Embrace Your Art in a Digital World

Watching Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘The disciple’ set me on a trail of thoughts. There must be a good reason why the Oscar winner ‘Alfanso cuaron’ chose to produce it. An Indian story that strikes a chord with every artist- the climax left me open mouthed- hit hard by the truth of lives of artists. The lives that are akin to dices rolled is merely a game of chance not choice. Life’s unique ability to be fair and unfair at the same second can be felt in the most magnified manner when one views the graph of an artist’s journey.

Artists or creators must spend several years, almost their entire lives to learn the art form- it is techniques, methods, honing their skills, etc. Yet they ought to be unsure of the outcomes of their efforts and hard work. Heads- applause or reward, a best-case scenario or tails- nothing at all which could be a worst case scenario. What is worse is the reminder of it all, with every single try- with silence of the audience, the story of another peer who failed to make it, the isolation, the disregard, and the acceleration in career growths of non-creative professionals- all this in an uncaring, ruthless world that needs to pay its own bills.

What then happens to the artist who hardly finds the time to spend on work that can pay bills? Often several artists find intermittent support from family, friends, supportive spouses and unknown angels. Many other artists take odd jobs like waitressing, call centre executives working through the night sacrificing sleep, cleaning homes, etc. I would call these lucky survivors unrelenting in their purpose to pursue art as a career choice. The rest choose options of living in dire poverty, debt- ridden lives, and many resort to options like prostitution or begging. In my personal experience, I met an artist who had the looks of a model, resorting to begging on the streets of the city of dreams. One therefore, lives in shame, and abraded confidence in the journey of the pursuit of their dreams.

Why then, does the ‘artist’ opt for this life of misery? Weird enough, the answer lies in science which to a lay man would sound like ‘an artist is wired that way’. An artist knows not, to live any other way- whether one is talented enough, is a totally different debate. A parallel struggle. Several artists have tried to fit into the other world- the world of non-creators, and the result has been that of sadness, devastation, depression, and a severely disabled mental health- that leads mostly to substance abuse, attempts at taking one’s own life or committing suicide itself. The real world, then, is ‘No ‘place for artists and probably that is a good reason for them to live in their imagination.

But like a silver lining to every cloud, there are always the odd ones in every profession. A handful of those that we see succeed in finding the balance between creating art and paying their bills. They as I observe are mostly polymaths that have both sides of the brain functioning. They may or may not be talented as compared to their peers, but they are smart enough to position themselves rightly in the face of every opportunity that is thrown at them- no matter how trivial they seem, they embrace it. They use every chance to use their art form and its products to make money. They revere their art too much to give it away for free. They look away from all rules that are packaged in the form of ideology, they simply play by the rules of the game. They usually find success, several times with an expiry date, excellence often eludes them as they have less time to hone their skills, complacency often finds room in their work of art, yet they push ahead, knowing and ignoring the truth in the same beat- they must survive.

Lastly, a destined few may find people from the other world - the non-creative one, with razor sharp marketing skills, to help the artist out. These artists may usually tend to find space, resources, and time to groom themselves to excellence. An entire business model may be created around the likes of those. They are rare and few, but cherished, adored and remembered, long after they are gone.

The creative world in my opinion can use technological innovations of the real world married to awareness of it , to bridge the two . By doing so it can create opportunities that can be used to monetise art - several of these go unseen by artists, every single day. Monetary benefits reaped by art, aided by technology can create a world that will be able to look at art or creativity as professions. It is time artists take the cudgels of monetisation in their hands.

To all creators I say in the current scenario of the pandemic or in an advanced adapted world- conduct workshops, mentor the amateur ones, look for digitally posted opportunities, network to collaborate, stream ticketed performances online and turn the spotlight on yourself. If you do not - someone else will.

Go ahead and monetise your art, use apps and platforms like One Page Spotlight to your benefit – It is designed for you.

Dr. Shilpa Ramesh Ramani

Co-Founder, One Page Spotlight

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