by Missy Hancock
When talking to fellow creatives who have experienced a rash of financial defeat in regards to their creative pursuits, I find one thing in common. They have stopped believing that there is another way. They have lost hope that they really could make something of their creative aspirations. This is understandable, but is not a reason to nail the coffin shut on your creative dreams.
We establish patterns of thought and behavior that must be changed in order to get different results. Most importantly, we must change our beliefs. The saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are absolutely right.” is attributed to Henry Ford and numerous others, because it is such a timeless truth that no one man can own it.
This is the battle of the artist and the creative entrepreneur. Many of us are raised with a belief that artists, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, designers, makers, and other such creative types are irresponsible people who cannot make a decent living. For generations, parents have trembled at the child that announced their intentions to pursue the arts in any way. Creative aspirations have been met with immediate discouragement and “sensible” advice. It is no wonder many artists have enveloped themselves in an elitist, pretentious cocoon. Initially, it was for survival. Artists embraced the idea that they were impossibly misunderstood, they made alliances with the wealthy who were often the only ones who could afford the extravagance of art, of anything that didn’t serve a practical purpose. And yet everyone, not just the upper class, long for beauty, long to be understood, long to be encouraged or inspired and to have their hope restored, which are all things that creativity and art do for mankind.
And so, art for the common man grew in popularity without the general public realizing they were appreciating art at all. Even during the Great Depression, a time when one would assume that frivolous expenses like going to the movies would be completely cut out, weekly movie attendance never dipped below 60 million nationwide. The only possible reason for this that I can conceive is that people were more desperate than ever for an escape, for just a few hours of reprieve from the difficulties of everyday life. As Picasso put it, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” This is the power of art.
We no longer live in those times. We live in a world where art truly can be and is for every man. In this Creative Revolution, it is time to understand that the creative class can, does, and will continue to be a powerful, money making force in the world. It is time to stop spreading the lies and disbelief that artists can’t make money. And it is time to encourage creativity and art. It is time for the arts community to let down their pretentious guard. To let their authenticity and truth shine so that all people can be lifted up by their work. It is time for the last vestiges of elitism in the arts community to die because elitism serves no man. It is a lie that provides a false sense of security while ultimately leaving artists isolated and disconnected.
The purpose of art is to be the heartbeat, the soul of society. To push mankind forward. To remind us that we are all human and all a part of something bigger than ourselves. There is a scene in the Goonies that our family likes to quote. We say it in jest and with laughter, but we love it because it is true. The group of kids are under the city looking for treasure, trying to save their homes and neighborhood from being bought up and destroyed by a giant corporation. They are scared and at one point there is the opportunity to turn back, to escape their current struggle. When they are just about to give up, Mikey speaks up and says, “Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here!” It is just the wake up call the others need to push forward, to continue in their struggle and ultimately to find success and save the day. So today, let me remind you artists, that it’s our time! It is our time down here in a world that needs hope, that needs the raw beauty that comes in honestly made art. We live in a world that is hurting and crying out for someone to remind them of what is good about being human. Fellow creatives, let it be us!