This is a pretty old topic. In the process of transition away from my old blogging platform, I decided it was worth saving my thoughts on Sentimentalism. A few years ago, a friend of mine who enjoys antagonizing me shared the charming motivational meme-like, pseudo-photographic tripe over there on the right. Like any good liberal arts English major with an emphasis in the Victorian Era, and as an artist, I can’t stand Sentimentalism. In my opinion, It’s really not much more than a cheap sales-pitch.
This thing makes it sound like every stick figure or knit scarf anyone ever creates is as profound, significant, and timeless as the Mona Lisa. I get that the creative process can be lengthy, but “…hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures.”? It didn’t even take that to build a particle accelerator or land a glamorized erector set on Mars, (complete with video relay across 8 months of space). No offense, but if you think the oblong blob you’ve just thrown on a potter’s wheel is as relevant to human history and the evolution of culture as the Cistine Chapel, you’re already too delusional for the dose of reality you’re due.
Can someone please explain what an independent artist in today’s world is anyways? There’s a greater chance we’ll all wake up to a real life Jurassic World tomorrow than actually see the “indie” movement be anything other than 90’s nostalgia. Then again, maybe this person has a point. Yes, we have a serious problem in our world today: The Commercial and Career painters and sculptors who keep the poor independent artist stuck in their basement playing with Playdough. Their roughly 2 billion dollar a year industry is a blight on this fine country. We won’t even speak of those horrible graphic designers and 3D modelers, except to curse that greedy devil who conjured the Nike “Swoosh” from some wretched abyss–sitting in his NYC corner office, eating ambrosia, laughing at the poor souls damned to the purgatory of Etsy, self-publishing, and garage band. If you are an “independent artist” facing Those “…Nights of worry of paying the rent,” might not be so ironic, or worrisome, by simply solving the problem in the same way that majority of the world does. I realize, it probably sounds like madness, but if your bills, the birds, or your children are in that dire of straights maybe it’s time to quit making self portraits with a Light-Bright and get a job.
What really kills me is the idea that art is “A private moment in someones life.” The jig’s up! That art I made and then pasted all over everything on the internet I can find–please respect the fact that was a private moment. It doesn’t matter that it went viral (as was my plan all along), you’re very lucky you saw it. Just remember, it was a private moment, that means it wasn’t really for you, it was for me. Nevermind that it sold for $10,000.00 to the King of Monaco; you need to respect the privacy of an artist’s work. In fact, that price tag I put on it? It really should never have been there, but hey I’m forced to put it there right? Otherwise you’re going to find me in some boarded up shanty eating my own pastels and making paint brushes from my beard hair. I don’t have any other choice. (By the way, Isn’t this the textbook definition of selling out)?
Sentimentalism, especially in the arts is a mask which tries to hide the trap of being defined by what you do -to have no real identity while excusing acting like a poser. Like I said, if you really read the subtext of fluffy little treasures like the one above, you soon realize it’s just a sales pitch, and in this case one that almost makes artists sound like charity cases. Buy art because it’s good art or because it makes you feel or experience something. Buy it because you appreciate it. Don’t cop out to the first guy that tries to tell you his bird skeleton made from toenail clippings are art just because he’s passionate. Passion for the idea of creating and passion to create, and do it well, are two totally different things.