Living creative in a “product (oriented?) -ive” world

As a creative person who works in many media, including drawing and painting, sculpture and cartooning as well as writing, I consider myself on the “supply side” of things.  This is an especially strong feeling when I attend conventions that relate to the medias and genres I focus on.  At SF conventions, I’m mentally aligned with the writers and artists, not the fans, though I have many friends who are fans.  That’s where I started out, as have all writers and artists.  Same with comic book cons.  I’m one of the creators of the material the public comes to see and/or buy.  I’m comfortable in that role.  I do admire other writer’s and artist’s work and sometimes buy them (when I can afford to).

However, outside those environments, I am forced to sit in the peanut gallery, with the “demand side” of the economy.  Yes I am a consumer, and outside of my art and writing, there are a huge number of things I need that I can’t or am unable to produce for myself practically.

This role I’m forced to play would not be as uncomfortable as it is if it were not for the attitude of the supply side people who inhabit the upper floor offices of corporations.  As consumers, we are looked at as a means to an end — their bottom line.  If the environment we have to live in, breathe and work in is polluted and poisoned, pfa! it’s the cost of doing business.  The rivers that flow past even moderate sized cities are unfit to drink from, and the fish taken out of them are unfit to eat.  We are the collateral damage in the battle for the almighty bottom line that the executives do battle for.

I have not  really been politicized much since our argument  against the Viet Nam war in the sixties and early seventies, but the reports coming out of Washington and Wall Street vex me like little has since the old days.  I believe we were clear-seeing in our assessment of Viet Nam as an unjust war, though we believed that World War two was well justified on any moral ground one could occupy.  The draft board didn’t see it that way; if we were against Viet Nam, we should be against all wars to be classified as a conscientious objector, and the distinction of one war being just and another unjust was not seen as rational by the board.  Oh, well.  I am surprised there aren’t any protests against the current mid-east wars (police actions, really) until I realize that there is no longer a draft, and no one enlists against their wills.

As a creative person in this economic/political environment, I feel marginalized and undervalued.  “It must be so much fun to create such interesting paintings/novels/political cartoons that you shouldn’t be paid its value since you must enjoy it so much.  It looks like play and play shouldn’t be rewarded.”  Then there’s the fact that a weak economy abandons the arts in the schools and, outside of entertainment, art sales plummet.  Traditional dead tree publishers are feeling the growth pains of e-publishing and that crimps their old ways of business.  The writer has to scramble for alternative markets while the old time publishers scramble to maintain the bottom line.

I don’t see any change in this trend toward valuing business sense and devaluing creative thinking.


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