Monday, January 26, 2015

risk



Every professional artist is an entrepreneur, and takes immense risk. Why? Because the alternativea life spent grinding away at some "job," fulfilling someone else's dreams and accomplishing someone else's goalsseems an even scarier proposition.

So I've been working on this kickstarter campaign where I made a puzzle out of my re-painted Thomas Kinkade painting—the one with the demons in the shadows, and whatnot. At the bottom of the "story" portion of the campaign they have you fill out a section on the risks of the project. 

Here's what I wrote: 

"The Kinkade family could find out about this and decide to be meany-pants by filing some sort of injunction. This would of course be legally groundless (appropriation is a time-honored artistic tradition, and current 'fair use' law allows for this sort of appropriation for purposes of parody), but we do live in a world where the little guy sometimes gets crushed."

Now, this is a risk I don't have to take. But I really do like this painting of mine, and I really do believe it says some things about art and art consumption that I think are worth shoving out further into the public consciousness. 

Furthermore, of all the pictures-of-mine that could potentially catch fire with the kickstartering public, this is it. There are a lot of folks out there who roll their eyes at their parent's kitschy art, and something like this could really get some social-media attention. I know this. I also know that the better my campaign does, the more likely it is that it will come to the attention of the Kinkade family—a family that makes a lot of money off the departed painter's work. If they happen to be having a bad day, they could decide to crush me. And they'd win, too, because I don't have the money to fight back. 

Crushing me would be a silly (and mean-spirited) thing for them to do.

After the very public and not-particularly-saintly story of Thomas Kinkade's tragic early death, sales of his work actually skyrocketed, and are now going stronger than ever. People don't care that he didn't fit the pasteurized story his work was trying to tell, and it's extremely unlikely that my little puzzle experiment would do anything to affect sales. In fact, shutting me down would only draw more attention to something that will fade and disappear in a dusty corner of the internet, long before Kinkade is forgotten. 

Which won't matter to me, because I'll be bleeding out in the corner—crushed.

I'm going to do it, though. 

Why?

Partially, I think, it's the foolish optimism of youth. But I think it's also me, wanting to take a risk that would not only express something I think is important, but could also buy me a bit more writing time. Also... um... down with the man, amiright?

I don't want to get crushed. 

But I just finished watching JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, which is this fascinating documentary about one of the greatest movies never made. In it, Jodorowsky shares about the feeling of having his long-time dream crushed after years and years of labor. He smiles. He laughs. He talks about moving on and saying "What's next?" 

So I'm going to do it. 

There's a risk of being crushed, yes. 

But that's art.

That's life. 

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