It’s no secret that society as a whole tends to put too much value on the lowest common denominator. It’s just easier that way. Everything from the largest brand names to the most obnoxious TV personalities, to the rest of the loud, loud world. As a species, we seek comfort and that is found in the simplest of targets. If 50+ million vote for a candidate, well then, there must be something to them, right?. Unfortunately the populist opinion-machine backfires a lot and sends people hurdling over the edges of innumerable cliffs—all because some other folks jumped off of it first (where have we heard this before?). The concept that something or someone that is rich, powerful or popular because of integrous qualities such as, well, talent… it’s a silly one.
No? Suffer through an Avril Lavigne album on repeat for a night while imagining millions of others doing the same thing. The thought alone can give you an ulcer, or drive you to shave your neighbors cat and launch it through the nearest Taco Bell drive-thru window.
I could yammer on about this day and night, but the point here is one of art. Lurking in the art scenes, I have as a poet and a painter, heard the whiningest of whines a zillion times. “She only sells work because it’s floral landscape $@%!” or “People are stupid and only buy that accessible garbage” are common themes. Surely there’s nothing particularly false about those statements, but are they necessary to make? No siree. There’s no real function in echoing something obvious that everyone already knows, especially when there’s nothing you can do about it—and in the end, it doesn’t actually affect you. The creeping bore that clings to the spines of most folks says no more about the merit of your artwork than a sale does. Take it from an abstract expressionist who has sold thousands of dollars worth of painted work in galleries, but can’t move work in a yard sale to save the life of little Timmy, who has once again fallen down a well.
Them’s just the breaks. But if you do yourself a favor and step outside of the dastardly confines of marketplace humanity, there are greener pastures. Your work will thank you for freeing it from worthless scrutiny. And if you really want to make money in art, that’s cool, too. Now you know how. Go forth, young Paddington. There are kittehs to be painted and brooding ars poetica to be written. The world is your stinking oyster.
By Johnny Beaver