I watched this interesting Moby interview the other day. It was actually done back in 2011, I believe. Anyway, he was discussing the changes happening in the music industry and how they affected musicians and the record companies. What I found interesting about the interview was how closely it paralleled the publishing industry. The whole thing got me thinking about what it means to be a writer, what it means to be a musician, and what it means to be an artist.
Ease brings laziness. What I mean by that is the digital revolution has made creating ‘art’ (for lack of a better word) MUCH easier to do. This is both good and bad. The good comes from creative types having access to audiences they might never have connected with otherwise. There are very few gatekeepers now, so the playing field is level for the first time. You can download musical programs that don’t require learning how to play an instrument. You can create songs and throw them up online for the world to hear. Are they great songs? Most of the time the answer is no. The same thing is happening with drawing. There are programs that help you produce art. Does Renoir have anything to worry about? No. The changes in the publishing industry have allowed people to write stories and immediately publish them without ever thinking about learning craft. There is an innate laziness that comes from ease of use. I think as creators we have to fight the urge to take the easy way out. Creating ‘good’ art is hard work. And frankly, it should be. You should have to work for every note, every brush stroke, and every word on a page. Your audience will appreciate it and you’ll take pride in your creation.
The old saying, “If it was easy, then everyone would do it”, doesn’t apply anymore. Because everyone IS doing it–thanks to the ease of access. The only saving grace about this major shift is that all work is NOT created equal. The people who put in the time to learn their craft will always end up in a better position. It may take them a little longer, but this isn’t a sprint. It’s a ultra-marathon.
I can draw a comic face, but that doesn’t mean I’m an artist.
I can sing, but that doesn’t mean I’m an entertainer.
I can play clarinet, but that doesn’t mean I’m a songwriter.
Here is a quick definition of an artist: Artists are persons having superior skill or ability, or who are capable of producing superior work.
If you’re not trying to become the definition of an artist, then you’re being lazy. And lazy will only get you so far.