Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Artists and audiences

Here's a thought:
If an artist wants to be commercially successful, he has to learn to take the viewpoint of an audience.

For example, to a painter, a painting may be an experiment in lines and shapes. But to his customers, a painting is decoration for the home.

If he forgets his own viewpoint, he may become rich, but may also become unhappy because he feels he has never fully used his power. If he never remembers the audience's viewpoint, he may become self-satisfied, but poor and unhappy because almost nobody "understands him".

If he can successfully combine the two viewpoints, that's a great start.


Anonymous said...

Eolake: "If an artist wants to be commercially successful, he has to learn to take the viewpoint of an audience."

This is a difficult subject.

I agree that to meet commercial success, the subjective and objective need to merge. But I would caution about interpreting this so that some form of 'compromise' is needed (not that this is what Eolake implied).

Often the "misunderstood artist" does not understand their self very well either.
On the other hand, there are countless examples of the most weirdest creations becoming highly sought after for people's living rooms. Think Warholl's Soup Cans, for example.

I think a crucial element is authenticity.

How to become authentic?

One approach is to create so much that you can't help but discover your authentic voice (this worked for Salvador DalĂ­.)

Another approach is to create less but listen to yourself more, i.e. live more like a Zen monk (Leonard Cohen wrote perhaps his best album using this method.)

Anonymous said...

An interest in the mainstream helps one see what is appreciated by the many. In our fragmented niche world, a thing that a lot of diverse people can enjoy is quite rare and worthy of contemplation. :)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

A refreshing viewpoint.

Too many intellectuals have a disdain for mainstream things. For example, the TV show Friends was inordinately excellent, but because it was also so popular, some people can't enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how being mainstream or non-mainstream is automatically a qualifier for quality or lack thereof. It's about like judging a fruit before you've stripped it of its peel. There's a lot of shitty stuff that comes from both fields and you would think we'd judge things on an individual basis as opposed to how popular it is. I can hardly believe anyone who differs from that view would call themselves intellectual. Then again, intellectualism is, like many other things, more about image than anything else. (In this case, reason.)

Anonymous said...

Mainstream means there's a lot of the same (or similar). For this reason, mainstream appeals to those who value comfort and safety over discovery.

Novel ideas, on the other hand, must by definition have some element of 'unacceptability' and 'unsafety' in them. For anything that's truely novel must in some way step out of our comfort zones.

For example, here's my YouTube clip of today. It is a harmless piece, but there is one element of 'unacceptability' in it (having to do with the concept of food) that has already caused the puritanists among us to complain. There's also a bit of drama and a bit of humor. But what makes this different from previous works in the same genre is that one 'unacceptable' element.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"Novel ideas, on the other hand, must by definition have some element of 'unacceptability' and 'unsafety' in them."

Yes. Or they may simple be too unfamiliar for the general public.

Anonymous said...

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.” — Stephen King, On Writing

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

(Reminds me I never finished that book.)

Actually I'm not sure I agree. Some people (Heinlein for example) were very successful *because* they were light-hearted about writing.
And many others never can finish what they write because they take it too seriously.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

So, is this blog a work of art with feedback from the participating audience?

"Some people (Heinlein for example) were very successful *because* they were light-hearted about writing."

I *ALWAYS* take light-heartedness very seriously. It's like a religion to me. Same with humour.
Having fun is the most serious thing one can do in their life.

What was it that Voltaire said? "God is a comic playing to an audience that's afraid to laugh."
Laughter is the most sincere form of prayer to the joy of life and existence. And Jesus was a fun-loving guy. The first bit of "work" he ever did was making wine for a wedding to keep it merry. (And very fine wine too, from what I heard.)

Amen, yo!