There Has Never Been A Better Time To Be An Artist

- - The Future

…because everyone’s a photographer now. Those two seemingly contradictory statements are the subject of the soon to be released film, “Press Pause Play” which will premiere at the SXSW festival in Austin, March 11. The trailers have been floating around for awhile now and whenever I watch them I can’t help but hear my bullshit alarm screaming in the back of my head, because they’ve interviewed a bunch of people who plan to make millions off all the wannabee artists that are now suddenly empowered by the internet. I would argue that while it’s gotten easier for people to create things and absurdly easy to distribute them, creating something interesting and engaging has remained as difficult as ever.

Yes, supporting and curating that consumer driven content is a new income stream for many people, but what’s routinely touted as revolutionary is simply a byproduct of a recession. Hiring creative problem solvers who can rise above the fray will always win in the end.

via Wonderful Machine Cog

There Are 22 Comments On This Article.

  1. We always hear the small group of hugely successful people saying how great it is to be right now. It’s like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones saying… “it’s a great time to be in the music business… we make millions every year.”

    Jeff

    • @Jeff Singer,

      Opps… comment got abbreviated because of formatting… should read “how great it is to be a (insert difficult to be successful creative field) right now.”

      • @Jeff Singer, Exactly. Easy to feel great and optimistic about everything, or even just the state of one particular field, when you’ve already made your millions. (At which point they can tack on “motivational speaker” to the other thing[s] they do…thereby raking in even more money. Because we all know how much people want to believe, and how much people will pay for someone to encourage and reinforce that belief – however far-fetched it may be.)

        • @Cynthia Wood, I wonder what Seth’s speaking fees are? This is the thing that many of the people giving away books and blogs for free are doing:

          Getting four and five figure speaking engagements.

          • @greg ceo, I’m sure Seth Godin’s speaking fees are quite substantial.

            But no one would want to hear him (or anyone like him) speak, and no one would pay him four- or five-figure sums to speak, if he wasn’t already very successful at something else…if he hadn’t already made a lot of money writing/selling books — or whatever the case may be. Right?

            It’s a lot easier to do stuff or give away stuff for free when you’ve already got plenty of money in the bank and your ass is covered, so to speak.

            • @Cynthia Wood, You are speaking to the choir. I’ve met Seth and photographed him for an editorial job. He’s a super nice guy, but I agree with you, as per my post below.

    • @Jeff Singer, Yeah, but read the history of the Rolling Stones. They started playing bars and clubs for nothing. They built their brands, their following, mainly on the backs of American blues musicians. They were forced to evolve and grow, they made bad business choices, declared bankruptcy, fled their home country. They didn’t become the Rolling Stones over night, and they didn’t do it for the money.

  2. Seth sold the book online not because he gave it away for free, but because he already has huge following. So he bypassed the publishing industry and sold his book due to the fact that tons of people want to read what he has to say.
    Yes he has nurtured that following, but he already was a household name in the marketing industry before he started the blog.

    He loves to make these grand statements and they really attract attention. “Publishing is Dead.” They make good headlines and sell books and make him a hot commodity Not every “Purple Cow” makes money. Some are just weird ideas that no one else has thought up.

    There are many many many self published books out on the market, and only a few are successful. There are many songs on i tunes, but only a few sell over and over and make a lot of money.

  3. It is clear that the key to success is having compelling content. Making interesting compelling content is the biggest challenge. Its also a challenge to get that content to shine among everything else in our world. It is an exciting time because the barriers to the market are changing dramatically. Everyone has a voice, and an audience- but the big question is What do we have to say?

    -Simon

  4. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!!! No one is entitled to anything… Not even bad photographers like Chase Jarvis.

  5. You sound so incredibly judgmental and condescending and fearful.

    Don’t you sell websites to photographers? Oh, just to good ones, right?

    Are you just pining for the days when art was good art made by the right group of men who were destined to make it? The days when we could all sit around and discuss the virtues of educating the uneducated masses about the difference between good art and the rough version of art made by the “regular people”? They don’t know the difference, do they? But you do.

