There is most likely more art produced today there has ever been before. The Internet led to the democratisation of art and, to some extent, to its demonetisation. As Deresiewicz wrote:
“Perhaps the most insidious aspect of free content, as well as the most demoralising, is the extent to which it devalues art in the eyes of the audience. Price is a signal of worth. We tend to value more what we have paid more for or worked harder to get; what we have gotten for free with a click we tend to value not at all.”
This also makes an excellent parallel to the late collector Stefan Edlis in the documentary The Price of Everything. He quotes Oscar Wilde “today people know the price of everything but the value of nothing”. How in the current economic context, with the rise in rent and basic commodity but a decrease in the value attached to creative work, are artists making a decent living?
We want to hear you about this subject. The economy of the creative industry is something that it is particularly closed to .ART has it is part of our mission to find ways to contribute to generating value for artists. The industry is at a turning point, and while we are all entering the discussion around this topic and most likely reading Deresiewicz’s book, let’s think about the two following questions:
- What are the biggest challenges you face today as an artist who tries to survive and thrive in this economy? Any tips you want to share with the community?
- How can you pivot your skills to make the most of your art education?
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Review of the book by evlyne Laurin
This book is based on numerous interviews from artists in all the creative industries, including musicians, writers, visual artists – the people who give vividity to our life, the show we watch on telly, the podcast we listen to while walking our dogs, the book we read on our holidays. It highlights the dichotomy in the discourse, too, between the one created by Silicon Valley, which proclaims that there hasn’t been a better time to become an artist and the other side of the medal, the tale, which seems much more believable told by the artists themselves. Not all stories are fairy tales, and Deresiewicz pushes a step further than Scott Timberg did after the 2008 crisis with his book “Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class”.
The book asks many of the right questions that need to be answered. It is fascinating to read the tales of other artists and how they find solutions to make ends meet, but at the end of the day, there aren’t many solutions that are put forward. Yes, you can join a creative league or an advocacy group. Yes, you can fight against the system and hope that things will change, but time won’t reverse. It might be time to find long term solutions that understand the value in everyday life of creative work and stop being shortsighted about the genuine effort that artists put into their work.
Don’t mourn, organise is the last chapter of the book. The last sentence of the book, “We only need each other”. If we don’t think that systemic changes will happen, maybe we can be the change and finally find ways to support one another and make the arts economy can become something that will flourish from the communities, perhaps an organic change is the most suitable one?
This book sparks a profound reflection on the role of artists and other creatives in each other’s lives. I hope reading it will guide some people to take the right decision for themselves; to go or not go to grad school, to take or not a full-time job, to believe that they can pivot their skills and make a living. I am ready for constructive conversation and an open debate that should look into public funding, universal basic income, taxations, free work, internships and all of what does and doesn’t put money into the pocket of the creative industries. It is time to rethink what we assign value to.
A bit about the author
William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent speaker at colleges and other venues, and a former professor of English at Yale. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, the Nation, the New Republic, and many other publications. He is the recipient of a National Book Critics Circle award for excellence in reviewing and is the New York Times bestselling author of Excellent Sheep, The Death of the Artist, and A Jane Austen Education.
To discover more about him and his thoughts on his book, read: “After the Artist is Present – Is the Artist Dead? Interview with William Deresiewicz, author of the Book The Death of the Artist”