Navigating Modern Art

“The Smell of Rank” – Thomas M. Watt, oil on canvas, 2020.

I’ve been toying with an idea for the last few months that I may finally put into practice. But before I get into that, let’s discuss the typical artistic dream:

This applies whether you are a painter, a musician, a filmmaker, or a writer – at your core you value art over superficial gimmicks. The idea of self promotion, marketing, sales, and even merchandising likely makes you feel ill. You entered into your craft because you wanted to express an emotion that would leave a lasting impact on others. You sought to share your life experience through a specified medium with such precision that your message would inspire the souls of others like you.

The problem with this dream is not the dream itself – for it is a beautiful ideal. The issue has to do with the reality of the world we live in.

Any person who has sought to make this dream a reality will likely come across a similar issue: Despite painting a masterpiece, composing a captivating melody, or writing a whirlwind romance, your accomplishment goes unrecognized. The place where I have always been stopped is likely where others have been held up as well – short of the entrance door.

The most difficult aspect of attaining success in these pipe-dream careers is the barrier to entry. Unfortunately (and I say that with sincerity) we all know stories about artists who were discovered due to their overwhelming talent. The reason I say “unfortunately” is because the rapidly changing world we live in is reshaping the gate that prevents us from being recognized. That gate is technology.

If I can produce a quality film for less than $1000 so can anybody else. I can improve the quality a hundred fold each time, but during the time period it requires me to make such a film there are being millions upon millions of films being produced and streamed each day. What I am emphasizing here is the over-saturation of artistic markets.

You may be the greatest painter who ever lived, but if you only have 10 paintings available for sale you are going to have a rough time capturing enough interested clients to for a worthy price point to be fully realized. Now imagine JK Rowling made a painting and tried to sell it. Do you think she would have any trouble finding a buyer, despite its quality? I don’t think so.

So what am I getting at with all this? That the modern artist must choose quantity over quality? God no. My belief is that in order to reach a broader audience you must make yourself an accessible figure. The only way to avoid this would be to “get discovered” by a company or individual more powerful than yourself. Though that is the typical climax of any pipe-dream, I am absolutely sickened by the thought of relying on an outside power to help me make my dream a reality. There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that I would be opening myself up to getting played. If I am holding out for another entity to find success for me, they are going to use that to their advantage in negotiations – after-all, that’s how they’ve become a successful, established entity.

I have long avoided posting any videos on my youtube channel that are not new episodes for my film. In similar fashion, many writers on here only market works of fiction for sale that are full length novels. These things take months or even years to develop. During that time period, the audience for such content is still active in the community – but they’re giving their views, plays, and clicks to other artists.

That is the price of free rentals and free views. Your income from each “customer” is closer to 0 than it is to a single penny. Meanwhile, the top content producers rake in a ton of attention by consistently pushing out content and developing a communal following.

I am not sure what direction I am going to head in, but I do know the typical path of marketing is a foolish one. I can post teaser trailers each week and hype up my next episode all I want. Neither of those options will be even half as effective as producing weekly videos that build a community of viewers who want to hear my perspective on things and learn from me specifically. I am 100% convinced that building the viewership in my channel will result in more views for my upcoming episode than merely waiting until it is completed and hoping it catches fire.

I have an endless list of reasons for why I have not done this already. One of the main reasons is that I fear my channel will become a disorganized nightmare for predictable content. It may include funny videos, behind the scene footage, how-to instructions, and personal blogs. Kind of like my blog here (lol).

Even though the artist in me hates it, I feel like building a brand of personality will enable you to reach a wider viewership. When you have a wider viewership your media sales will inevitably increase. When your sales increase, you will begin to attract the big fish who will see you as a proven investment (After all, that is what modern media behemoths are looking for – not quality, but a predictable ROI).

I’m not really that happy to make this decision because it is not true to how I perceive art should be realized. I am a staunch believer in art surviving on its own merits, not by the personality of its producer. But as I’ve experienced in my own pursuits, you get stopped at the door because the doorman doesn’t even know who the “f” you are, not because the goods you are carrying aren’t worth something special. The modern day issue plaguing the artist is that nobody is going to ask what you’re carrying when everyone around you also has something locked under their arm.

My Dear Ago

My Dear Ago

by guest blogger 

 

Time has stripped those most precious years away from me, each one a blatant act of petty theft

Faded memories and worn out stories are sadly, but wholly, much of what I have left.

One tale in particular, it strikes me right quick. A riddled love story I still aim to solve –

A marriage to a man. Shall we call him Ago? Ago the enigma, I’d say. My epiphanies evolve

This affair, it caused me great woe and torment, yet I had a special love for Ago. I suppose I still do

We danced through life together, a stunning dance. I wish now to share that dance with you

 

We met at an early age – too young to care really. I wouldn’t dare say love at first sight

I didn’t think much of him at the time, what ignorance! This ignorance would end up our plight

Innocent though it was we grew aware – a deepening feeling. How deep? Well that’s murky

We noticed each other, splashing moments. But where ripples met remained a mystery that irked me

Oh Ago, I must disclaim it was strange at times. I’d catch him in my thoughts unbeknownst his aim…

Were my best interests in his mind? We danced. I presume this muse is why some call love a game

 

Our younger years together; ‘twas a passionate but tumultuous tango that entailed us

