The First Problem

Here’s the problem… Many things that are good for society are bad for the culture. I know you’re not allowed to say that, but I am not connected to any powerful institution. So, I don’t really care. This is the upside to being old, too. I don’t care. You don’t like me. I don’t care. I don’t even know you… So, I would say that… having every single person on the planet earth think they can become an artist is a ridiculous thing. Because it is not true. It is not true that every person is an artist. It is true that every person can think they’re an artist. I don’t really care what other people think. But there’s such a thing – this the thing you’re never allowed to say now – is that the reason that someone’s good is because they’re talented. Because the thing that has not changed is the American idea that talent is something that you never discuss. You never discuss it because it is the thing that you can not attain. You can not get it by working hard. You can not buy it. You can not learn it. This is why I have a particular distaste for the idea of “writing school.” You just can’t learn these things. I mean you can learn craftsman like things, but you can’t learn to be really good. You just can’t. I’m sure that you’re all very annoyed by this, but, you know, I don’t care. [Fran Lebowitz – The Power of the Artist – David Zwirner Gallery Culture Talk]

Don’t be reined in by other people’s definitions of skill or beauty or be boxed in by what is supposedly high or low. Don’t stay in your own lane. Drawing within the lines is for babies; making things add up and be right is for accountants. Proficiency and dexterity are only as good as what you do with them. But also remember that just because it’s your story, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to an audience. You have to earn that. Don’t try to do it with a big single project. Take baby steps. And be happy with baby steps. [Jerry Saltz on Being an Artist]

“Beeching explained that when someone writes in a journal, it is intended for self-reflection. It is a space to excavate your own soul–not to shape your soul’s song with the intention of pleasing the listener. This, right here, is the grey area between being an artist and being creative. There are artists who create for a specific type of listener, and there are creatives who write, design, and build from their heart (not their head). The extreme ends of the spectrum, then, would be the artists who clean up that journal and publish it as a novel, or the creatives who design and build for no other reason than to solve a problem in the market–personal self expression is the last thing on their mind.
Which then leads us to the spectrum as a whole, and where we draw the line determining what is worth being called “art” and/or “creative thinking” at all. Some people argue that paint spilled on a sidewalk is art, or that making a quote graphic on your phone makes you creative. How do we decide who deserves those titles? What is the benchmark for “success” and what warrants calling yourself an artist or a creative in the first place? Is effort alone enough?“[Nicholas Cole on artists]

“I can think of about 500 architects who have never built a building. I know a lot of artists who have never shown any art – what the fuck is that about? My rule is: You have to have done something before you can be said to have done something. The title of artist or architect or musician needs to somehow be earned. A lot of these 25 women [from Dave’s excellent book] are like that. They did a lot and felt privileged to do it. Felt no hesitation. Just running through the art world there are people who do things and people who don’t.” [Dave Hickey in conversation with Peter Nowogrodzki]

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