Which are you, an ARTIST or an artist?
An ARTIST is one whose art is intellectually driven, high-brow stuff that may or may not be socially or politically conscious, but aims to ‘speak’ to people of means and substance, while ‘artists’ have none of those ambitions, content to do work through which they hope to portray something that they’ve noticed about the world around them. This does not mean that the work of ‘artists’ is devoid of intellectual substance. And it does not mean that the high-brow stuff is full of wisdom and beauty. I think that the money confuses things a lot. What do you think of Banksy? In that linked article the artist (yes, I think of him that way) is quoted as follows:
“There’s a whole new audience out there, and it’s never been easier to sell [one’s art],” Banksy has maintained. “You don’t have to go to college, drag ’round a portfolio, mail off transparencies to snooty galleries or sleep with someone powerful, all you need now is a few ideas and a broadband connection. This is the first time the essentially bourgeois world of art has belonged to the people. We need to make it count.”
Okay, I can understand that. It’s my thing too, taking my stories directly to the people, with my few ideas and my broadband connection. I don’t need to submit to publishers, beg agents to read my work, and wait around a few years while they think about it. Meanwhile, they’re making money with the few they chose, and really don’t need to consider new work. And that’s fine, now that I can take my work directly to the readers and let them decide on its merit.
So is what I do art?
To be truthful, that’s not even a question for me any longer. Of course it’s art, the art of the story-teller. Every story I tell holds within it a set of ideas that correspond to a particular world view. For example, Dagger is an adventure story, a kind of Harry-Potterish tale in which the young protagonist must defeat a powerful, evil enemy to save the world. Pure fantasy. Yet the world revealed by the gaze of our young hero is full of political corruption and socio-economic problems. And the Carnival celebrations that form the backdrop is shown to be devolving away from its historical roots in African slavery. I have also tried to ask more profound questions about religion and spirituality.
How successful was I? This ‘artist’ awaits an answer from his proletarian audience.