October 17, 2018

Food for Thought

Being different is not the same as being yourself. You can be different and not be yourself, and vice versa. In commercial arts, like fashion, graphic design, advertising, and even food, the goal is mostly about being different, as in Apple’s imperative, “Think Different.” Why? Because your products would not be viable as a business if there is no following. Commercial arts require your products to be different but not too different. If they are so different that only you can appreciate it, by definition, it cannot be “commercial.” Even when a cutting-edge fashion designer creates something no one has ever seen before, what she implies in her artistic gesture is “Follow me.” Without the followers, she would have no value as a fashion designer. Commercial arts must always play on the herd mentality.

From this perspective, fine art has a fundamentally different goal; it is to be yourself regardless of the herd. It is a process of self-discovery. However, this does not mean that you should lock yourself up in a basement and do nothing but paint. You cannot discover yourself in this way because knowing about yourself is inexplicably tied to understanding the world; you have to engage the Other.

An artist has no desire or need for followers; she just wants to understand herself and the world. And, she has no urge to differentiate herself from others. If her self happens to be the same as others, that’s fine too. Just as she wants to be herself, she wishes others to be themselves. She doesn’t want them to follow her. Becoming a leader is not her concern.

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