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    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008 edited
    What is the motivation behind art? This isn't just "wall art", but movies, music, and all that stuff.

    Is it possible to make good art without the expectation of making money? Is it possible to make bad art and make a ton of money? Is money the driving force behind good art? Should the expectation of making money influence the final product?

    In order to get people to see where you're coming from, try to answer with more than a one-sentence blurb. The reason for my asking is to see the thought processes behind creation, not necessarily people's opinions.
  1.  (2132.2)
    Couple of minor comments.

    First, you might want to move this out of the main junction to art and moving pictures. In addition, you might want to remember that this board has a large number of working artists, who feeds themselves and their families with their art. Finally it is not productive to start a conversation with a comment that others should try to make good arguments and not simply flame. Whitechapel is full of smart people, and we really do our best to always be constructive.
  2.  (2132.3)
    I wouldn't say good art and money are inextricibly linked, but if you have the urge to make art, why not do it for money if you can?
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008 edited
    If you're worrying about money, that's going to cloud the creative process.

    Jeff Garlin (from Curb Your Enthusiasm) made a great point about making movies, shows, music, whatever. There's art and then there's product. He signed on for Daddy Day Care (product) so that he could fund I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. (art)

    I think Matt Fraction said something similar about working for Marvel so he could at least break even making Casanova.

    So I guess it'd be smarter to play both sides if you could. Make something a mainstream demographic could enjoy to fund creating and promoting true extensions of yourself.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008 edited
    <strike>To foster an environment for discussion, you might want to try a better opener than-- <blockquote> <strike>In order to keep this from descending into a never-ending circle of hate, try to formulate a good argument.</strike> </blockquote> --which is incredibly condescending.

    I guess you could say I didn't 'try' hard enough to 'formulate a good argument' for why I found it condescending; though I'd have to remark that there's no point 'descending into a never-ending circle of hate' over a poor choice of words.</strike>

    And J's right, if this discussion gets any traction it probably belongs in the 'Art' category, not the Main Junction.

    - Z
  3.  (2132.6)
    IMO, this discussion belongs in the Art And Moving Pictures.

    As for money being the driving force behind art - it depends on the artist. Everyone has their own motivations.

    This can be a very good discussion, but it's one that will have many answers and opinions.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008 edited
    I understand the dislike over my "formulate a good argument" comment, but I was trying to get a better thread than 30 people saying "No" or "Yes." I did not intend to sound condiscending; I will change it. Moving forums, too.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008
    <blockquote>Also, Warren or Ariana... move this?</blockquote> Go to<em> Edit</em> the post, then change the category. Simple.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008
    Got it.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008 edited
    - edited - redundant info
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008
    "What is the motivation behind art?" is one of those art-school wankery questions that gets debated in quads around the country by black-clad kids with too many piercings.


    So here's my take. I make art because I love it. I'm not a professional, I've had no formal training. I'm not even sure what I do is "good" by any standard, thought people seem to like it - and that, honestly, is all I want. To create something that makes me happy, and occasionally someone else.

    But I've sold a few pieces, so technically I have made money from it. Did I sell out, did my art become less valid? Would I like to make more money from it? Of course I would. It sure as hell beats a day job. But it's not why I do it. I am not even sure I *could* do it on demand for cash, or I'd go to school and become a real photographer or designer.

    And there is plenty of shit art that sells for thousands, so that's almost a moot point and I don't go into discussin it.
  4.  (2132.12)
    There's nothing wrong with making money are what you are good at. However... there is balance.

    I've watched my mother's artistic career progress since I was a small child. When still in her 20's and early 30's, her paintings had spark, and were great at capturing a likeness. Her photographs were creative and interesting. As soon as her sole motivation for honing her skill became naught but a means to charge more money; get more work... the quality of her art began to suffer. There was less life in her paintings, and they became more technical, more overworked. Her photographs got boring.

    Had she balanced it out somehow, had she maintained an appreciation of creating for reasons other than monetary gain, I beleive she'd had ended up a much better artist.

    That's not to say that she should have spread herself more thinly to create her own works in addition to those she was hired to do. I think you can keep yourself primarily in the "for hire" field, while still maintaining a.... mind set of "why" and "how" that keeps the spark alive.

    However... to the non-artisticly minded, how many would even notice or care to see the difference between pure technical skill, and art with (for lack of a better term:) soul?

