A reply to Mike Dwyer
Mike’s post is here. Since he’s invited reply by posting, here’s my reply:
Up until rather recently I was, and as an adult had never been anything but a commercial artist. By commercial artist I mean that the value of my work was determined by its ability to provide for me, and then at a certain point, for my family. I rejected (very strongly) the idea that artists should devote anytime to explaining themselves or their work. After all, if you have to explain yourself and/or your work, you haven’t done a very good job of making what you make. (Side note: How delightful it is now that people simply enjoy being on Mon Tiki, without knowing even 2% of what goes into making the sausage.)
At any rate, about ten years ago explaining myself became tantamount; far more important than the work I made. It was tantamount because 1) Explanations were a good form of marketing, and; 2) because if I didn’t have the right explanations for why I made the films I made and and what they meant, there was a nontrivial possibility that I’d go to jail and/or have my house and other assets confiscated by the state. So I started explaining — and once I started explaining myself I found it was very, very, very hard to stop.
Mid-summer, keeping up correspondence with someone who has been both a mentor and supporter of my “efforts” (whatever they may be…) I wrote the following:
I have hardly any awareness of The News right now. I’m simply working too much to have the time to keep up, or even care. When I did keep up and care it was because I thought I might get something for my efforts, that somehow “knowing what was going on and having an opinion about it” would further my ambitions as an artist. I suspect my experience now of being largely ignorant of The News is more the norm for most people. This feels vaguely related to your American Futures work, and in a positive way, but I can’t flesh it out more than that.
Now, with some time on my hands between putting Mon Tiki to bed and building Mon Tiki Largo there is some time and space for expression. To what end? Who knows, but knowing that there’s no percentage in it, not for me, not in the life I’m living, makes it easier. I have, and have always had, the urge to express myself. And as long as the benefits to me and my family (however negligible) are not outweighed by the costs, I will continue.
Also, dig this. just this weekend I found a really good tutorial for Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” on ukulele. This is going to kill on Mon Tiki Largo next summer!