Figured I might as well talk out everything I've been thinking about. I wanted to touch on some thoughts regarding the online art community and being a personality.
Over the past few years as Facebook has become the dominant way to be seen in the community as an artist there has been a very big rise in artist 'personalities'. This isn't a new thing, I knew of Bobby Chiu and Schoolism doing this similarly before fb was so popular for artists with his ustream videos and all of the classes he was offering. But now it almost feels like for a lot of people it has become a goal and something to work for. It seems that this is almost more desirable than keeping your head down and becoming a full time working professional.
When I started doing the Crimson Daggers livestreams years ago I was trying to mimic Bobby's approach but instead of offering anything after the fact I would just keep everything free. This is because I both believed that I couldn't offer anything worth paying for at the time and that education should be free. Now I don't believe you can truly offer education for free that is of great quality without some kind of automated income to support the effort. But anyway, what ended up happening was I became, in some small way, one of those internet personality people.
What I didn't understand was the blurred line between talking to friends in the community and being a person talking to a community. Once that started to happen I realized I was no longer perceived by people as a guy just hanging out with others and talking about art as we all improved, instead it was coming off that I was one of those lame dudes pushing my opinions on people in some kind of fake assumed position of any authority. I never wanted to become a personality but it kinda happened and made me feel gross. All I ever wanted was a group of people learning together and growing.
After this I brought on my friend Dan Warren to help with the group so I wasn't just sitting there seemingly as this sole personality regulating an entire group. What ended up happening was we were amplified in our opinions having been friends our whole lives and were much more comfortable speaking vocally of all of them. Many things of course become lost in translation at this point, sarcasm goes undetected and your opinions are set in stone in video format.
My point is that people within the group were no longer just friends working together. I had, without even realizing it, made myself into one of those personalities. With this came a lot of judgement I believe mostly because you see someone in some assumed position and think of how they're either not good enough, qualified or smart enough to be there speaking to groups. I totally agree with that for the most part. Some people just shouldn't have swaying opinions over groups.
And this is where I think we find most 'personalities' now. It is assumed that these people are able to talk to and influence large groups because they themselves are achieving great things and are smart enough to warrant this position. They then have to live up to this expectation by staying in this spotlight without seeming to fail as with failure comes the judgement of the community questioning why you deserve this. I think this creates a problem with being a 'personality'.
If you are not already at the very top of your game creating amazing work then there is room to grow. But failure in front of a large audience puts you in a scary position. Do you risk failure in front of all your peers or do you stick to what you know so you don't look bad? Most I'd say stick to what is safe as to avoid ridicule and who could really blame someone for that? It's rough when people want to take whatever chance they get to tear you down. But what does that turn that artist into? How do they continue to grow if they can't fail?
My only point is to hopefully sway people away from the allure of being well known simply for being a personality. People who invest all of their time in front of an audience are not the ones behind the scenes working the hardest. People like Craig Mullins, Wes Burt and Brad Rigney sit and work and are well known simply for their art. We should idolize people who are truly great at their craft and not idolize people who spend most of their time talking.
After all, ask anyone on the street who Craig Mullins is. Nobody knows any of us artists besides people who like the specific work we do or are a part of our immediate community. At the end of the day what is important is the work you produce and what you put into it. Get great because you want to be great at what you do not because you want to be perceived as great.
Love to you all,
An aside -
And again, like I said in the previous post, I don't believe there are any absolutes and there will always be exceptions to the rule. I don't think anyone should follow an opinion like gospel so I hope this doesn't come off too preachy as it is only my own opinions/observations.