So, selling art without selling your soul. It's not impossible. But it does require a different approach. A really different approach.
Creating art that reflects who you are - your soul's uniqueness and unique expression - is hard these days. We're overwhelmed and overloaded with imagery and sound. Ad chatter and the continuing absorption and transmission of aesthetic trends generate so much noise in the channel that it's hard to tell what's ours and what isn't. These days, most people assemble their "uniqueness" from a menu of pop-culture themes and trinkets - a little punk here, a little hip-hop, a dash of hipster, a drop of steam punk, and a few carefully collected images and works from your favorite entertainers, pundits, artists, etc. - and voila! You've assembled yourself - like a pop-culture Mr. or Ms. Potato Head. If you're a master of self-denial - and most of us are - you will eventually come to believe all these pop-culture components are actually you. It doesn't help that so much of today's pop-culture touts itself as some sort of rebellion. Independence is a commodity these days - rebellion and individuality has become an ad gimmick. Be a Rebel - buy my crap. Be an individual - customize your cell phone, pick a ringtone, drive a Scion, pimp your MySpace page.
But you're not one of those people, are you? No. You reject everything that pop-culture has to offer. You make your own clothes. You eat and drink organic. You don't wear makeup. You never listen to anything from a major label. You care about the environment. You hate the government, Top 40, television, radio, and everything square. You REALLY ARE an individual. Keep saying that over and over again. But realize that you have joined the ranks of a growing number of individuals that look, sound, talk and live just like you do. Maybe that's a good thing. Or maybe it's just the flip side of the appropriation machine - its soft, supple, sweet-smelling evil twin. Maybe all the bases really are covered. Maybe all the exits are actually entrances to another corridor. Maybe you're still in the maze.
One thing is for certain - that subtle, gnawing emptiness remains.
Your art, meanwhile, becomes a reflection of this pop-Frankenstein you've assembled. Or it becomes an attempt at reflecting what you think other people might want to see - or might be willing to pay to see or listen to or read.
So, what's a soul to do?
Here's the first step: - Media Fast. Stop looking, stop listening, and stop absorbing as much as you can. And stay off the damn computer. You will be terrified by the silence, I promise. Spend a week completely alone with your thoughts. If you can't afford the time, set aside an hour or two every day to be completely alone with no distractions. Just observe what a chaotic maelstrom of weirdness your thoughts are. Every time some pop star or cultural authority creeps in, force your mind to go somewhere else. Childhood memories are good replacement fodder.
Even better than being completely alone, spend some time with people you love, and avoid all conversations relating to work, culture, art, politics, etc. See if you can do it. I promise it will be a challenge. Note the empty space created when these subjects are removed from your conversational palette. Now, fill that space with something else. If you can.
Joe Malik is a jaded, ornery, "power to the people type" that can't help but comment on all the stupid and or questionable stuff he sees within the arts community. The Volcano doesn't always agree with what he says, they just like to stir the pot.