The Atlantic recently published an article (The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur) and a response (The Artist Endures) that piqued our interest here at Punkt. The original article by William Deresciewicz (personal website) brazenly heralds the “death of the artist” — instead, says Deresciewicz, we now have “creators,” makers concerned with their networks and branding more than with the creation of art.
In his response, Robinson Meyer (@yayitsrob) casts Deresciewicz as a bit of curmudgeon, pointing out the benefits of technology networks as a democratizing distribution platform. After all, who doesn’t want to live in a world where everyone “can explore the breadth of human expression?”
While Deresciewicz and Meyer deal with the effects the internet is having on the way artists create, we’d like to focus on the idea of what it means to build an artist website — after all, that’s how we spend our own non-art-making time.
In the original article, Deresciewicz rattles off a list of activities the web makes possible (to paraphrase: hawking CDs, raising money on Kickstarter, testing distribution models, etc.), but he isn’t he missing the point?
In our view, the “Web” allows the artist to interact with their audience in a gatekeeper-free zone. For the price of an entree at Olive Garden, any artist (or creator or maker or craftsperson or artisan or whatever) can present themselves to the world as they see fit.
Deresciewicz dismissively calls the fundamental relationship between an artist and the world “creator-to-customer,” but we see it as a democratized relationship between the…
- composer and commissioner
- ensemble and funder
- performer and collaborator
- band and listener
- artist and gallery
- author and critic
In short, the web empowers “creator-to-audience” relationships.
Is that a change from the world Wordsworth and Coleridge lived in? You bet. Isn’t it an improvement for the artist to have the power to participate in these conversations worldwide? We certainly think so. Is building an artist website going to cause artists to focus less on their art? We doubt it.
In Meyer’s words, “websites aren’t all about personal branding. They make artistic output available to people who never would have had the chance to see them. They expand access.” We couldn’t agree more.
In fact, expanding access to your artistic output can be as simple as dragging some audio files into a browser window — Soundcloud will turn it into a list of works that’s accessible by a single link on any internet-enabled device known to humankind.
That’s a great start, but there’s so much more potential.
To connect creator to audience effectively on the internet, you can either a) spend loads of time learning how to build a fantastic artist website and exercise complete control over your aesthetic presence online, or b) work with someone awesome to help make it happen. (We happen to know some folks…)
No matter how you build it, a great artist website does exactly that: it connects the artist to their audience in a personal, meaningful way. If you want to call that branding, fine — we think of it more as dressing for success.