Creators and Creations: Wherefore Art Thou?

Since it’s entirely subjective, virtually anything can be considered art.  I could go to the bathroom inside of a top hat and put it on display, assuming that’s not been done several times already.  While this might sound like a weakness, it’s also a strength.  Since it is subjective, it doesn’t impose limits and provides endless opportunities.  However this also lets a lot of garbage slip by.  Plenty of artists make a name for themselves and people want to buy every piece of paper they once sneezed into for some grotesquely obscene amount of money.  This works literally and as a metaphor for bad art.  It may just be that some art is worth more money than most people will ever amass in several lifetimes, or it may be that some people just have entirely too much wealth.  But suggesting to a rich person that they might have too much money is like suggesting to a dangerously fat person that they might eat too much food.  It isn’t likely to change anything.

I guess the same goes for artists.  What are they really worth?  After doing a little research, I found that the average annual salary for an artist is supposed to be around $47,500 each year.  I don’t know if that figure takes into account all of the suicides and mental breakdowns that occur just trying to establish yourself creatively, but I sort of doubt it.  I bet we’ve lost a lot of wonderful artists to a lack of fortitude, inability to feed themselves, tragic failure and random misfortune.  Of course, I currently live in Michigan where we thrive on such things.

There is actually several thriving creative communities in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.  A few nights ago, I had done some light galavanting with friends.  What began as a few drinks, turned into a few more drinks at a local music festival and evolved slowly into a full night of aggressive positive social interaction.  The scene was maybe a little too hip and I made habitual verbal contact with assorted acquaintances and friends that I had not seen in some time.  Women were winked at, men were hugged and ideas were exchanged until my close friends and I felt satisfied.  The music had shifted from enjoyable to ear-destroyingly heinous.  It was like a crime was being committed on stage but nobody was brave enough to stop it.  Still, it’s nice to be in a place where something like that is available six nights of the week.

I have unique access to poets, photographers, filmmakers, actors, writers, musicians, sculptors, painters and illustrators all around me.  Sometimes I wish we were all a bit more cohesive, though.  Artists often possess poor social skills or are at the mercy of maintaining their image.  Being a host to multiple forms of creativity myself, I tend to get overly excited planning collaborative projects with others.

I’m not sure what accounts for this unease in the creative community.  Maybe it’s just the element of competition, but I don’t see how offering a helping hand could hurt.  I love collaborating and would really like to see everyone make it to the top together.  Besides, it’s not like only the good art is profitable.  Some of the best comics only ever made money after they became repetitive and stale.  When I get sick, I have a tendency to watch really old films and read comics.  Recently, I had such a day.  I started by listening to some old Daniel Johnston recordings and reading King Cat.  Then I moved onto some of the more mainstream titles and found myself spending more time analyzing them than enjoying, so I tried to condense years of content into a single comic and tried to explain why they are supposed to be funny.

I’ve worked in an office, it’s actually pretty close to that.  I still don’t feel like I could quite explain what makes these comics so funny to everyone.  This must be an off couple of days for me….

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31 Responses to Creators and Creations: Wherefore Art Thou?

  1. sarahsfate says:

    Perspective. Somewhere, someone thinks Bizarro has funny characters with daily encounters that are painful and…ironic? Assuming a handful of readers can relate, a funny strip is created. Walah. Same with your pooh-in-a-hat art. To someone, its amazing and introspective. Me? I would stare at said hat in speechless amazement, wondering how we went from graceful stone busts to…well, shit.

  2. Cindy says:

    Well said, Mister Posky!

  3. peculiarpotato says:

    It is true that some artists have poor social skills.I am one of them,but a funny thing happens when us nut cases are stuck in a room together,I play guitar and sing mostly.The one thing about musicians is it doesn’t matter what language you speak.When each person starts playing their instrument there is this all consuming cohesion that makes us feel apart of something more than what one of us awkward people could obtain on our own.If you have the courage to play the first note the rest should follow.I like your idea of making it together,it would be rewarding.I don’t create art for other people,I create it for myself.The subjective plateau starts with me.If it feels right to me than let others judge the crap out of it because I did what I wanted.If people don’t like it well damn I do.Then if I go and make another piece of art and I like it and people like it too and faun all over me and put a price tag on me and my art,then so be it ,but again,I did what I wanted.You said you don’t no why people find your comics funny well maybe they like you for you and that you did what you wanted and they still liked it.Sometimes it just happens.

    • Posky says:

      I guess, perhaps I shouldn’t overanalyze and just keep working on my own things. You’ve got a good point and have reminded me why I love doing what I do so much.

      Thanks for that.

  4. Spectra says:

    There’s surely a lot of bad art. But ‘expert’ bad art…there’s the thing.

    I used to submit art to this juried show every year, and get rejected. One year, I went to that show to see 2 pieces that got in over mine (which are too ‘representational,
    not abstract-contemporary enough in execution) and it was a red rectangle, 2″ x 3″ on a white piece of paper, about 16 x 20″. And below this work of ‘art’ was another similar piece…as if we all needed to see it twice. The juror decided this was better than my self-portrait featuring a necklace made out of actual pharmecueticals, with presciptions and drug labels pasted all over it. Hm. Go figure? Purely subjective. I should have just painted a BLUE RECTANGLE and labeled it “Drug #5: American Heretic” or something fancy to hide the fact that it lacked substance – they would HAVE to have taken it…unless the judge had a preference for red over blue.

