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The End Of Art As We Know It

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John Britt/Clay Club blog posted a link to this article. Worth reading and pondering as we try to figure out what we want to call ourselves.



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That was really interesting. I'm considered gen x by about two months, so I tend to identify with both Gen X and Gen Y (or whatever the moniker is now). I'm still a maker I think, and I love the entrepreneurial spirit and accessability to markets that the Internet has fostered in he last 5-7 years. I've thought for a long time now that relying exclusively on the gallery system is simply a non-option for an emerging artist that wants to do things like eat and live indoors, and buy art supplies. With the last recession, any galleries that did survive stopped taking brand spanking new emerging artists, if they took them at all to begin with. So how then, to get your work "out there", in order to move from being an emerging to a mid-career artist and beyond? Of course we have to push the stuff ourselves!!


That said, I believe strongly you still have to do your 10,000 hours, and that quality cannot be sacrificed if you wish to be here for the long haul. And I don't believe for a second I'm the only one.

Growing up, I heard all about how Gen X was just a bunch of lazy, unmotivated, ill-mannered, unprofessional freeloaders that weren't going to ever leave Mom's basement, never mind achieve half what their parents did, etc etc, etc. They were children with no good taste or good judgement. (Sound familiar, Gen Y?)


And then something happened: Gen X got a little bit older. They shifted some ideas, and did things their own way, but they did indeed do lots and lots of things. (And are still doing.) They did it differently than their parents and the ones who came before. They didn't get rid of ideas of quality, they decided other things were valuable than what their parents liked. Some things were discarded, yes, but others were expanded upon. I think Gen Y is in the process of doing their own version of this.


What I notice about the Internet is that community can be found anywhere. Disparate groups of people come together from all over to discuss what ever it is that gets them going. Look at our own geographical spread for goodness sakes! We have people trading weather notes in our status updates from different hemispheres! Last check, we have a variance of about 70 degrees C between points in Canada and Australia. We would never ALL talk to each other face to face outside this forum (and I'll have you know I am not this eloquent in real life!).

Communities are groups of people that come together for a shared purpose of some kind, and hold at least a loose idea that certain things are valuable, while others are not. It is my belief that new standards around art are being formed around how we judge good from bad as we speak. In fact, I'll go a little further, and say there are probably several conversations going on right now that disagree strongly with each other. Art will not be judged by populist vote alone. Camps are emerging, and people will join different ones as they see fit for all the reasons that anyone ever decides anything; they have feelings and opinions. Standards will be (and are currently) applied to art, and more than one community will be applying their different sets of standards to any one piece/style/movement with sufficient exposure.

This is by no means a new concept. People have said that art is dead before. I notice we're all still here.

(at least we are if I haven't scared you all off with the length of this post.)

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Very interesting read.   Thanks for sharing.   But I disagree that art is dead.   I see that art is simply expanded to include the "Creative Entrepreneur".     Thank you for sharing this because I now clearly see where I fit in ... I'm a creative entrepreneur.


There will continue to be clay artists.     And artists in other media as well.  What I see is that handicrafts have bolstered the cottage industry.    With social media you are able to reach customers  .... without being in a guild ... without applying to and be accepted by a jury board.   You don't have to pass the "artist certification".  The customer is your jury.  


Embrace this opportunity.   If you can create what the customer will buy, there are no boundaries between you and the customers now.   You can look and see how many artists have fallen short of "success" in previous years.    Now,  you can be mediocre, by professional standards, and be a commercial success.    This will give more opportunities.   The advantages of be a creative clay entrepreneur are many.   Primarily in terms of capital investment and retail markup.    And you have complete control of your product.   Tremendous advantage over specialty retailers that just buy and resale.  


And the creative entrepreneur has not taken the place of the artist.   As it has always been, art is an extremely competitive field.  And only the best will make it as a true artist.   Falling back to my academia years, "A students will be the artists, B students the teachers and C students the creative entrepreneurs"?

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Guest JBaymore

Our old academic dean used to address the incoming freshmen class with a "wake up call".  In short and highly paraphrased he said "The A students we will be reading about in the art news magazines and seeing in the major shows and galleries, the B students we will see working some other job full time and doing their own artwork as a side line and showing in local venues and craft fairs, and the C students will be driving a truck."


Hard way to start them off........ but it is the reality of the situation.


And if the customer is the art/aesthetic yardstick we use... then Disney is king in visuals, music, and movies. :rolleyes:






PS:  bciskepottery........ thanks for sticking that song line in my head ....over and over and over and over and over..........

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The world is changing, not just Art.  Education is changing, business is changing, the way we communicate is changing.  Art has to adapt, or be lost.  But Art has always adapted, so to me, it's not the end of "Art as We Know it".  Because that has always been the nature of Art.


The internet allows artists to communicate, like never before.  I would have never been able to talk to you fine folks, without this fabulous connected series of tubes.  And think of the expanded markets that potters have, by selling through a webpage/ site.


The article mentioned how the comedian Louis C.K. digitally made available, his stand up shows.  He is not alone, there are numerous musicians, who have done the same thing.  Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, etc have made their albums available online, for free.  Some artists do this, because their art is the important thing, not making money on it.  Of course, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, have plenty of money, from decades of selling albums and touring.  However, those fiscally knowledgeable musicians/ comedians know that album sales don't account for much of their income.  The record company gets a  lot of that.  It's the concerts/ shows that bring in the big money.  A twelve dollar album isn't much, compared to a sixty dollar (or more) ticket.  Then, there is the merchandise at the show, etc, etc.


Visual artists have a tough time matching that change, and it's one area of this digital move, that is tough to adapt to.  If you are a two-dimensional artist, and you post your work online, it will get stolen, regardless of how well you try and prevent it.  Internet users are so numb to the content available within the milliseconds they type it into Google, that they feel that anything that shows up, is fair game.  If that said anything is a thumbnail from an artist's site, who cares?  That image will get reposted, copied, pasted, to near infinity.  No money comes in to the artist, and in many cases, they get zero credit.  That's one reason that I will continue to play the role of "Fun Hater", in my classroom, and not let copyrighted work, of any level, be used.  My students can be inspired by preexisting work, but they are never to straight up copy it.

Three-dimensional artist have it a little bit better.  People on the internet can copy photos, of their work, all day long, but it won't give them the real thing.  If you find a mug or vase, that you really like, you have to choices; contact the artist and purchase one, or try and replicate it.  The former is quick and clean, the latter takes time, know how, and considerable resources.


So I think the biggest change, that artists need to be aware of, is how much of our work we put out there, and how we protect it.  Sign and date everything, watermark the hell out of online photos etc.  

Those recordings that some comedians are doing, that I refereed to earlier, have benefited said comedians.  I have heard numerous stories, of a comedian, who had a joke stolen.  Luckily, they have a record of, when they told it.  The "joke thief" usually gets a lot of flak, for such an offense.

Sometimes things don't end quite as well, especially if you are dealing with a large enough of an entity.  For instance a musician named Jonathan Coultan did a cover of "Baby Got Back".  Not his original song, but he made it acoustic, changed the arrangement, etc.  Years later, that exact version shows up on Fox's TV show "Glee".  Jonathan Coultan received zero credit.  When he kindly pointed out the fact, that it was his version of the song, Fox basically said, "You should just be happy that we are getting you this much exposure."  Once again, they didn't credit him, so had he not said anything, no one would have knew that the "Glee" producers didn't come up with it themselves.  Kind of ironic, considering the show is based around the talented, less popular Glee group, getting harassed or ignored by the popular kids.

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