There are far too many artists who have the notion that, on some level, art and commerce are mutually exclusive…that art and money go together like oil and water.
Firstly, understand that the great majority of this sort of talk is nothing more than sour grapes.
When a creative type suddenly enjoys a level of success, the ones who can’t connect with an audience salve themselves by saying the successful artist must’ve ‘sold out’, and by implication, those who haven’t sold out (or sold anything) are somehow truer and more unsullied by crass commercialism.
Bullpucky. It’s perfectly legitimate to develop one’s gifts and aptitudes to further your existence and to connect with other people…it’s what those gifts are for!
That doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as selling out. Selling out is trying to blatantly ride the coattails of other artists who’ve found success.
Some may disagree, but I contend that:
- The writers who crank out teenage wizard books after Harry Potter hit are selling out.
- The painters who jump on decorative fads are selling out (wolves, southwestern art when you live in Maine, etc)
- The artist who suddenly switches to a ‘popular’ media are selling out (care to guess how many artists have suddenly switched to pencil because of my success, because they think it’s The New Thing?)
- Switching to follow other successful artists ‘thing’ – Kincaid’s light thingy, Redlin’s campfire stuff, Doolittle’s hidden stuff, etc.
You have to understand that the world needs to experience something from YOU.
Copying others stylistically may not be illegal in a copyrighting sense, but it broadcasts to the world that all you have to say is ‘me too’.
There’s more to you than that, isn’t there?
If you’re searching for a thing and haven’t found it yet, don’t despair…I have a secret for you.
Everybody learns by copying others. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
“Wait!! You just said that copying was selling out!!
Which is it: admirable or loathsome?”
Both. It depends on context.
Here’s the thing. Since there’s very little pure creativity in the world, and creativity is really just solving problems, the answer lies in SYNTHESIS.
A little of this and a little of that…that’s the key.
Go on your own search – your own quest – go and find out what moves you. Stop pandering and thinking you have to sell pencil drawings of golf courses just because I do.
Paul McCartney combined Little Richard with baroque stuff from grandma’s house to give us The Beatles. Both had been done before, but he and John rolled up their sleeves and brought their own magic.
Keeping with the musical theme, my style of drumming is an amalgam of Stewart Copeland’s (The Police) phrasing and textures, Neil Peart’s (Rush) knack of building fills around a theme as the song progresses, Rob Bachman’s (BTO) awesome dynamics and hi-hat (drummers will be surprised a this…Copeland’s known as the hi-hat guy) and Doug Clifford’s (CCR) solid groove.
All of that music is pretty different – not one of these bands would be confused with each other, and that’s the point.
I love the pencil work put out by Mike Sibley, Paul Calle, and J.D. Hillberry, and I’ve learned from each of them, but it’s folly to try and copy them. I’ve had to find what I’m about, and so do you.
The vital point is to bring in a select group of influences – don’t get stuck on/fall in love with any on “mentor”; you need to add some more ingredients.
It’s that amalgam of ingredients seasoned with your own perspectives, talents, and aptitudes that create one’s Voice.
If you’re not there yet, then begin your search, like, right now, and begin mixing things around to see what you come up with.
And if I may, might I suggest that you check out The Fast Start Art Marketing Primer?
Check out the Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!
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