One thing I’ve noticed in a few art documentaries over the past year is that some of today’s successful artists don’t physically create art themselves. They have “assistants” who do the hands-on work while the artist comes up with the concept. Now if I could only find a factory full of people (and equipment) to create my ideas for me – I’d have a much bigger chance of success. I could create a few ideas that were too big for me to achieve with my limited practical skills.
Thinking about this brought to mind the music situation in the early 70s where rock music was becoming bigger (not necessarily better) and musicians needed the population of a medium sized city just to set up their equipment for a concert.
The reaction against that extravagance was punk – where kids of little talent bashed on guitars and strummed on drums, trying to be musicians. It became a popular movement among equally talentless but enthusiastic kids who found they had more in common with Johnny Rotten than they had with bands playing intricate, hour-long guitar solos and singing esoteric lyrics.
While Punk couldn’t avoid exploitative elements, it did open up a means for everyday people (mostly in their teens and twenties) to have a go. They didn’t need to become accomplished musicians first; they used what they had, even if it wasn’t much. No need for expensive equipment or hoards of “assistants” to do the hard work for them.
They were a reaction to the musical dinosaurs so distant from their reality. The ironic thing is that some of the ongoing successes who came out of the simplicity of punk, went on to become “rock dinosaurs” themselves – performing in stadium concerts, supported by expensive equipment and armies of staff…
But back to “ART” – Where is the genuine article and who is the genuine artist? Is art all about ideas and having significant financial resources to bring the ideas to physical reality? Is the artist the idea’s person or is it the one who actually brings the work to life? Should art be attributed to the name signing it? Or maybe to the one able to afford the hiring of craftspeople to create it? *
Or is art something more personal, something struggled and sweated over by someone needing to overcome the odds to bring their ideas to life? Would my own paintings be more art-worthy if I paid a talented painter to create a technically perfect version of my intended ideas, instead of struggling to create something myself that hopefully comes close to what I wanted to paint?
While Punk may have had its musical day, maybe the freedom it gave people to have a go is something that should be reawakened. No need for the nastiness and offensiveness or even the anger that accompanied the 70s fad. “Nice” emotions and attitudes have their place too.
We don’t need huge studios equipped like factories; we don’t need to employ people to do the work for us. We don’t need to raise finances to pay for that kind of extravagance. Just pick up paper and pencil or a paintbrush and paint and start making your OWN marks, expressing something yourself.
And another important question: who deserves the credit (and the payment) when an artwork is sold?