Art Vs. Artist

I’ve seen and heard a lot of talk of this subject in my little bubble of the Internet lately and I have thoughts. Or questions? We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

The biggest question we face in regards to art and consuming art is ‘can we separate the art from the artist?’ This is such a relevant topic because as the human race continues to grow and learn, we’re recognizing how terrible some artist are on a basic level. This creates the issue of if you support their art, you’re in turn supporting them and then by default, you’re supporting their actions. Or that’s the question, isn’t it? Can you separate the problematic things someone does from the beauty they create? Can something really be so wonderful if they came from something terrible?

Let’s look at our options.

Option #1 – We separate the two. We are able to see something for what it is, not for who was behind it. Fair enough. I would not like to be seen as my failures, so realistically, I shouldn’t be defined by successes either? Or rather, my successes should not be seen as me.

Maybe this is flawed. Is success not the very thing we aim for so that people can recognize us. We shy away from failure because we know that it isn’t the best we are capable of. Is notoriety also seen as success? Is just getting your name out there anyway you can, the best way?

Option #2 – We don’t. We recognize that these artist are bad people and we stop giving them their ten seconds of fame. We feel better about the art we consume with an assumed knowledge of the person it came from. I would say this is equivalent to vegetarianism. You want to be more ethical and you understand the benefits of cutting something out of your life. You understand that it isn’t going to remove all of the, in this case, meat and animal byproducts from the world but you feel better about yourself.

Is this mindset also wrong? What do we lose by not seeing art for what it is? Do we lose experience and knowledge? Are we able to learn from the mistakes and wrongdoings of our artistic predecessors and in turn be better for it? Can we look at art objectively and still understand that it’s artist is problematic?

I believe these are the debates that will always remain unanswered. There are many of valid points on either side that it is going to be based on your personal opinion and morals to find what is right for you. Although I have not found an answer for myself, I firmly believe that you should not be bullied into picking one over the other. I find them both equally right and wrong.

What about artist that are seemingly not problematic. Obviously I’m saying that rather generally because we don’t know all of the personal lives of artists and also, no one is perfect. Is it more harmful to look at something that a person created and automatically like it because their name is attached to it? Is it our responsibility as consumers to look at art regardless of creator and decide if it’s good or not? Does this contribute to the debate? If we like something just because of a name then we should in turn dislike art for it’s name as well.

What if these people are your friends and colleagues? We realize that we can’t just say we like everything our friends create. We know that is detrimental to their art so we do our best to give constructive criticism to help them make it better and better. There are things we consume that we might not like for any number of reasons that may not even include the quality of the art. Do we just automatically list that as bad, or can we look at objectively and determine that, although it’s not for us, it is still good?

As artists can we separate ourselves from what we make? In a way, what we’ve created is who we are and if someone doesn’t like it, they may not like you? Yet we also know that we are not our creations and that means if someone doesn’t like what we’ve put into the world, we know it isn’t just us that they don’t like. What is the balance?

What are your thoughts about this? Do you put things on a black list because of the name attached to it, or do you separate the art from the artist? What are some suggestions you have for people who might have fallen in love with something before knowing the person behind it? Do you take criticism personally or can you take a hit? Leave your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to reading it.

Here are some videos that inspired this video:
Bad at being bad, The Art of The Asshole, Vulnerable pt 1, and pt 2, and pt 3?, is art separate from the artist


One Comment Add yours

  1. Art stands on its own merit, I think. Good art is good art, bad art is bad art. I do think that in general though we see that good people make good art. Yeah I mean there are those serial killers and psychopaths who make a few doodles and painting that sell for hundreds of thousands, but I feel that’s because of morbid fascination. ‘Own something by someone who ate his victims’. Doesn’t add value or merit.
    I’m okay saying art earns its reputation on its own, separate from the artist. I only struggle with it when it comes to interpretation. Like, imagine how powerless you must feel as a creator when people COMPLETELY misinterpret your work to support their own agenda. Then what can you do? Then I feel bad but I still don’t think the artist can have much say. The moment you put your work out there into the world you sacrifice it to everyone for everyone’s use. You try to be as specific and as purposeful as you can but ultimately, people be cray. I would like to imagine JD Salinger’s last words were ‘sometimes a stupid red hat is just a stupid red hat’!

    Liked by 1 person

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