Struggles of an Artist Series: Part I

What if…there was an organization called the International Artists Association, or something like that?

And that organization was dedicated to speaking out and protecting creative people of all types.

Whether you were a musician signed to a label, or an actor just starting out, or an overworked animator…

The organization would speak publicly in your defense to protect you, and create guidelines to help you live healthier.

I started thinking something like that recently. It’s not that it’s my first time noticing issues, or discussing them with my friends, but I suppose I got fed up with it.

I remember a while back, there was this controversy with Dragon Age 2. One of the characters had changed drastically thanks to his new storyline and new writer. The character went from comic relief to a source of tension and drama. The change made logical sense to me considering the storyline, and I felt it added a lot of depth and brought so much to the game.

Did I like the character less now? Perhaps if I was treating him as a friend, yes. I wouldn’t have really liked to be his friend and hang out. But as a character? I thought he was brilliant and well written and the new writer did a great job of fleshing him out in a relevant way to the game.

However, I heard things like the writer got death threats, against her and her family, simply for changing this character. It was horrible, it was an experience she didn’t deserve for simply trying to express her creativity. I felt terrible about it. I knew that people were thinking very simply.

Only seeing that something they liked had been changed. They weren’t thinking at all about the artistic creativity or integrity of the matter. They didn’t understand nor did they want to understand, and they terrorized and bullied this poor woman because of it.

There’s many such stories like that in history, though. I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was bullied into reviving Sherlock, whom he had killed off. To me, as an artist, the worst thing that can happen to artistry is that it is controlled by other people.

It’s fair enough to hate or not like a thing, but the moment you start trying to control someone else’s art, or worse - attack them personally - you need to take a step back and consider what you think you’re going to achieve and why you think it’s okay.

I wondered if an organization like that could have helped those artists. At the very least, it could have spoken out in defense. Artists are so often completely alone, abandoned by their companies to fend for themselves, and bullied through social media into bending to entitled fan’s wills.

I feel that it’s so tragic because it takes away the joy of creating away from the artist, and they are punished simply for trying to share their talents with the world. In the end, any product that was gotten through bullying would be empty and hollow at best, the original spirit of the artist crushed by the desires of others.

It happens to every artist of every type too. From world famous celebrities to fan artists. And it’s because of the entitled culture that believe that artists exist only to serve the desires of others.  

If you think of how jesters entertained kings in palaces, we can see that people have long demanded others to amuse them and alleviate the weariness of life. Art provides a way to do this, but when others try to assert their wills into the creative process or personal lives of the artists, art can no longer maintain its integrity. And sensitive artists lose their wills to create.

This kind of toxic culture is the death of any innovation in art, and sometimes the death of the artist themselves. It gives a sentiment of “This is why we can’t have nice things.” In order for culture to grow and be preserved, art must exist.

It’s the problem I want to address. And I think that understanding of both sides must come first before real change can happen.

So I want to start talking about the struggles of artists in this series of blogs, in order to help them not feel alone and help others understand what they go through.