Age of the Wanna-Be

We live in an age of artists. Everybody wants to be creative. We all want to paint, to write, to craft. None of us want to be fit into the round holes that were made for us. We all want to be unique, be butterflies with our very own set of wings.

Problem is: when we all got wings, nobody is unique.

That’s what existentialism has done to art, to writing, to the craft. Right now I sit watching Basquiat, a biopic of a painter in the early 80s living in New York, who made what he called “ignorant art.” I am sipping a glass of Stone Brewing Co.’s Double Bastard Ale, a microbrew. I look around my apartment and a gift from one of my friends catches my eye: a framed photo; one of my own. Everyone wants to be an artist, even me.

We all want to be famous. We want people to look at us and say “Wow, that’s neat! You’re really creative.” In reality, it’s watered everything down for those who really are creative.

Even what I’m writing is nothing new. Artists, critics, professors, everyday Joes who have blogs like me have been saying this for at least 30 years now. Art is dead. Music is dead. Writing is dead. So what’s the point?

Why do I write?

Why draw?

Why craft?

“Well,” some of you might say, “it’s because the human race was meant to create.”

Yes, yes we are, but are ALL of us meant to create? Is everyone an artist? is everyone a writer, an artisan with a skilled trade?

This is the age of the wanna-be. We have elevated our artists, our writers, our painters, to the status of gods. It’s now trendy to look down our nose at business men and women. They aren’t creative. They’re part of the system. Why should anyone acknowledge their accomplishments?

What we’re doing is cheapening art. We’re making it what we don’t want it to be. Artists once suffered, once had difficulty being recognized for what they were. Now, as Andy Warhol once said, we can all be famous for 15 minutes, whether you’re a McDonald’s worker, a patient transporter, a pastor, or a mailman. Be whatever profession you want; it’s not who you really are. Fortunately, our identities are no longer tied to our jobs (I’d probably kill myself if that we’re the case), but we really want to believe we’re more interesting than that.

Talk about self-absorption.

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