    What’s your problem? Wasn’t life good to you before? Isn’t it still? Why are you so afraid of opening the doors of creativity and expression? There’s still lots and lots of barriers, just fewer now.

    Is it just to protect your income stream, or what your income stream used to be, back in those good days?

    The future will always beat on. With or without you.

  6. Interesting thoughts here regarding the democratization of media production. What is true and what is perceived overlap, but there are certainly gaps between the two in my opinion. I know I’ve had many of my own myths about the industry and my place in it turned on their heads so-to-speak.

    In my own experience, I’ve seen the fees paid by both my commercial and editorial clients drop significantly in the past three years…but I still get called. So even though “everybody is a photographer” these days I don’t experience, or believe, that being a creative problem solver is no longer a viable career. Yeah…its really tough to make great money and its highly competitive…but what business isn’t?

    I’ve had to call my own bluff sometimes when I’ve been prone to whine or complain. I’ve repeated it enough to myself…”Get over it. Things change. Its not easy. Quit whining and do something about it. Either up your game or do something else.” Its still a battle for sure.

    For some, redefining what success is and reassessing one’s attitude can be hugely beneficial. But there are always people crapping all over that kind of idea and saying its just self-help B.S., etc. Maybe. Maybe not.

    Anyway, this entry here today has made me think of what a friend once said to me years ago…”Everybody has an excuse why they’re a loser.”

  7. If the quote from Moby at the start of this Trailer is the premise for the film..

    “When humans make stuff we tend to make interesting things. 30 40 50 years ago people didn’t make things..”

    He then gets into the idea that people only ‘experienced’ art & culture but well now they can live it sort of thinking!

    What a fatally flawed and crazy idea! People have always made things. In the west we even used to manufacture things that workers were proud to make, workers who quite possibly didn’t give a rats about ‘consuming’ culture.

    This film looks like its going to be one huge head-up-ones-arse with NEW ADDED Navel Gazing! Will be huge with the conceited set like Moby…

    Some of us can appreciate that people are creative, some of us realise and thank-god that we have committed or professional people to make art/film/stuff for us so we get good stuff not the world of mediocrity the facebook world is leading us toward.

    Hands up if you have been to the local craft show… anyone…

  8. Why all the adoration for Seth’s pronoucements? He’s a smart guy who presents a compelling view of NOW. So does Malcolm Gladwell. So does Selina Maitreya, Leslie Burns, Amanda Sosastone and Susanne Sease and the rest.

    Some things have not changed: There are a multitude of markets for our work, it’s a moving target, what else is new? It’s just moving faster than the past. All of these thoughtful “experts” are perhaps ahead of the trends. We should listen to them and take heed. Our ” now” is moving faster. Eat your Wheaties!!! Life goes on…faster.

    • @Paul O’Mara,

      Good advice, “Eat your Wheaties.” It is important to remember if you want to compete well that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

      Some things never change.

    • @Paul O’Mara, I really don’t think the so called “Experts” are ahead of anything. The ones I’ve met are very nice people. They’re always positive and upbeat, and they give a nice feel-good speech–but always remember that if you hire them, they are spending your money, not theirs. And if what they suggest doesn’t work, they don’t give refunds, (on the other hand, photographers probably don’t offer a percentage of gross to consultants who make them money.) Consultants will make many marketing suggestions, and send you an invoice for their services. (That’s the business they are in: some are former Art Buyers who wanted to get off that boat, because the lifestyle was too insane.)

      So if you are right and everything is moving faster and faster, you will need to reinvent yourself, and reinvest your dollars in new work new website, new blog in 2 or 3 years to stay afloat.

      I sense there is some middle ground that Steve mentions above. I have had the same experience as Steve: change or go out of business. Offer a product that clients can’t live without. Offer them solutions to the images they need to make them money.

      I don’t look to consultants to show me the way anymore, I look to clients.

  9. Although I agree that creating something interesting and engaging has remained as difficult as ever, we must not take this literally otherwise we would never create anything because it would never be appealing enough to the audience.