Let me have some real talk time with you guys. I've held off on this post for a cool minute because I never wanted this blog to be political. However, I feel this is something that isn't discussed as much as it should be. I've had a few conversations with people on this topic but they always ended up getting really argumentative on both ends rather than constructive. I want to extend some of my ideas and thoughts on the whole idea of art vs. artist vs. person though because I feel like people don't really understand the difference, so what better way than this blog?
Ima start off by saying I am not here to say that anyone is right or wrong in the way they think or feel towards artists they listen to, or artists in the media. You can and should listen to whoever you want to. As well as, NOT listen to whoever you choose not to listen to.
what does Art vs. ARTist. vs. Person even mean?
I used to tell people I think we should separate art from artist, and ill explain why in the next subheading, but there's another level to this that I think people have neglected looking at, myself included. Let me try to break this down simply. Artists create art. Thats easy to understand. Plain and simple. But where does everything else come in? Where do all the life choices, the mental illnesses, the personalities, the interactions, the political views, etc fall under? Are they a part of the ART, ARTist, or PERSON.
I can choose to paint a picture of someone being murdered. I (as a PERSON) am going to paint (as an ARTist) a picture of someone being murdered (the art)
1) Does that choice (as an artist) make me a murderer (as a person)? 2) Am I a bad person for painting that? 3) Is someone bad for appreciating the skills of the painting itself (the art)? 3a) What if the painting (the art) isn't even skillfully painted? 4) Is someone stupid for still liking it (the art) even if its not skillfully painted (by the artist) 5) Am I a fake artist because I painted something i've never experienced or done?
1- As an artist I created art from the perspective of a murderer. As a person, no i'm not a murderer for that.
2- All I did was paint it. As an artist, I painted it. So no, i'm not bad person for painting that.
3- The painting was beautifully painted. The colors, the textures, the brushstrokes, the depth, the detail, were all well executed. Thats undeniable. So no, someone is not bad for appreciating the skills of the painting itself.
a) It doesn't have to be skillfully painted. I wanted to paint it and I may not be good at it but I still wanted to do it, so I did.
4- People can like my painting even if i suck at painting. Different strokes for different folks. One mans trash is another mans treasure. Sometimes we relate to chaos because we too, are chaotic. Sometimes we like things for no good reason, so no they're not stupid for still liking it.
5- Being an artist doesn't always mean your art is a part of you. As an artist, I want to show people how real things can be. Even if i haven't done/experienced it, as a person, i'm not naive to it. So no, i'm not a fake artist because I painted something i've never experienced or done before.
Each question and answer shows how easily we can confuse all three: art, artist and person.
Should we separate an artist from their art?
Separation of art and artist comes down to being able to differentiate talent and personal liking. The separation of art and artist is being able to accept that 1) ARTISTS are creatives and 2) Art is completely and utterly subjective.
Oftentimes, we're set on the idea that artists need to remain the same to be a good artist. That they have to upkeep a certain image, or stick to a certain vibe. It's unsettling and confusing for us to watch artists making constant shifts in styles. However, that is one of the beauties of art. It CAN always change, and it does. Some art can be horrible to one person, but life-changing for another. I think that we can like artists as a whole, or we can like some of the art that an artist puts out. I also think we can not like an artist as a whole, but still like some of the art they put out. I respect Kendrick Lamar as an artist, but I don't like his art. I'm not particularly fond of his music. So there I make a separation of Kendrick as an artist and Kendricks art. I don't disregard Kendricks musical accomplishments or his influence simply because his art doesn't hit home for me. I shouldn't say I don't like Kendrick Lamar if I simply don't like Kendrick Lamars music.
I love Travis Scott as an artist. I love the way he dresses, I love his shows, his performances, his vibe. Travis Scott as an ARTIST is a songwriter, singer, rapper, and producer. But do I always love his rapping? No. Do I always think he has the best songwriting? No. Do I think every song is good? No. I understand each piece of his art he puts out, isn't everything he is as an artist.
Should we separate an artist from a person?
I do think we need to take a step back and really look at how we differentiate an artist from a person. I had been thinking about this for a couple of months now. Mostly around the time 6ix9ine started gaining traction in the music industry. His entire presence was automatically overshadowed by the drama stirred up around him over the accusations of sexual misconduct. Im not really going to get into that too deeply, for multiple reasons. One being, I honestly don't know all the facts around it. That being said, Im not going to speak on it as if I know what did happen, what didn't happen, who did what, who didn't do what, etc. Another reason being I want to show that his choices as a person don't directly relate to music he's making as an artist.
