Against the Rising Tide of Artistic Conformity

feudal systemThe arts as such no longer exist in the public sector. They have given way to entertainment. The only new art that exists right now is that which is created and passed around privately, not picked up by publishers, dealers and recording execs. It is still being created, but has gone sub rosa once again. It must do from time to time, for that is where it grows best, not in theaters, concert halls, or gallery walls. The arts have always followed this rhythm.

We are living in a new golden age of the arts. Do we feel it? No, but neither did the Romantics of Paris, the Beats of Soho, nor the Mods of Liverpool. The only thing we must do is create. It's not the gallery owners or the publishers who let us down--they have never really mattered to creativity anyway--it is ourselves we must keep in check. I believe we are the ones who have gotten us into this mess. Believing that art owes us not only a living, but a fine fortune and global fame, is one of the greatest audacities the artist can adopt, and creates a demand for execs, lawyers, managers and dealers.

We must create, for that which is remembered is that which is survives, and that which survives is that which is plentiful. This is why I think the new wave of self-publishing is so important. It's not merely an alternative marketing tactic, it's a rebellion against the corporate overlords. Follow the new hack formulas if you like. Remove all the adverbs and descriptors. That plays into marketability, not art.

"Then you won't sell."

"Then I won't sell. But I'll leave something behind that I'm proud of and that people might like when you and your ilk are dead and gone."

I will not be a serf in their corporate feudal system.  


Steph Waller is an author and composer. Her Rock novel, With a Bullet, which takes places in lat 70s London, is set to be published in Spring 2010. Read more at Incurable Insomniac and

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