Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 29, 2014

This Tweet From Cameron Stewart Struck Me As Worth Posting

The further interesting thing about this is that the Internet provides only curious, limited ways to discuss what Stewart tweeted -- most likely as some sort of argument to be defeated through counter-example and insinuation, but also by others as a confirmation of an expected circumstance, reposted with a "what are you going to do" world-weary look on one's face. Something potentially interesting just a few steps further down the line from that non-discussion is that many of the people who looked at this will conceive of themselves as having paid for that by the act of spending the time to look at it. It's too bad there's not a place to figure this stuff out a bit; it's a bunch of intriguing notions all brought to a head.

What scares me about this kind of thing isn't that people should buy Stewart's work because they liked an on-line version they saw, or even that people should have to pay for something that Stewart put on-line to be seen, but that we're beginning to craft a model for consumption of art that is based even more significantly on factors other than that art's merit than was true with the model being replaced. This includes the artist being able to make an appeal on some level that they are a good person worth supporting. This is basically celebrity culture, straight-up, with an accommodation for new artists as a kind of generic "new artist celebrity," an assumed meritocracy argument for corporate-sponsored art, and an expectation that it's on the artist to make clear the terms of sale. Yikes.

I am all for artists being realistic about the options they have and figuring out a course of action that best benefits themselves, but I do worry by focusing on that end of things we allow a set of assumptions to become calcified in a way that won't serve effective art and fairly-compensated artists in the long run.

Then again, perhaps the lesson to be learned is a much more practical one.
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink

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