the creative life

This morning I received another email in the marketing blitz for a popular
bundled experience from an online art school.
Their classes are good — not great but good — and popular —
however, there are amazing teachers teaching art all over the internet…

Something about this marketing blitz keeps bothering me:
I have spent a week mulling it over and trying to put it into words.

I think they are really selling a well-heeled and privileged community…
A club that you must belong to in order to get the latest greatest info on becoming an artist… and now there are levels of privilege, based on $$$!
This bothered me because of the marketing lingo,
combined with an whopping monthly price tag with each level allowing you
into a higher level of the “club,” coupled with an implication that any
amount of money that can put you on the path to a happy life is a worth it…
which implies that if you believe in yourself you will fork over the dough.

Their phrasing is indicative of a privileged life,
which I am beginning to explore in a heightened way.
The extremely peaceful BLM movement locally, which I watch every night,
discusses this, and it has raised questions among my old friends
from Laguna Beach High School, a great growing up experience,
as well as new friends in the art community.  I grew up lower middle class,
as did my best friend, and yet at the time in Laguna Beach there was little class distinction.  It was an extremely creative community based on
inexpensive past-times… swimming, volleyball, being creative.

Beaded sequined textile by Yves Telemak which I had the pleasure of conserving.

I was living the creative life then, and moved into a plausible creative profession in architecture on scholarship — and this is where class distinction began to be a division.
I didn’t make the cut for some social interactions at University
because I was a scholarship kid.

But I did make the creative cut.
Creativity does not recognize money, just results…
though I will freely admit that having to make money can limit the time one might
have to be creative…. but it can also push you toward good subject matter!
**i often make my art late at night because I run a full-time business!**

The daily emails they send continued to imply that you should invest in yourself
as an artist — and I certainly believe that so that is hard to argue with that idea —
but the minimum $$$/month was high when you can take an excellent class with talented experienced artists through other places at $14-25.
There is something about this framing that is very slick marketing —
I think back to EST in the 80’s — and THAT is what is bothering me about it.
Maybe especially at this time in our lives, with so many out of work and struggling,
the price tag combined with their phrasing kept nagging at me… reminding me of self-help promoters who shame people into forking over monies they don’t have over guilt…
To be good, to be cool, to support yourself you have to do THIS or
maybe you don’t care so much about your art.

Textile art by Ken Ellis which I had the privileged of conserving… These materials are not expensive, and Ken made art about what he knew.

Shame and guilt have no place in teaching art.
*btw same is true for so many stupid rules that art teachers throw at you*
Inspiration and example, technique and opening doors —
this is what art teachers should be doing for you, and yes, teachers have to
make a good living too, but they should do so without shame or trying to make
you think you have to do this to sit at the cool kids table!

Making art is not about privilege… some of the greatest art was and is made by poor people and working folks, and expresses struggles and joy and real issues.

Real life.

Now, however, art and the creative life has become more and more
marketed until it has distorted into a commodity… “the art life”…
replete with the idea of an inner circle, often done with marketing phrases that imply that the inner circle is getting the real goods, and so the implication still is that you will be missing out of some special information on a lesser tier.

This is my two cents on the subject.  Be wary when someone begins to twist you into thinking that you have to do this or that to be a real creative…
Be wary when the price of admission is so high that it becomes a trade-off between necessities (food and shelter) and following your passion…
Or they imply that you’d come up with the goods if you really cared.
Remember that artists come in all shapes and financial abilities,
and might be raising kids, holding down full time jobs, or struggling financially.
You can make art with simple materials and little training…
and many of the school gurus are merely going to teach you to be small versions of themselves, not bring out the artist that you have inside you with
the singular creative bit that you have to offer… YOU!

Look instead to take classes from the artist whose work you really love…
The one who is going to share techniques with you, and has the ability to inspire you to be the best YOU, not a mini version of themselves.
Look for those that charge a fair price for their time,
and think about how the classes are structured to give you maximum information.

To read a bit about Ken Ellis and our conservation project, read this.
To read a bit about the conservation of Yves Telemak’s Madonna read this.

To hear about classes, follow me on Instagram, Facebook
or check out my new, improved

About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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4 Responses to the creative life

  1. CC Peyton says:

    This happens to me all the time! One woman actually emailed me and asked why I hadn’t taken up he offer! I wrote back I had cancer and wouldn’t be able to as they conflicted with my treatment times. She actually wrote back and apologized! I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to write the first email! I think some people are desperate. Good post Kate!


  2. lois says:

    Good advice, Katie. A lot of $$ does not equate to a great class.


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