Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Orchard Talk

I asked her, “Do you listen to your daughter’s music? …or she, yours?”

Suddenly she got a very knowing look on her face.

It’s a discussion that, as someone interested in human behavior, fascinates me. And as someone trying to make a living doing something creative, it interests AND confounds me.
One might be able to find exceptions, but as a rule it's improbable as an artist to appeal to a generation other than one's own.

I don't know if it's hormonal or experiential. But it's true. 

And since the market is the demographic most likely to spend money on the creative efforts, it becomes an almost impossible task to find enough market in a demographic that has moved on. The low hanging fruit is only available to the young.

There was a band or a songwriter (I don't remember the details as well as I remember the story) in Europe that, realizing this reality, hired a front band so they could continue to sell their music. If that effort was successful, at least it would indicate a hope for a possibility that the artistic product CAN, in fact, be successfully divorced from the producer for the purposes of marketing.

I once presented a thought experiment to a group of fellow art fair craftsmen: “What do you think would happen to art fairs – within, say, 5 years – if all older craftsmen were fronted by younger representatives successfully and completely ACTING AS US?

Would art fairs be meaningfully reinvigorated, or is it also inherent to that generation that they have no interest in that kind of market (where they have to walk around outdoors and actually meet artist/craftsmen face to face.)?

You may point out that there are, indeed, artists and craftsmen that DO appeal across generation. You might even list some such artist/craftsmen. 

Well, I could opine that the reason you can create such a list is because they stand out for their rarity. 

But the reality is more perverse than that. I'm not saying there's NO cross-generational market. I'm saying that when you're cross generational, the market diminishes. That's a completely different, far more dangerous situation (dangerous from the standpoint of sustaining a business or life-sustaining income from it).

The perversity is that when the low-hanging fruit is gone, and you're stuck with either going back to the barn to get a ladder or climbing out on a thin limb to continue harvesting....that's when you're forced into making the most precarious, often stupid and/or desperate economic choices.

Add to that the vagaries of taste and fashion and you're getting a better picture of the orchard.

But another way of looking at the whole thing: 

I think that the "obligate artist" is the one bound for the most personally satisfying artistic existence. If what he's interested in happens to also coincide with what his culture is also interested in, and he has the skill to echo those thoughts back to the culture, he's going to most likely be financially rewarded. And if what he's interested in doesn't coincide with his culture's interests, he'll at least still be content with his pursuit -- even if as an amateur.


  1. it can be annoying to read reviews of "all theses marvelous new artists/craftspeople/aothors ..." and you think...good, but what about paying more attention to those who may be older,may have been creating for longer. Is their work not deserving of your attention?

  2. The current generation looks at the topic of legalizing pots from a totally different perspective . . .