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Money & Art – Part II

A follow up discussion to an ever-present question.

Here’s a link to Part I – Money & Art

Relevant article – Psychology of Money

In the interest of convenience and so we can pick up where we left off, I view the pursuit of truth similar to the pursuit of art and thus not truly compatible with the pursuit of money. The purpose of art and the purpose of money (and thus, the pursuit of) are fundamentally opposed, in my opinion. The purpose of art is to create something beautiful and truthful, that speaks to a reality or existence of the human experience which transcends time.

The main issue I find with monetising creative endeavours is if you take the pursuit of art and the pursuit of money to their respective logical conclusions, you will have to sacrifice the art for the money. So, when you create art for the sake of pursuing money, you’re selling your soul short. However, as I said in my previous article, artists still need to eat.

So, why this new article?

For a long time, maybe even longer, I wanted to revisit the original article and elaborate as well as introduce some new ideas and my own experience a bit more. The three central ideas I’ll focus on in this article will be:

  • Creating vs Consuming

  • Judging the Art vs Judging the Artist

  • Learning how to do it by the rules before transgressing

Let’s start with creating vs consuming. First things that come to my mind are idea generation and balance. Who are in each camp and what should I focus on? Most fall into the latter group of consumers, but artists will regularly be in both camps. Sometimes the best idea can come from a tangent off of someone else’s idea. However, the artist must choose where to put their creativity, effort and hours into each.

It is much easier to consume (the sheer abundance of material out there is overwhelming), but there are pitfalls of too much consuming and not enough creating. I, at times, have been guilty of doing too much of the latter. I can become too focused on viewing, sharing, commenting on others work and not putting enough into my own. There have also been times where I’ve tried to push through and will creativity into being, but this can be viewed akin to trying to put the old square peg in a round hole.

Artists are always on the clock. It may appear we have a luxury of time to create and finish projects, but we have schedules and deadlines like everybody else, just we have piles labelled “unfinished” and “never will finish” (but maybe, but probably won’t). I could do a completely separate article exploring the internal and external source/s of creativity (would you like that?), which is why I haven’t gone into detail about it here, but it’s a truly fascinating deep dive if you have the time. Just consuming will not make you any money, just creating will eventually bleed you dry of art, so what is the optimal partnership? 80-20? 60-40? Haha look at me trying to bring maths into art.

As we move onto judging the art and/or artist, I made a point last week about the rejection of art is basically a rejection of the artist. What this topic expands upon is the judgement of the artist’s thoughts and behaviours in accompaniment to their art, an all-encompassing approach whether the person can be separated from their creations. There has been no shortage of abnormal people being artists, to the point where I almost think it’s required.

“However, at what point is the art acceptable, but the artist is not? Does that then make the art unacceptable?”

Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me” hits differently after the child sex offences doesn’t it? Bill Cosby is no longer “America’s Dad”, and people still watch Harvey Weinstein movies. I still love and dance/sing to Michael Jackson despite the allegations, but that’s because I don’t believe he did it rather than giving him a free pass. I still find Arnold Schwarzenegger praiseworthy despite his extra-marital affair. Vincent Van Gogh cutting off his ear is a little messed up, but he’s still one of the best painters of all time.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t necessarily know where the line is drawn, but it’s somewhere between ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’, and being an immoral degenerate.”

The thing is though, a number of these people end up making millions which as some kind of metric renders the artist acceptable or perhaps excusable is the better word. I’m not sure, it’s a very morally grey area although in some cases I’m sure it’s incredibly black and white.

At the end of “Acceptable Rule Breaking”, I briefly mentioned this notion of mastery by the rules followed by transgression using musicians as an example. It sounds, looks and/or reads horrible when you skip the step of mastering by the rules. People nowadays want to skip playing by the rules before mastering anything and think they're brilliant – wrong, no one wants to hear that shit.

“Mastery by the rules followed by transgression is liberating, just the transgressing is terrible.”

Obviously, we have a counter side to this point which is the snobbery and elitism that has possessed many artistic domains across time. This feeling of being above others, the “high culture” or “high society” determining what is art and what is not. Classical music and abstract art are usually the genres of choice to illustrate such behaviour. Still, Bach is Bach for a reason while others will remain in their Bachyard.

“The Matthew Principle of Economics applies to artistic creation; success begets success, failure begets failure.”

“Art for art’s sake – The struggle against purpose in art is always a struggle against the moralising tendency in art, against the subordination of art to morality.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

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