The six legitimate reasons to make art
Do it for yourself and the fans will follow.
A factor in the decline of decent art was recently dragged onto center stage by the New York Times in an article called "Brooklyn Communal Cool: The Brand." The piece, authored by a person who spells "mic" like "mike," focuses on a communal-living quarters in Brooklyn called the Clubhouse and its ties to a "new media" company called BKLYN1834. And if you couldn't guess by the fact that somebody started a company without any vowels, it's a bunch of bullshit.
Here's a choice quote that basically sums up the article:
"For our generation of artists, we realize that we are each our own brand, but not everyone knows how to manage this," Mr. Reid said. "Our business is to equip artists with these tools, which feels like a natural, organic progression of what we already do at the Clubhouse."
Amid the swirl of eye-rolls associated with the fraud and fakery of "indie" pop-art and its interaction in a new-media marketplace, we'd like to present to you the six legitimate reasons to make art. (Hint: it has nothing to do with "branding" and everything to do with this Bill Hicks clip.
6. For Yourself
When something is important to you it shows. The effect of being in love with what you're doing is that you become magnetic -- people will marvel at you as you achieve the unthinkable in our society by being comfortable with yourself. It's such a dumb concept that it sounds like a social manipulation technique in one of those pickup artist books. Yes, there will always be some guy in a furry hat who will attract the vapid and easily misled, but the rest of the world wants legitimacy.
Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
5. For Yourself
When you watch a guitarist kick his pedal-board across the stage or someone throws a fit because another person in the band missed a cue, they're not upset because of their personal commitment to creation. They're pissed because someone made them "look bad" in front of other people. In this particular example, they're serving themselves through the perceptions of others and thus, not truly doing it for themselves. In the words of many a great Internet meme, you're doing it wrong.
4. For Yourself
You know who caused the Holocaust? A person. You know who abducted young men around the Milwaukee area and drilled holes in their heads because they had intense abandonment issues? A person. You know who leaves racist comments on YouTube videos? A person. People are generally a bunch of messed up idiots. Disregard them whenever you are creating something.
3. For Yourself
Success is fleeting, and people will forget about you. By the time you realize you enjoyed this article, you will forget it as you grow excited about the cheesesteak you're going to eat in an hour. After you forget about the cheesesteak you just ate, you will buy some shoes on the Internet. Later, you will go to sleep and your brain will rearrange all of your experiences, feelings and memories into a logical order. You will wake up and spend the rest of the day concerned with buying wool socks.
Do things so you can remember them, not so others can remember you. Dance like no one is watching. Sell drugs like you don't need the money.
2. For Yourself
Getting admirers, accumulating wealth -- the worship of yourself. You will never have enough to quell the persistent ache just below your heart and above your belly. The great philosopher Louis CK once talked about an emptiness - -a spiritual black hole that we are all trying to fill. Whether this is innate to us as sentient beings in a wealthy nation or something that is reinforced through the media, it doesn't matter at this point. We all have it. In creating art, you can deeply probe your soul in a search for understanding of your place in the world.
Or you can use it to try to convince people that you're somehow better and less rotten, less stinking and not overflowing with guilt and regret. Maybe someone will believe you. But it won't matter.
1. For Yourself
There are people out there who will never be able to produce art for themselves. They are busy providing things like food and water to their families. They will never have the freedom or the luxury to create a stupid synthesizer song that makes them and their friends giggle. Wasting your ability to make art for yourself is an insult to every sixteen-hour-a-day worker with fingertips burnt from soldering your electronics. Don't be a dick.
Follow Drew Ailes on Twitter at @CountBakula.