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Art is Fun! or A Raw Deal for Artists

Someone said to me today, not for the first time, that art is fun.   The question being, why are artists stressed out and so serious about life and work?

My answer is kind of complicated.   Art is enriching and enjoyable.  Writing stories, playing music and creating drawings and paintings and video games are all creative works of art, I’m just not sure I would characterize any of them as fun.

Fun to me is watching a film, watching Jon Stewart on The Daily Show or playing a video game.    Relaxing is something like getting some exercise, being in nature and reading a book.   Creating drawing and paintings with no pressure involved can be fun too.

Creating art isn’t about being fun though.  I’m not saying that it can’t be fun, and it isn’t fun sometimes to sit down and draw and create little stories with pen and ink, but as soon as you need to put a monetary stamp on artwork it becomes more than something that is about learning and fun.   It becomes your business.  As such it involves finding clients, marketing, building websites.  For me it involves programming as well, designing game levels, animating characters, creating music and staying on the cutting edge of at least a half dozen complicated software packages like Maya, Zbrush, Modo, and Bodypaint to name a few.

Creativity in itself is often elusive.  The idea of being creative is not just to sit and create something, but to create something that expresses something individual from yourself.  That well spring is not always available and when you graft a business plan onto that well spring, then it becomes work, and pressure and often stress when things start to slip.

For me, trying to live a life outside the box, I have chosen to leave “Hollywood”.  Of course I say Hollywood but I mean Los Angeles and Culver City, which is where Rhythm and Hues and Sony Imageworks are located.  Those jobs paid well, there were good benefits and theoretically an “8 hour day”.  Of course overtime is not regulated in this country, so during crunch time, anything goes.

By leaving the safety net of Hollywood, I have chose a life where I have to provide for myself, it’s a sort of hunter gatherer type existence in some ways that I have talked of before.  You look for work and take what you need.    I’m trying to take this a step further by actually turning away freelance gigs in an attempt to launch my own product line of video games, and eventually teaching video games.

Even take a look back at one of my heroes, Leonardo DaVinci.  Not that I can speak for DaVinci, but I believe for him  art was not about fun, it’s about creativity and exploring and was closer to a compulsion.  As amazing an artist as he was, he was perpetually living a hunter-gatherer type of existence and never amassed a fortune, quite the opposite.

I’m not saying that artists are alone here in being under-whelmingly embraced as important in our American culture, but lets take a look at the way children are even taught to learn.   Teachers are said to now, “teach to the test” thanks to G.W. Bush’s idea of what our children need.   Creative aspects of learning are turned into chores and macaroni projects on paper plates.  Music is the first thing to be cut from public school curriculums and art is seen as something only the odd blue-hair loner students pursue.  Everything is regimented and tested and fit into a box, and if it’s not testable, it’s seen as elusive and not worth pursuing, while things like football are exalted to the highest tier of appreciation.  Students who play football, are allowed to cut corners and spend countless hours in this pursuit, even if logic dictates that only one percent of them will ever go on to becoming professional players.

We Create the Boxes for our Children

We are the fast food nation, and we want to be able to put substantive boundaries around everything, which in my mind puts substantive boundaries around what our children can actually achieve.  Americans celebrate things like football because these are things they can easily recognize as a skill, and since most people have not been taught to appreciate art and music, they don’t know how to support the creative aspects of their children’s lives.

Imagine now if Obama gave out billions of dollars to “bail out” the artists and musicians in this country.   During the depression President Roosevelt created the Public Works of Art Project which provided work to artists all around the country to create paintings, sculptures murals etc.   It wasn’t just factory workers, and men building roads, but the creative people were embraced as important as well.

The banks and the auto-makers have gotten their bail outs, I see lots of money going into roadwork, but where is the money for artists during this financial crisis? Where are the great works of public art being created to support our culture and not let the creative people slip through the crack into oblivion?    As someone who spends a load of money on supplies and software each year, I can assure you that money spent on the arts, circulates quickly back into businesses, unlike the money given to the bankers.

Surely, if President Obama created such a program his opposition would cry foul, and scream that it was yet another attempt to make our country socialized.   The real question for me, especially in light of how the capitalists and lobbyists have skewered our country, is why do people equate capitalism with a democracy?  Why when the bankers capitalize on our losses are there not more people crying out for bankers to be put in prison and to topple those companies who wield far too much power.  In fact I’ll suggest that the bankers and lobbyist do far more damage to our country than the terrorists ever have done, and that is the real hidden terror to me.

The connections here are that Americans only seem to value things that they think tangibly lead to money, thus the bankers have gotten all the power and all the bail outs, while honest creative people (and no this does not just apply to creatives) are marginalized and forgotten.

I told you it was complicated.

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Daev Finn is an artist, illustrator, writer, visual effects artist, and video game developer, whose work can best be seen as Aslan in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.

Daev lives in Colorado with his two sons Everest and Asher, and his wife Sheryl Paul, author of The Conscious Bride, and The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner.

http://www.daevfinnstudio.com http://www.sherylpaul.wordpress.com

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