Colourful ties, fancy watches and flashy rings. Or maybe a new Apple computer, giant Wacom Cintiq tablet and a nice new mirrorless Nikon Z7. Whatever the means, the end goal is always the same; if we look the part and talk the talk we’ll be walking the walk. But I do agree with Gary Vaynerchuk, when he speaks about faking it until we make it. He blatantly says, that the only people we will fool by dressing up and pretending to be the tough guy or gal in any business, is other fakers.
But I’m not proposing to leave all material possessions and status symbolism behind (because then we can go back to living in caves and dreading every sun set for fear of never seeing the day again). No, I love my Mac, and I really enjoy my colourful ties and shirts, even though there are not so many appropriate venues to dress up that much.
It is just the fact that usually when entrepreneurs or business people talk about status, they are describing the added value of objects, the invisible (to the untrained eye) forces at play — when two people meet for the first time and instantly asses who’s the dominant person. And while this kind of presence is build on confidence that comes from everywhere else but the clothes we wear (even though they might help to boost our self-image), I can’t but to have my doubts about how far this line of thought can actually go.
Now, sure you don’t have to have the most expensive clothes, but to have no clothes at all is also not an option. And so is coming to work at McDonald’s wearing your prom dress. Or wearing Nike sweatpants to a job interview (unless your a professional runner, I guess they can). So there is a line, an invisible tripping point, where the amount of status symbolism just isn’t enough, just isn’t right, and people start to notice. And you end up either jobless, or if you went full monty, probably in jail for a day or two.
Now what are we artists to do, when such norms aren’t necessarily applicable to our situation in the same rigorous manner as maybe in other professions. We are supposedly allowed or even encouraged or at least expected to be the quirky ones, the people who do weird things. But while there are many who just put on a show, can other non-artists tell? And do such people, who just like to pretend to be artists, when in reality they are just using the construct of artist to run from some form of pain in their life, make those of us, who crave for a better world, who try hard to build things, that could make others feel a certain way, look more, well, fake?
By no means am I judging or pointing fingers to shun. Art for me, but probably so much more for so many others, is a way to cope and deal with pain, a medium to better understand our condition and who we are. But does faking it for artists work (or not work) as it does for other professions? Or are we playing the dominance game by a different set of rules?