The Amateurs vs learning about Picasso

"In my opinion, though, it's more important that someone learn to make music, draw, photograph, write, or create in any form, regardless of the quality, than it is for them to understand and appreciate Picasso, Warhol, or Bill Shakespeare..." 

David Byrne writes the above quote in the fantastic thought piece, HOW MUSIC WORKS. Here, he talks about the need of amateurs to keep the arts vibrant, and more importantly, to bond a self healing glue for societies, with an emphasis on the disadvantaged.

At a certain point in the American industrialized education system, we abandoned the active creative arts, for art history.

The powers that be thought it more wise (and certainly less expensive) to teach an understanding of mostly Western Classical Art, than to let children create. Funding for arts programs plummeted all through the country in the last decade. 

But the creative act itself is the most vital. Art history and criticism is more the perpetuation of an elitist system created to worship monuments, over intuition.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've worshipped some of those masters works myself, but I would advocate for less worship, and more encouragement to the youth, who are seeking ways to figure out problems.

One of the best vehicles human beings "created" for problem solving, is art. And the evidence is clear that problem solving skills is an extremely desirable trait in industry now. So, if you want to give a gift to a child and an advantage, a nice pat on the back and a Beat Machine can go a long way.


The "BEST OF" lie....

A NEW YEAR comes, and with that a faux clean plate. But just before the dial switch, we were all inundated by a seemingly never ending orgy of "best of" lists.

Chalked with hyperbole and irreverence; blogs, twitter, magazines and online media outlets who endow themselves with "tastemaker" monikers espoused the loves of the year. 

Most of these lists where "best of" lists, and not the more truthful, "favorites" list. A big difference in meaning. 

Now, a best of list of athletes is probably measurable. And so is a host of other things in which quantifying makes sense. But in the arts, the only true purpose these lists  holds is consumerism or elitism.

Because, "best" is nonsensical in arts. Unless you specify it, and in that specification, it is quantifiable it is meaningless.

If best meant theatrical sales, than you have a measure. If best is "rotten tomatoes" ratings, then you have a measure.

If best is personal, than its favorite. And that's what it all comes down to. Of course, none of us has the time to view 30,000 productions, so, we watch the most accessible or ones that have been picked out. 

Best in the arts does serve a purpose. Award shows, to bring in more business. Or, helping individual careers to obtain more opportunities because of a certain popularity that comes with providing more value than the average. That's it. Nothing more. You cannot quantify the ephemeral, until you actually can.

Pick Yourself

There is a line, oft repeated in Seth Godin's newest book, "The Icarus Deception" in which he simply states, "pick yourself".  This is a profound thought, and in the simplest language possible.  

Here, he is referring to people who are waiting for a chance in the sun (but instead, can choose themselves).  People who wait for some authority to point them out, to lift them up and place them square into the X at the end of the rainbow.  Problem is, this is the worst type of game, with the worst type of odds.

Now, Seth comes from a marketing background.  He understands the world of business, entrepreneurship, marketing, etc.  But he tries to bridge the gap to the arts.  In many ways, he succeeds.  But, in his fury of words, the actualities and nuances get swept under the rug.  

For example, while you can DIY anything, the cost of traditional narrative movie making is very high.  Even the tiniest budgets rival the seed money for a new start-up.  And while you might not be promised a return, the business world is pretty straightforward.

With that said, his phrase, "pick yourself" still works.  Because, if you don't, your not living in todays world. You're looking at industries and systems of the past, and for the arts, this is especially the case.  

Even with the high cost of movie making,  when you "pick yourself", you have a sense of control, and a vision for tomorrow.  This of course means that some compromises might have to be made.  

But, the numbers tell the truth (at least for now).  Movie making that you remember from your childhood, will not be the same business in a couple years, then it was for the last 50 years.  It is hardly any different from the record business.    

Shit has flipped, and hard.  So, pick up the camera, or remix what's already available.  Or simply, write your dreams down.  That way, you are on the start of the journey of picking yourself.  A place exists for everybody who tries.