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The death of a true artist

Caravaggio, Saint Jerome Writing, oil on canvas, 112 cm × 157 cm, c. 1605–06.

The meaning of being creative has been bastardized and manipulated for so long that it is not seen as a real profession. It is seen as a cheap way to make money, rather than what it truly is, a creative outlet to experience different things and create worlds and experiences that we all get to partake in; it is no longer seen as something that evokes emotion and critical thought. That has less to do with the profession itself, but with the conversation surrounding it and the current mainstream creatives. The mainstream is overflowing with white twenty-year-olds who are the poster children of mediocrity and privilege.

The idea that people are creating art has been phased out, now they are creating content. Content at its very core is soulless and lifeless, devoid of any real meaning. Content has to be far-reaching and general enough to capture the largest audience. There is no personality or authenticity in the content that is being created. As someone who uses a medium to create art, there must be a deep reverence for that art form and extensive knowledge of it. It would be nonsensical for a writer to never have read or consumed the genre that they write in the same way that it would be nonsensical for a singer to not understand music theory or listen to music. There is a baseline that is established with every form and many people bypass it to get to the creation. There is a long process before creation can begin and it is disingenuous to act as if it is unnecessary or say that demanding the preliminary work be done is gatekeeping. If that is the case, then perhaps we should gatekeep. A true artist never stops learning and developing; a true artist is someone who respects their craft and dives wholly into it in order to understand it at a fundamental level.

Four artists whose reverence for their craft is very apparent are Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Park Chan-wook and Toni Morrison. All of them are deeply in love with their respective craft and it shows through the careful way they select which pieces of their art and themselves to share with the public. Their excellence came from years of work, research, and self-reflection. It is important to note that this should not be seen as their work being perfect. Perfection has little place in art since it is unattainable, but the aforementioned artists are intentional with their work. Unfortunately, this has been lost.

Everything is so mediocre and middling and it is due to the sole fact that there is no critical thought or intention behind what is being created. Some prevail in their mediocrity, propelled by ego, creative inertia and public praise. Instant gratification seems to be more important than creating something that moves people. This death of the true artist is exacerbated by the anti-intellectualism which invades creative spaces. Whether it is literature, film, music, or plays, there is an increased want to take everything at face value.

There is no true creativity anymore. No one wants to challenge ideals and disrupt the common way of thinking. This can be seen through the endless remakes and re-releases of television shows and movies. People are relying on aesthetics and what is popular in the mainstream instead of organic thoughts to conceptualize the art that they would like to make. There is nothing earnest or honest about it all. There are so many people masquerading as writers, musicians and artists, but simply calling yourself that is not enough; you must be educated and actively create what you say. Thinking about it, creating mood boards and making playlists does not amount to creating. The term creating has been removed from the act of creating and is now about the conceptualization of it. 

To be frank, the future of creatives looks bleak. Commodification and consumption have rendered art uninspiring. No longer are people imbuing the general with pain specificity, they are creating things with the lens of relatability. It feels akin to Tumblr shower thoughts or Rupi Kaur poetry (two sides of the same coin but I digress). This faux-intellectual posturing is ruining the creative space and creating a homogenization of art. Original thoughts seem so few and far between that when they occur, there is an inherent distrust and ire directed at them. We must remove ourselves from nostalgia and the need for instant gratification. We must remove ourselves from a consumer mindset, and a content-creator mindset and return to the idea of cultivating and crafting something with passion. 

We must reignite the passion for creating, passion for art and passion for others and the world that we live in. We must hold a little more reverence for the creatives that came before us and offer guidance to those that will come after us. We need to start holding ourselves and others to a higher standard to reignite the art renaissances of the past. We need art to be alive. The death of a true artist means the death of art and the death of humanity.

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