I came across an interesting article in The Atlantic today which addresses the current cultural shift towards “creatives” instead of “artists.” Art as an industry has always been defined through the money-making apparatus attached. From craftsmen and artisans to renaissance geniuses; art changes along with society. But where has the artist ended up?
This article argues that the rise of the internet and the ability to self-promote online has resulted in the “Death of the Artist and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur.” The industry has migrated online, appealing directly to potential customers.
“The push of institutional disintegration has coincided with the pull of new technology. The emerging culture of creative entrepreneurship predates the Web—its roots go back to the 1960s—but the Web has brought it an unprecedented salience. The Internet enables you to promote, sell, and deliver directly to the user, and to do so in ways that allow you to compete with corporations and institutions, which previously had a virtual monopoly on marketing and distribution. You can reach potential customers at a speed and on a scale that would have been unthinkable when pretty much the only means were word of mouth, the alternative press, and stapling handbills to telephone poles.”
There seems to be a lot of building going on: you’re supposed to build your brand, your network, your social-media presence. Creative entrepreneurship is spawning its own institutional structure—online marketplaces, self-publishing platforms, nonprofit incubators, collaborative spaces—but the fundamental relationship remains creator-to-customer, with creators handling or superintending every aspect of the transaction.”
The internet has democratized countless other industries. So why not art? But the shift from artist to creative is one that merits special attention. I find that the most successful artists online are choosing to label themselves differently. They are stylists, illustrators, designers, creative directors, graphic designers, art directors, creative content creators, makers, photographers, or some complex combination of three or more of these titles. And they are running their art like a business.
So what will all this mean for artists and for art? For training, for practice, for the shape of the artistic career, for the nature of the artistic community, for the way that artists see themselves and are seen by the public, for the standards by which art is judged and the terms by which it is defined?”
Seriously, go read this article. It’s interesting.