The New York Times on “The Cost of Being an Artist”

Spotted this very interesting piece from the New York Times online today. I think it breaks down some key concepts in the current struggle going on between content creators and content distributors in the current climate. The threat to the arts is very real and being reflected in both the mainstream and genre worlds.

Being an NYT piece it is naturally a bit US-centric but otherwise does a good job showcasing some different perspectives from artists, writers, bloggers, musicians, filmmakers and arts-sector administrators. I encourage readers to take a look and consider what is being said about the future landscape.

The Cost of Being an Artist – New York Times

As always, join the discussion in the comments section below and share what you think.


The New York Times on “The Cost of Being an Artist” — 5 Comments

  1. This may sound extremely cynical, but when I think about the art world, the main thing that comes to mind is OVERSATURATION. There are just too damn many.

    Then I wonder about the subsidization process of different countries. How it determined whether a given artist “qualifies” for subsidization? And if the govt subsidizes it, is it the artist’s work or the govt’s? Something that’s always stuck out in my mind is the “Fear on Film” episode on Criterion’s Videodrome DVD, in which Cronenberg discusses the state of Canadian censorship in the early 80’s. Very loose paraphrase: “You submit your film for a rating, they cut parts out, hand it back to you and say ‘BOOM, this is your film.’ And you can be imprisoned for exhibiting the uncensored cut.” I don’t know what it’s like in Canada nowadays.

    I dunno. When I was in film school, we were taught “Don’t EXPECT to be able to make a living off your work.” When I dabbled in underground electronic music & a small indie label released my work, there was no expectation whatsoever of financial reward. I’ve talked to a fair amount of record label owners who have to hold a day job. If people think it’s hard BEING an artist while holding a day job, imagine trying to SUPPORT & DISTRIBUTE artists while holding a day job.

  2. I agree that the ‘art world’ is supersaturated. there are too many ‘artists’ of any style thanks to the ease of reproduction and distribution that a few dollars can buy. when a talented individual is short on cash… that’s a heartbreak. even worse, when a talented individual is short on both time and cash. that’s the real killer. it’s really hard to hold a lucrative job and have ample time to create properly. it’s rare that one can find a job that works with thier creative life and provides not only enough cash to live comfortably but enough to afford what supplies they need. cameras, computers, paint, instruments… whatever it is should be the best available, insured and replacable. this is a massive roadblock that the non-creative can barely comprehend.

    it’s fairly aggravating to see talent stifled by subscribing (willingly or not) to a 40 hour work week while some coast on a few good ideas and disposable income.

    too many artists I know eat poorly, sleep rarely, have schizophrenic social lives and not nearly the amount of exposure they deserve for those very real sacrifices.

  3. The problem is our slippery definition of artist. Until the second half of the 20th century the arts were a craft you studied and apprenticed for, and if you mastered the craft with imagination you superceded being an artisan and became an artist. And when was the last time anyone used the term artist manquee despite being surrounded by them in the media today? Maybe bloggers, photoshoppers, online editors and people who make digital shorts and digital music aren’t really artists but rather people indulging in things that interest them, making them mere hobbyists, and that by allowing them to call themselves “artists” perpetuates a misappropriation of the term. Our critical facilities have become so neutered nowadays that we automatically accept as an artist anyone who declaims himself as one, but the sheer amount of personal expression using traditionally artistic media cries out for a return to a semblance of actual standards. Your garage band, youtube short, blog, or art-therapy painting doesn’t make you an artist any more than the basil in my backyard makes me a farmer. Just because you have an artistic sensibility doesn’t mean you deserve any pity or sympathy. It’s your fault you never found the discipline or the means or the contacts to find a way to commercialize it enough to make it your livelihood and instead ended up pushing paper or writing code or blogging clickbait or flipping burgers. Yes, the threats to the arts is real, but like most cultural threats, it’s self-generated by a lack of critical standards and a willingness to call bullshit.

    • “Just because you have an artistic sensibility doesn’t mean you deserve any pity or sympathy.”

      Fucking A. To argue otherwise implies a cultural aristocracy of sorts wherein the “non-creative” are subhumans whose thoughts, dreams & struggles aren’t worthy of comprehension of understanding. Why do the “non-creative” need to comprehend the lives of the so-called “creative” but not vice versa? Are the “non-creative” not worthy of being understood? Do the “non-creative” have no hopes, dreams, or struggles worth acknowledging?

      This whole notion of the “creative” vs the “non-creative” reeks of elitism.

      There’s an essay from Apocalypse Culture called “The Case Against Art” that’s worth considering:

      Creation. Destruction. I can’t tell the difference.

  4. Pardon me if I *bump* this for “Recent Comments.” I think Lydia & CJ had interesting things to say, and represent the type of discussion LPP is hoping to inspire. I hate to see them overshadowed.

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