Friday, August 29, 2014

The Community and Personalities

Hey everyone,

  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.


Unknown said...

Now to get good!

Sam said...

I have to admit when you first starting your streams of studies, you came across very genuine, even if I thought your screen name was a bit crass for crass' sake, and I think I probably fell into the category of putting you up onto the pedestal that internet 'celebrities' tend to get. But watching your One Fantastic Week interview, I realised a lot of the preconceptions I'd had about you were very wrong, and you were just a regular guy working damned hard to get to where he did. I think not that long ago, I craved the kind of attention you got from CD, the big fish in the small pond of digital artists, but between you and few other of the people whose work I admire giving out a similar message, I'm realising now that you shouldn't create for the sake of fame or money (though sometimes those things help) - you should create because you want to and because you feel your story should be told, even if it's to yourself. I view your work differently now, than I did - I've enjoyed your star veil and Black Witch stuff immensely, but even more so now knowing you're just a regular guy who goes through the same ups and downs we all do. Mostly because it makes that goal of perhaps getting my vision out to a public that cares about it seems a little more achievable now.

Carlos Cabrera said...

Hi Dave, I remember when we chat via Messenger and you was fighting with a fat orc for WoC, and you always told me that you want to keep working on your skills, I see that now you feel out of the context and I understand because everybody have the same problem. The art community is almost dead because the social networks, the people don't share their thoughts and they just comment "cool, nice, like" and other just press the like button.
Some artists use this kind of "metric system" to say "ok, I'm a famous artist because I have 20k likes or followers", and as you said.. some people don't know who Craig Mullins is. I heard people say "the new Dave Rapoza art don't have the same likes than before"... is that something important? ShareS? Likes? What happens with the starter artist that investigate, ask for tips, and save the images on a folder to study later? Where they go? They are on a hidden forum? They just disappear?
Personalities are now the new toy of Social networks, more likes/shares/balloons/ more famous.
And most of that people don't have the need of have a job, they are just trying to make Dad proud on Xmas dinner.

Rafael Sarmento said...

Did I said already how much I'm loving you more, dude? Well, there you have it.

No one with a minimum of sensibility needs to take your words with any grant of salt - your words are simply FACT. It doens't only reflect your opinion, it certainly reflects some "artistic common sense" (as much as there isn't such thing, especially in this crazy, ego-filled universe of creative people we're living in - with several exceptions, of course).

At first I thgought I was the one who was wrong, thinking of the EXACT SAME THINGS and reaching the same conclusions as you - even if I couldn't be more far away of being a "personality". I'm a nobody, in fact. But it's just because I'm the one holding the gun facing the war, and not the one behind the trenches pretending to be a hero, and I know that you know what I mean. I'll always prefer to be the anonymous soldier - in fact, I don't even think I have other option.

You became a personality on your own rights - you made this all happen SOLELY based on your hard work and your good attitude torwards other folks, spreading the knowledge. That ressonated with people. And knowledge, for me, it's just like happiness for Alexander Supertramp - it only makes sense when it's shared.

You see how silly and naïve I do sound?! But it's because it's THAT simple! It's pure, silly truth.

I got tired of Facebook because of the "art gurus" everywhere. Ok, some of them are nice, but MOST are just the kind of people you described, and I think we REALLY don't need to develop about them further - it could ruin our karma. ;)

Thanks for taking this out of your chest - you took from mine too, and certainly from a LOT of other folks around. "Likes" as a sign of success,? it's just TOO dumb and arrogant to be discussed at all.

Well, if you allow me, I'll get back to the anonymity - there's a bunch of work here, and someone needs to get things done.


Tybertimus said...

It's kind of scary how easy it is for people to hold people like yourself up to standards of perfection and start picking at every perceived or potential flaw, no matter how small. I don't envy you that.

That being said, I'm glad I haven't fallen into that mindset with my favorite artists and illustrators, you being one of the top. You are a huge inspiration to me, with your artwork as much as your down-to-earth attitude, but at no point have I thought you were or should be without faults, or without room to learn and get better like the rest of us.

Long story short: don't worry, you're still awesome, and I'd totally just hang out with you and laugh when you pull apart my artwork :P

Unknown said...

great read again, thanks for this dave.

probably a bit off-topic, but the facebook community with some of its "speakers" really starts to annoy me.

its all about their opinions, u need their stuff to compeed in the industry, you need to give money to them and u need to kiss their asses and push their ego even further.

there are some "personalities" yeah..they are definitely way above already.

however this will affect my career, i really dont want to be a part of this.

Mixxerly said...

Great views dave ! Should change this definitely.