My bf was always singing GUMMO and I just took it as a joke all the time, didn't take it seriously at all. Then I took the time to actually listen to his music on my own because I pretty much do that with all music. I'm not even gonna lie I actually sorta liked it hahaha but I didn't even understand why. At the time, I wasn't keeping up with any media news at all so I didn't really know about all the legal stuff going on with him. But, for some reason this guys rainbow hair, 69 plastered, loud self really didn't allow me to take him or his music seriously, aside from having a guilty pleasure for it. Within time, it was undoubtedly taboo to like 6ix9nine BECAUSE of all the criminal charges. So for a cool minute I denied myself any enjoyment of his music. However, it really got me thinking. It was such a huge deal. Everyone was talking about him, hating his every move, just slandering him to the ground. It confused me how his numbers were doing so incredibly well, despite everyone claiming and refusing to listen to anything he put out, so as to not support "a person like him". I slowly started admitting to my secret liking of his music to people. And to my surprise... I soon began having people admit the same thing to me because I was open about how I felt instead of slandering him. Arguing or discussing this topic with people rubs them the wrong way. I've been seen as this "bad" person for supporting a "bad" person. When, enjoying someones music in general has no attachment to any feelings towards the person themselves. Simply put, his numbers are doing well because people support the artist more than the person. However, people are denying it because they think supporting the art = supporting the artist = supporting the person. Which isn't true. Art and artist do go hand in hand. And the artist IS the person. But the person isnt ONLY an artist. Supporting an artist can end at that. Supporting the art they're putting out.
The only way I was able to get people to sort of see where I was coming from was by presenting other artists/performers who had been accused/charged of things. Because, let me tell you... there are PLENTY of other people who have done wrong, and their wrongs are or have been overlooked. A friend of mine, Cash (@cashionout - instagram) put it into perspective really well with some of peoples favorites right now.
Although Chris Brown took a lot of hate for what he did years back, people have now looked past it in relation to his art. Many people still refuse to support Chris Brown in any way (both as an artist and as a person) but a good majority have admit he is undoubtedly a talented performer and artist. As a person, he isn't supported, but as an artist, he is. Tay K, is something more current. People LOVE him. Theres a #FreeTayK movement! As an artist, people support him, because they love his music. However as a person, people are split on the support. I think audiences too loosely gauge when artists are "really guilty" or not. Because in reality it isn't whether the artist is guilty or not, it's whether the person is guilty or not. The artist just puts out music. I started to pay a lot more attention to the different scenarios pointing to a similar theme... separation of art, artist, and person. Here are a couple more tweets I thought really painted a good picture (no pun intended):
This argument was a perfect example. I believe there was a painting of Bush's going around on twitter and I took a peek at the responses and there was this conversation above. From what I remember it was a REALLY beautiful painting. I decided to look more into Bush's paintings out of curiosity and I found out more than I expected. Aside from enjoying painting, he had apparently put out a book of stories and portraits he painted. The book is titled "Portraits of Courage", and honors 66 military veterans alongside their portraits. People are able to appreciate his paintings, aside from actions he took as president. Bush wasn't just an artist, but neither was he just a president. People are so quick to shut down actual talent and art because of lack of separation. This whole idea saddens me actually because art is being discredited before even first being RECOGNIZED as art. Talent is getting overlooked because we're letting human mistakes overshadow art independently.
Luka Sabbat (@whoisluka - twitter) made another interesting statement. When the question "is it wrong to support the work of problematic artists?" was begged, Luka used it to start up a really interesting conversation about supporting art without supporting the artist behind it. We're putting a halt to artistic growth in our society because we aren't able to look at art for what it is. We pick, choose, and gauge when its acceptable for us to draw the line. And rightfully so, we get to decide what we listen to. Which is exactly the point. I think choosing to view, listen to, like, dislike, etc, is all a right we have in regards to art itself. Aside from the artists as a whole. Or the people themselves. It runs full circle, even in my personal life. I always try to keep in mind that im no saint. Nor have I always made the best or "right" decisions in life. I can probably have people attest for huge mistakes i've made in my life. But I believe that's life. & if everyone had shut me and my ideas out because of those things, it'd really be upsetting. There are people out there, you, reading what I have to say. Thats a privilege for me to have people willing to listen. Now, although i'd understand if for some reason a person decided to say "i don't like Sofia, so i'm not going to like her blog, despite enjoying what she writes" it just isn't logical. Nor would it be logical for people to expect me to stop exercising my right to express myself however I want on this blog, just because they don't like me or agree with me on a personal level.
I hate to get fake deep but a good majority of artists, USE their art simply as expression. Artists oftentimes use their art as a way to deal with certain emotions or feelings, so suggesting an artist shouldn't have that privilege, is concerning.
Kanyes 'Ye' dropped a few days ago and there were a lot of split responses. I knew that there would be controversy over this album for the fact that theres been a lot of controversy circling around Kanye since he came back to social media. He's written many bold tweets, he's said some concerning statements publicly. I knew there would be a divide between those willing to even listen to this album (and person), and those denying any support of this album (and person). Personally, I think the album was good. Despite being a longtime fan of Kanye and despite how I feel about the things he's said, the album was something I enjoyed. Kanye as an artist, I support. I think as an artist he's really pushed boundaries and implored other artists to explore and express different things and ideas within their art. Kanyes art ('Ye') is also something I support, because I think it's a really beautifully raw album. I think the simplicity of it allows the listener to hone in on their own feelings. I think Kanye as a person made a positive choice in using his platform as an artist to make music others can relate to. I think Kanye as a person also made a positive choice in using his art as something to help him as a person. I think as a PERSON there's a lot to say about him. But there is also a lot to say about him as an ARTIST.
In conclusion, take everything in for what it is. Don't overcomplicate art. Like what you like, dislike what you dislike. Do you boo! Like I said, I'm not here to differentiate right from wrong. I just want people to have more of an open mind when it comes to art itself. I also want people to feel comfortable and okay with making art and appreciating it.