    Me, I paint. I photograph. I've not made any money at it. There's no point or direction to my artistic output. Instead, I use my artistic eye to design websites and flyers and whatnot. But I don't separate the two as being totally alien from one another. They feed off one another, and let me appreciate each side.
  5.  (2132.13)
    @rickiep00h: Is it possible to make good art without the expectation of making money? YES. Is it possible to make bad art and make a ton of money? YES. Is money the driving force behind good art? NO. can be in certain situations. Michelangelo was almost forced to work on the Sistine Chapel, and he lamented that he'd rather be sculpting. Few would argue that the Sistine chapel is anything short of a masterpiece. Should the expectation of making money influence the final product? If you are the kind of artist that is willing to sacrifice the integrity of your work, then YES.

    What is the motivation behind art? This is the big one. There are many different answers that are all dependent upon the individual situation. I'll use film (my main area) as an example. The average executive producer might like it if his film is critically acclaimed, but his main goal is to make his goddamn money back. He'd be happier making hundred of millions off of Daddy Day Care then making a few million off of There Will be Blood. The director of a film may be intent upon the same end. Lets face it, they would like to get hired again. But generally any "good" director wants to make a film with values that are important to themselves way before they please anybody else.

    Film really wasn't a good place to go...but hopefully you get my point.

    I make art for many reasons. I enjoy the process of making it. I'm good at it. Art makes life worth living for me. It feels good to have people enjoy my art (hopefully they enjoy it in a way that I do). I feel I have something new to offer myself and the world to enjoy. I love the idea of bringing people into my mind. It gives me a sense of fulfillment that nothing else does. It's about experiencing an emotional state that reality just can't provide, which is pleasurable stimulation. There are a multitude of other reasons.

    I do like making money though. It would be great to live my life doing only the thing I love rather than suffering though some shit 9 to 5 then getting home, being too tired to make art.

    @zoem: This is definitely some art-school wankery question. It's also a defensive question made by those without a modicum of talent or style who only understand/like math and science.
  6.  (2132.14)
    Hum, from the standpoint of someone who has very recently moved between the realms of enthusiast to student, to professional, I can lay it out like a mini story.

    Gerald is 4, he loves to draw with his crayons, or better yet with poster paint because it's really messy. His dad took him to see an exhibition (which he mispronounces expedition), and he announces passionately "when I grow up I want to be an artist!". He however (still learning to count, read and write properly) has little concept of money. He just knows he likes art, and creating things that look like other things makes him proud and excites him.

    Gerald is 13. He still loves art, and now he does it at secondary school, where he gets graded, and a good grade adds to his pride and enthusiasm. He's also starting to learn that good art is more than just enthusiasm, it's hard work as well, and he finds that with regular practice, his art has grown to be better than most people around him. He knows what money is now, and he's established a link between the practice of art and the generation of money, but it's still very abstract... he's not lived in the world where that link can be properly established.

    Gerald is 20. He's in the middle of an art degree of some sort. His work is still his great love, but now enthusiasm is tinged with the jaded recognition of the fatigue that hard work can induce. He's also learning art vocationally, laying down the first solid foundations between *his* art and the generation of money. Over the years his art has gone through many stages, all very impressionable and moulded (although he didn't know it at the time), by the examples of art that commercial distribution brought to his attention. His 'grades' have taken on a new meaning, they're now a foreshadowing of is potential success/failure as a professional artist, so they influence him more, and his pride becomes tangled with the hope of a fulfilling career (which inevitably includes money to work).

    Gerald is 25, and he's forged a budding career in one of the visual arts. He makes enough money to live, but with this comes the stipulation that his art must fill out certain criteria in order to make money (be that a quality that guarantees exhibition, or the more rigid constraints of a brief).

    Okay, so dropping the idiotic story, you can see that "Gerald's" love of art was originally entirely free from the love of money or the association of the two. However, it's crucial to note that from the very earliest moment, he was exposed to art that was produced vocationally (and thus constrained by the criteria that making money lays out). So the artists journey from enthusiasm to profession is one marked by a growing awareness of and restriction by those criteria, until the final, complete restriction. If you've got that far however, it will no longer feel like a restriction, because wrapped up in it is all the successful art you've been influenced by, and the quality which a professional artist (usually) has to exhibit. This artistic restriction is in fact one side of a coin, the other side of which is artistic aspiration. Money and art are indelibly intertwined in our current society, and that's not a bad thing, although it can be restrictive and in a worse-case scenario (one that's been lived out at stages in the history of comics), it can stop an entire artistic medium from developing properly.
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2008
    @zoem: This is definitely some art-school wankery question. It's also a defensive question made by those without a modicum of talent or style who only understand/like math and science.

    The reason I ask (aside from the general idea being thought up in another thread and I didn't want to hijack it with a side discussion) is that I was wondering just how many people consider art to be free from an audience's reactions and whatnot. If you're making something with the intention of selling it, how much thought does an audience get? I exempt work for hire from this, as usually you're working toward a specific goal. But, as an example, what if you were to paint something with the nebulous idea of hoping someone buys it? Would you change it to make it more appealing to someone else, or would you just paint whatever and roll the dice?

