Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Where Have All Artists Gone? Part 1, Was it easier back then?

At the risk of sounding like a sentimental old man with recounted tales of the good old days, let me deflate the notion instantly.

First, the good old days were anything but. Pick any decade and really think about the condition of the world, our country and you'll know that times have never been any better, or any worse than they are right now. These are the good old days. These are the days, and they will continue to be the good days until the last day. Also, there we have just as many freedoms along with just as many distractions now than we ever had.

But I do have to wonder if it was easier to just be an artist way back when. I suppose I should define way back when and I should describe the zeitgeist. For the sake of this post, I will classify back then as the world in analog (before say the W administration).

The two obvious reason why I suspect it was easier to be an artist in the past are: the cost of living was lower and digital distractions simply did not exist to the extent they do now. I feel terrible for college kids nowadays because the cost of education has skyrocketed and I feel like the workforce has been devalued. I mean twenty years ago I paid my tuition with cash (about a grand a semester) and I was making $14 an hour changing lightbulbs. The lightbulb changing gig now pays half what I made twenty years ago and the price of tuition has gone up at least six fold. It's not fair.

Likewise, being an artist has got to have the same sort of return. If rents are what they are and paychecks are low as I know them to be, more work has to get done in order to just pay the bills. Then enter the other bills. We have cellphones and internet service—these are two bills you just didn't have in the analog days. Sure, there was probably a phone piped into the house, but it didn't cost nearly so much. It was also not nearly as engrossing. The old phone on the wall, when it rang, that's what it did and you stood there to have a conversation.

I suppose all I really mean is that the cost of living and the choices we all make with the services we have that seem to be a necessity may have an affect on where our energy goes. After all, if you lived in a small room somewhere with no phone, internet and had a shelf of books, wouldn't you read?

The other side of the where are the artists question come to me now as I think about the internet. The internet, the very thing I feel has hampered creativity has also unleashed more creativity on the world. If you want to see artists at work, Google them. There are more artists than ever. They just may not be in your town.

Do you have artists in your town?

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