Now, Be Nice and Share…

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Beachpeople I

“A photograph that has not been shared or at least printed is almost an unexistent photograph, is almost an untaken photograph.”

– Sergio Garabay

I have a lot of pictures which I have not shared with anyone or even printed – these are the ones I wish I had not taken, so I don’t mind that by not sharing them I am bestowing upon them the status of “untaken”.

Then I have pictures I like and these I feel compelled to share. I am, at heart, a public artist. I know many people who are private artists. Painters or photographers who make their art and keep it to themselves.

What makes us different? Is it that I am an extrovert? Hardly… Many would say that my art is the only personal expression I’m likely to share, particularly with strangers. There’s a paradox for you.

Many of the private artists I know are very personable and outgoing, self-confident in many ways. They’re the ones you’d expect to find sharing, sharing, sharing…

I think the compulsion, or at least inclination, to “go public” with one’s work as an artist  comes from the desire for the work itself to have some larger meaning. If kept private, it can only have meaning in the sphere it exists in, which is only in your own head. By sharing it, that sphere is expanded and the potential meaning expands along with it. There are certainly other, more practical, reasons artists share – money, for one. But I believe there is a deeper, more personal motivation lurking around there as well.

As Louis Armstrong said, “The music ain’t worth nothing if you can’t lay it on the public.”

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6 responses to “Now, Be Nice and Share…

  1. Well Bob, I knew how I was going to comment on this even BEFORE I saw Satchmo’s quote at the end!

    I have struggled with this question, and had many discussions with Miki about it. Of course, I am very fortunate to play with not one, but two reasonably well-known bands in our field, and can get out there and perform to the public. However, the record business being what it is these days, neither band has been releasing any new music of note for some years, it’s just not financially viable. The next BC Sweet release (when I get around to re-mixing it!) will be a live album with almost certainly no new material. When it comes to my own music, I have several albums worth of solo stuff that I dearly want to be heard, because I believe, too, that without being heard, it loses its meaning, its reason to be. I’m therefore slowly coming around to the lunatic decision to perhaps start giving it away. I feel it is the only way to get the stuff out there. I also feel it may result in an increase in interest for what I do, and might lead some people to put their hands in their pocket to hear more.
    I have to say, I’m torn. on the one hand, I really resent having to work hard on my stuff and then give it away, on the other, I worry that I will lose the will to continue creating if there is no end result other than a nice master track sitting in my studio. What a dilemma!

  2. Kev

    I think music is even more vulnerable to this issue because it is such a performance art as opposed to a static object like a painting or photograph. I don’t envy you. I guess the equivalent would be if I felt like the only way to show my work was to give it away for free, certainly something I’d not be willing to do (though I dropped my prices so much last year it felt like I was giving them away!).

    Maybe we should lobby for Universal Art Care along with Universal Health Care. Everyone would be allocated a certain amount by the government to spend only on art – what’s a few more billions here or there these days?

  3. Making art and then what to do with it really is a paradox. Of course artists say that they paint for themselves– for meaning, for personal content. One of my favorite artists is Hannelore Baron who made very private, very personal art for years and not for the public. But for myself, if I don’t try to get the paintings out there once in awhile, they stack up in the studio. There is a little of both I think— to paint for yourself and then let others take from it what they can based on their own experience.

  4. Donna

    I couldn’t agree more – both components (creating for yourself and for others) are necessary to complete the artistic experience. I suppose the ongoing challenge is to find the right balance…

  5. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

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