    I like how these comments are going... there's a definite "you have to balance them both out" theme building.
  7.  (2132.16)
    As I tried to demonstrate with my story, anyone who practices art is necessarily influenced in some way by the publicly visible art they have come into contact with. Since any set of art with high public visibility naturally manifests a number of "factors of success" (having been successful itself), an artist will always be unconsciously or consciously motivated by those factors when making any artistic decision. What remains is simply the degree of consciousness, which would vary depending on the artist and their attitude.
  8.  (2132.17)
    @ Paul Duffield -

    I find your parable very interesting, in that it depicts a totally different relationship than I have with the art world based on associations and reinforcements from childhood and early life. I'm assuming your tale was auto-bio based.

    Me, I was raised by a woman who married old and rich, and was free to create as she saw fit. My early grade school years were spent hanging out with her in her dark room, watching her paint in her art studio. Most of my evenings were spent running around the art school she attended in Newark, scrawling away as though I were a fine art student too (somewhere I've still got the charcoal drawings of nude highheeled women I did), listening to old craggy oil painting men give critiques, being cast for statues, and modeling for classes if the model didn't show up. The painting classes were huge with high ceilings and massive windows and large empty spaces... where as the graphic design room was tiny, in the basement, windowless, grey, and cluttered with ziptone and rulers.

    Aside from tagging along in my early years, I never had any formal training of any sort. My mother never took me under her wing to show me the ropes, but there were always supplies to rummage through. I finally took an art class my senior year of highschool, and failed (philosophical differences - the teacher said early on that comics weren't art). I'd wanted to go to art school, but having been confronted with my father's "what makes you think you're good enough to go to art school?" and having no parental guidance or interest in my college application process, no idea how to go about such things, I ended up at a crap college for a semester before dropping out. I think, in many ways, my steering clear of art school as a young adult has helped me avoid both an over-commercialism and over-message/statment-ism that I find so frustrating, though I am missing large chunks of technical knowlege.

    As a stark contrast to you, I'd never even considered that grades would have any indication as to my future "success" as an artist, but then, I'd never even thought of my production as being something so translatable to the commercial world.

    Of course, this might be exactly why you have moved from enthusiast, to student, to professional, where as I consider myself simply a "sputtering scattered artist" and live on a few hundred dollars a month.
  9.  (2132.18)
    @rickiep00h: I didn't really mean that you were asking "What is the motivation behind art?" because you were some kind of wanker. I was just making the observation that in real life that is why people ask the question. I took it that you were asking people this to give us this open ended discussion we are currently enjoying :)

    @Paul Duffield: Enjoyed the story. That's part of my life...

    @RachealNoel: I actually think the best way for a fine artist to go (the kind that has gallery exhibits) is to not be trained. It leaves you free to explore your own voice and subjects rather than what the teacher assigns. I went to an arts high school that had three hours a day of drawing classes (there were other "majors" as well). We got out at 4:30. At the end of those years I felt drained, having had to do everything by their clock and their assignments that were more a matter of problem solving (make a sculpture out of straws that can hold a brick; draw an animal from reference then evolve it from real life, etc). At the end drawing wasn't as fun. Then I didn't get into any good film schools so I ended up at the state university and majored in art (all they had). I had all those classes in high school already. I only wanted to make comic books and storyboards not oil paintings. So, I dropped out too.

    Drawing from life is like the only art school training that is essential. And learn the proper way to plot perspective (you can find that in a book). Even if you're main focus is comics or abstract. The only thing that makes an artist better is practice and time.

    Plus, a good idea is to never be tethered to a sketchbook. You get a lot better when you branch out from that and try to do something on a bigger scale (comics bristol, canvas, etc.) that is a tests your ability better than always sketching.
  10.  (2132.19)
    What is the motivation behind art? This isn't just "wall art", but movies, music, and all that stuff.

    Is it possible to make good art without the expectation of making money?

    The motivation behind art is to speak.

    Money is what allows us to finish the sentence without starving to death.

    I've been a starving artist. It was shit. And, like every other starving artist I ever knew, it wasn't an incredibly productive period. Because it's hard to think when you're that fucking hungry.
  11.  (2132.20)
    The motivation behind art is to speak.

    Well said. The best teacher I ever had said the purpose of art was communication.

    And yes, starving sucks. I haven't eaten all day. Oh wait there was that left over slice of pizza. Lol.

    I have been a very productive boy when a contest rolls by with monetary prizes.