from any of the oodles of street vendors selling Banksy’s art on t-shirts, posters, hats, you name it. Banksy has capitalized on this popularity though (unconfirmed how much he actually does profit from his art) through many, like shifting into sell-able items like canvases or prints.

Banksy Street Art

Banksy’s transition has seen a lot of criticism and is really a tender area for a lot of people. One of those conversations that’s been beaten around the bush by too many people and nobody can come to an understanding without long amounts of introspective thoughts because it does push the boundaries of selling out and just doing art. Fame always comes with the words sell-out.

But what is art? Doesn’t the very nature of art mean that everybody defines it differently? Affirming this means we must all respect how each and every artist values each part of the steps to success of art [creation, presentation, selling, and glory] more or less.

The word has always been that the true artists creates art because it’s art that needs to come out from inside. It’s not catered to a [target] market, the palette is not selected based on statistics for art sales, the piece is not referred to as a product [as in millions of the prints are not for sale], etc..

I have always argued that this distinction is less physical, and much more mental.

This debate within myself has always been present, but last night, as I was sitting down to paint, I had a feeling of obligation that I felt was instigated by a schedule to produce, rather than having a desire and need for expression. What for? Why was I forcing myself to sit down and finish off the pieces I’ve been working on? Why didn’t I meditate until the desire spoke to me and I did that desire, not the at large task.

[If you’re interested in a more in depth discussion with myself about what art means to me, I wrote a blog with more detail.]

I believe it’s always a mind game. It’s always introspection, awareness, acknowledgement, will power, inner dialog. Art comes as a result of this. As an expression of this. Even as a desire for this. The pictoral purging of my soul [if I must glorify it!].

With this in mind, I feel that as long as the different intentions are identified, as long as we’re aware that we’re trying to shift our creative outlet to create a more alluring product, then we have the capacity to still create art. I firmly believe that it is the mark of a true artist who takes all inputs into consideration when creating art. The best dancers use their stage fully. The best singers explore and expand their vocal capabilities, and amplify persona. The true artist creates more than with oil paint and a find bristled brush.

I believe that what should be avoided is ignoring the fact that we are making a transaction with the Devil, so as not to be deceived. Perhaps this is why [pushy] agents or [critical] curators – or even critics for that matter – are considered the enemy and create such a love/hate relationship with the artist. We love them because they sell our art, but we hate them because they’re telling us what to do.

[aside: I guess if we hate them, that means we’re aware we’re in a transaction with the Devil]

It’s up to us, the artists, to be aware of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and who we’re doing it for. Don’t lie. Be proud of it. Artists must be proud or else we do not have a full release of our expression; or else we are not living to our fullest potential.

If you’re making art to try and get more sales, if you’re making your art into your business, take the necessary steps to make it a business, analyze your business. Financially analyze that shit man! Is it worth it what you’re trying to do or are you just feeding your illusion?

What I’ve come to understand is that with the advent of the internet, with being able to share absolutely everything instantly with anybody who’s willing to listen, we’re also following blindly somebodies [who? I have no idea who wrote the formula] formula that defines how to get success. Perhaps we are led by example, perhaps we are hoping to ride some coattails… Perhaps we’re just not really sure why we’re doing what we’re doing and are going about things rather listlessly..

This is your choice. This is your purpose. This is your time and dedication.

My advice?

Don’t half ass it. Get on your pony and gallop, and don’t stop until you’re a sweaty mess of expression, desire, and satisfaction.

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