I recently read an article in The Atlantic titled, Death of the Artist – Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur. This article argues that the artist as a solitary ‘genius,’ slaving over their work to eventually create something worthy of the label ‘masterpiece,’ is dead. Or at the least, outdated. Instead we have come to a place where successful creative people are harnessing their creativity not into masterpieces, but into the evolution of some kind of enterprise.
I began strongly agreeing with author Deresiewicz’s ideas about the end of the ‘genius’ artist and assumed he would come to the conclusion that modern artists as people who are adept in many disciplines. However as Deresiewicz talked about art becoming institutionalized and thinking of creation as a business I found myself a little worried. The buzz words of business and corporation are still so ingrained in my mind as something separate from this archaic artist ideal that is apparently still kicking around in my head. However I look at the training I am receiving and remind myself that self generating work isn’t wrong or devoid of artistic value. In fact, it is opening pathways for creative to flourish.
I believe strongly in the total artist. Coming from a theatre background my lens to seeing myself as a total artist is through the desire to embrace every aspect of the theatre world. I want to be working with people who can and want to collaborate and help out wherever they can. I don’t think this has to stop at theatre, but visual art or music or coding and whatever other skill set or creative outlet one can find. I hear time and time again, you have to make your own work. Young artists can’t be sitting around for opportunities to fall into their lap. Our world moves fast. To be engaging in the now as an artist, one has to self advocate and work to continually explore ways to work and exercise artistic expression.
Nowadays with self publishing and youtube and our good friend the internet, can everyone be “a creative,” sure. Will everyone be successful? Will everyone last? Probably not. But more creative energy can only be a good thing.
Deresiewicz claims that capital A Art my die off in favor of a world of creators. Here is where I differ slightly. I don’t think we have to give up Art. Yes, it is changing. Yes, we are becoming creators. Yes, interdisciplinary artistic work may seem to produce less deep work within a specific discipline, but I don’t think we’ve morphed from a deep well of ‘great work’ to a new stagnant way of creating. I feel like we are at the transition. The moment before the sun sinks before the horizon. It’s beautiful and it is safe and we are thriving and learning in this sunset. But when we come out on the other side we will indeed be looking at things in a whole new light. That instead of a single painting or play that is written out of blood, sweat and years of one’s life, instead old world Artists, instead of creative entrepreneurs we will find our storytellers.
Those amazing individuals who can craft beautiful and moving stories will continue to do so. That they will have the skill set of quite literally the world at their fingertips and be the ones creating the art of our ties. The introduction of technology and the age of social media have got us scrambling, “How do we keep our work fresh? How do we use these new platforms? Is this thing on?” and we have to remember, we’re still just toddlers. We may not be dedicating all our time to a single craft, but the time will come when mixed media will have it’s own 10,000 hours of mastership. It’s those who dedicate themselves not to the form but to the story last. We have the beginnings of a new form and our storytellers are looking at the world and just beginning to grow up. Lets take what new toys we have been given and start to play.