I had an interesting conversation on Facebook the other day about the struggle we artists tend to go through because of the nature of our work.
Nothing to do with having to be sad and crazy to make art (a dumb myth if I ever heard one), but about the divide between the upper echelon of art consumption that is the auction market and the low end of our world, the regular Joes and Jolenes, that are selling their art on Etsy or Saatchi Art.
The issue that was brought up was by Rachél, an admin of one of the many wonderful art groups on Facebook, and concerned itself with the fact that many artists who produce more genuine and maybe less saleable work, if and when they get to a point where they become famous or successful, loose touch with the regular folks that supported them in the beginning.
“If you do graduate to the creme de la creme of the art worlds, you will usually become isolated from the populace, focusing either on museum work, advertising or big collectors. Some artists do street art to try to counter this reality.”
And it made me think about all the people, regardless of profession, that just went bonkers after making it in their field; exchanging their “boring” “looser” friends for nice new designer ones, getting a nice car, nice house and just starting to post expensive garbage on their social media.
But at the same time, I know a lot more people who are quite successful in their careers and lives in general that don’t flash their riches in everybody’s face all of the time. Most of them just work, live and try to enjoy life and have a happy family. Even though they might have a Jaguar in their garage — it doesn’t automatically make them posh twats.
While I do believe there’s a place for everyone — the flashy in-your-face people and the humble, hard workers — if I tie this back to our world of art, we can see the same two kinds of characters roaming the plains.
Some really like to work in a gallery and are born sales people and also really like art; they like to constantly show everybody how nice their workplace is, how rich and cool the customers are and just how fabulous their new exhibition is going to be.
Others just make art and enjoy the process of it and are grateful to be able to do what they do rather than work some unfulfilling desk job.
Still others don’t want anything to do with the system and go underground and live in rundown apartments, relentlessly building the opposition the the oppressive mind control of capitalist society.
It’s just how we see ourselves in the world.
I myself sold to millionaires and to people who were just getting by and can’t say either was that different when it came to why they bought my art. They liked it and they were fun and happy people who enjoyed life by their own standards and — because of being so content with everything — they knew how to appreciate what I had made and shown to them.
I do think the story of the twenty something millionaire is poisoning the well of society and just creating a bigger divide between the people on both sides of the socio-economic equation.
Some actually like and enjoy villas and fast cars and aren’t dicks to society. It depends on the character of a person, not their social status.
It’s like being drunk; you don’t just magically transform from a nice person into a bad one by having a few shots of Jägermeister. All the alcohol does is shine a light on the anger and despair that was there all along. It’s the same with money and power. But many people don’t change, many are decent and just do their thing regardless how drunk, rich or famous they get.
Obviously we hear a lot about the Trumps of our society, but there’s a lot of good people in the higher echelons of the arts and in our society in general. The problem is finding them, because they often tend to enjoy their silence and rarely ever brag about their accomplishments.
But I believe — if we do the right things, if we work hard and don’t lie to ourselves and to others about who and what we are — we’ll eventually get to meet such people. It may be we already know many of them, but because we’re flashing our new iPhones and talking garbage, they just never really opened up to us.
But they could, if we only started being true to ourselves.