    • Posky says:

      “Fine” Art has this weird exclusive inclusivity to it. Almost if you try to say something too directly, it hurts you/the piece.

      I’d like to see that painting you made though. I feel like my mind has created a poor representation of it with the limited details I have. It sound interesting though.

  5. The City of Miami buys art. Sculpture for open areas. The sculpture is of cubes and shapes or a bunch of pipes arranged in strange forms. They are painted in bright colors. They cost $400,000 each. That would feed and house 100 homeless for a year. But we need “art” to dignify the city as we ignore the dignity of people.

  6. Tough subject…I chose to enter the “art world” at the urging of a good friend. Bad mistake. Because I didn’t fit the “persona” of the starving artist (I am a middle aged middle class suburbanite) I wasn’t privy to their little private jokes and stories of misery. There were a few that were normal…but they wouldn’t admit to it.

    • Posky says:

      I have fit it perfectly for far too long. I’m past being ready to not be starving- because I’ve starved both figuratively and literally at this point.

  7. NecroKitten says:

    Well said! I’m a fan of your comics, that artist one made me snort giggling into my tea. I can’t even tell you how many artists i’ve met that look down on me because I make things and yet…i’m not an ass to other people. The art ‘world’ is screwed up. If I could sell a crappy painting I did for half a million dollars, WHOO! Hahaha.

    • Posky says:

      I’ve liked most of your work. That mannequin still sticks out in my mind. Sometimes I notice them in windows and think of yours.

  8. If that’s the average salary for a visual artist, I daresay they’re doing better than those of us who make our living by the proverbial pen…

    Which may explain why creativity in this country goes to making better gadget-widgets, or helping to market diamond-encrusted multimillion dollar skulls. Ooops. Silly me. That would be a Brit. With a few pickled sharks on the side.

    • Posky says:

      It does seem high, doesn’t it? Who funds that? What are they putting out? How was the math done?

      It’s made more questions than it’s answered.

  9. anonnickus says:

    Would that poop in the top hat be a one off thing? It could be a limited run too like some Doulton figurines. Runny poop in a hat doesn’t have the same cachet for me. As an art consumer I would think of one as art and the other not. If it was all your poop would you be offended by my such opinion of your work? Would you call me an unsophiticate because of it? Were I an art reviewer for a magazine I would be required to delve deeper into your art for the sake of the public. I would have to question your diet, your pallet as it were and its effect on your over all composition. If I hated it I would call it compost instead. If I liked it I would compare your digestive expertise to a Da Vinci brush stroke.

    Yes it is art.

  10. nrhatch says:

    Here is my favorite Dilbert Cartoon of all time:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/09/26/dilbert-pregnant-pause/

    It’s about collaboration . . . so I know you’ll like it. :D

    I also know you’ll like it because unlike that horrid artiste having sex with fingernail furniture girl . . . I don’t hate you. I like you. Because you remind me of Ziggy. (The comic strip star, not Stardust.) But don’t worry . . . I would never take advantage of you or try to ruin your life.

    • Posky says:

      I did like it. And, honestly, I loved Garfield all of my life- especially when I was younger. I even have soft spot for Ziggy.

      But I can’t help but think they all got stuck in a rutt after that first decade.

  11. I’d read your comics while sitting in Perkins spending my kid’s college fund on omelets and crappy coffee. No poop in a hat, though; I’ve seen plenty of poop.

    • Posky says:

      I don’t know why everyone assumes that I’d be pooping in a hat. I never said that. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

      Also, if you’re going to blow your kid’s college money, do it on mediocre coffee or better.

  12. Byron Mosley says:

    Getting creative folks to work together can often be like herding cats; a lot of work goes into creating the right conditions (money, physical proximity, set schedules, and clear roles for each artist) that I think most artists would rather go at it alone. I’m guilty of this thinking, but I would like to get working on stuff with you again. I’m still doing research for some of my own video projects, but in the meantime, give me a call and let me know what I can help with.

  13. comingeast says:

    The enjoyment of art is a personal thing. I’ve been at MOMA and stared at a painting that looked to me like streaks of black paint and wondered why that was considered art, but to each his own (plus it was painted by a big name, and that’s a huge part of it, isn’t it!). Comics are the same way. I love Pearls Before Swine, but my husband never thinks it’s funny. I always think you’re funny.

  14. First of all, excellent thoughts on what art is (or is not), and what makes an artist (or doesn’t). I recently heard of a French woman, an “artist” of sorts, that would go on stage and lay a blank canvas on the floor, with 3 different glasses of milk in front of the canvas; one red, one blue, and one yellow. She would also have 3 people singing high-pitched notes in the background the whole time she was on stage. She would then proceed to drink one glass of milk, crawl upon one of the canvas and vomit up the coloured milk, and so on, until all of the milk was gone and then vomited back up on the canvas. She had an audience while she did this.

    She then sold the “artwork” for some sick amount of money.

    That is not art. If it were, I would have been an artist when I was 5 that time I got a really bad case of the flu. Ridiculous.

    Secondly, I laughed (out loud) at your take on mainstream cartoons. You’re right, they’re very repetitive. Not NEARLY as insightful as your comics…especially the one you did of the hot dog made of old people (still my favourite, by the way…). :)

    • Posky says:

      I’m guilty of all the same things. I mean the bits about laughing at comics, not the one about painting like that woman from France.

      I’ve never done that. Ever.

      I’m glad you like some of my work. Hopefully, you stay entertained.

  15. The Hook says:

    Who can say why one artist is successful while another languishes in obscurity?

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