You see, rarely did we see eye to eye. But I was brazen and he, timid. Hence I’d frequently prevail

Many nights I cherished with Ago, we’d lie in bed and take comfort in the company

Venting our daily trepidations; and they’d melt away and we’d drift away into a nightly harmony

My dear Ago, Oh how it was so! At times together we’d be the life of the party! We could do no wrong

But other moments soiled. Shots of anger fired between us, where blame ran high and scorn ran long

 

Ago and I grew older. But steadier. The conclusion we were meant together became clear

When the foggy veil draped over our love dissolved, a heavy comprehension began to appear

Mind you, I forewarned you of this riddled love. How exactly this flowering took place is hard to tell

Change is viewed best in the Past, Ago and I didn’t notice. We were cast under Present’s spell

My life, my friends would come and go. Affairs, oh I had plenty! Ago would scold me so, I’d cry

I digress, ignorance drove a wedge between us. My ignorance. Yet Ago, he took my mistakes in stride

 

It is here I leave you, withered and worn. These memories of my strongest love haunt me most

Alas! Regrets flood me. We could have been more! I took for granted Ago, now I pay with morose

An old friend now he remains, seldom we converse. Mostly recollecting golden memories shared

Old friends and flames have long since been doused, a sliver of me vanquished with each flare

Still Ago, my dear sweet Ago, he silently flickers. My friend! My enemy! My Love! Can you now see?

I recite to you my dance with Ago, Ago the enigma. I shall tell you his true name, why, it’s Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Various thoughts that fit Together in my Untamed Mind

Image

Pretty girl, sitting there, gazing wide, looking fair.

I know you see it, I do too, the art from God, the voice of truth.

The problem is, you know it’s true, we’ve come from heaven with work to do.

I know my calling, know it fine, called to live my life divine.

By God who judges, He who speaks, the One who whispers my heart to sleep.

I know you want it, want it bad, knowledge of this so makes me sad.

For it’s not quite me of which you want, nor my heart, nor my cock.

But you want the dwelling bruise, the heart that aches, the lasting blues.

I’ll say it simply for some ears – the truth hurts me, the truth you fear.

For when she longs and so “Wants you,” all she wants is the pursuit.

Give her mystery, give her myth, a taste of wrong, a hint of bliss.

Her one true goal is to have you chained, but once she does, you’ve lost the game.

– Thomas M. Watt

And the Liebster Award Goes to…

Image

1.) Where do good ideas come from?

2.) Five minutes with any celebrity – who would it be and what would you say?

3.) Who is your favorite writer, and why?

4.) What is more important for authors today – being an artist or having networking skills?

6.) Would you rather have great sex or an avid readership?

7.) You are walking down the street and see the most awful sight you could ever imagine. What is it?

8.) The life of a writer – Blessed or burdened?

9.) SpongeBob SquarePants or television news?

10.) Tell us about your most current book or WIP –

  • Give me the title and a quick pitch.
  • Why are you in love with this idea?
  • What am I going to get out of this, as a reader?

And the award for this years, 2013 Liebster goes to…

1.) Misha Burnett – Exceptionally smart and a true recluse. Wrote, “Catskinner’s Book,” a science fiction/urban fantasy novel.

2.) Adrienne Morris from Middlemay Farm – Gifted writer and nostalgia fanatic. Winner of the Editors’ Choice award for, “The House on Tenafly Road.”

3.) Kevin Brown – Writes with directness and purpose to each and every word. Published close to 200 articles for Examiner.

4.) Christine Keleny –  Writer, reader, author, and publisher. She’s most famous for writing the entire Rose trilogy, and runs CK Books. Her blog is a must-follow for any aspiring author.

5.) Ayse Juaneda – Her paintings are legendary. Genius. Beautiful. Best artist in the world? I think so.

Congratulations to all you award winners! Answer my questions and nominate the bloggers who you think are deserving. Fill out your own list of questions, then spread the Liebster love by announcing your own winners.

The Lying ‘Artists’

Image

Weights are heavy, eyes are dim, vision blurs, dreams run thin.

Heavy losses too much to carry, sick of seeing social staring –

At those who like to prance around, look at me, this act I’ve found.

There are few artist out today, the few that are get shunned away.

Instead we look to those untrue, instead we honor the false that do.

How my heart bleeds for the artist, how much pain can one man harness.

What have seekers still got left? What trophy gives to noble quest?

When famous faces like to sing, when all good singers go unseen.

When true labor is ignored, when self glory becomes the norm.

Don’t confuse the two I swear, they are not close the art’s not shared.

If I tell you look at me, say to you I am something,

Run around and destroy others, seek to sin and get much coverage.

I am not an artist see, I am just a man who thieves.

But if I spend my time at work, if my art to your heart flirts,

If I can make you smile, if you hope just for a while,

If you look at what I share, if the artist really cares,

Those who look will not see him, those who look will not grow dim.

You will feel just as I feel, you will know the truth is real.

I can’t take this too much longer, I am so weak from goodness squandered.

Today the tables are flipped around,

Where famous faces claim profound,

They tell you how much great they do,

I hope you don’t believe them too.

Few out there are true to thee,

Few out there who make it big.

So please don’t confuse any longer,

Please don’t think the best is honored.

When your talent goes unnoticed,

When good work don’t get you nowhere,

Remember the crowds are all misjudging,

The greatest artist is always struggling.

– Thomas M. Watt