Learning from the Presidential Election: Similarities Between Art and US Politics

By admin in Misc > Art Opinion

presidential candidates

I really try not to write about US politics here on EmptyEasel, first and foremost because this is an art website after all, and secondly, because about a third of my readers are outside the United States and likely won’t care.

But as I’ve been listening to political pundits talk about possible nominees for the upcoming US presidential race, I’ve started to see an interesting trend in the media’s political coverage which I think applies to artists too.

Here’s what I mean:

During past elections, the media (cable news, broadcast news, the radio, all of them) would feed us information, analyses, and predictions about all the political nominees. And whether we nodded our heads in agreement or yelled at the TV in frustration, that was pretty much that.

AND, up until the past few years, you could say the same thing for the art world too. All of the art galleries, the art critics, the art magazines and publications. . . They’d tell us which artists were up-and-coming (or which artists were has-beens) and of course, we could either agree or disagree, but still—that was pretty much that.

You see, the media was in charge. And as you and I know, people in general have always tended to believe what they read and hear. If something’s in the newspaper, or if you see it on the 6 o’clock news. . . well, it MUST be true, right?

No longer.

In THIS election, it’s been clear that the media no longer holds the same power to sway public opinion as it used to. Pundits have made prediction after prediction about which candidates would be ahead, or behind, or drop out, only to be proven completely wrong after the next state primary. (And that’s in both parties, mind you—Republican and Democrat.)

It’s easy to see that people are making up their own minds. But why now?

Well, what’s different this election year is the prominence of the internet. Small town bloggers are making their opinion known—in some cases—to larger audiences than their local TV station can reach. Forums and online communities are spreading political information and ideas like wildfire, from person to person across the nation who are at the same time sitting comfortably in their own living rooms.

Not only that, but social networks like Facebook and MySpace are proving to be platforms for the youth of America to finally get involved with our political system—and going back to the blogosphere, some news channels are even starting to cite influential bloggers in their news reports just as they would any other reputable source.

The power of the internet in politics is taking off! And here’s the thing. . . the same thing is happening in the art world too!

Can you see it?

It used to be that artists needed galleries to accept them, needed glowing reviews from the art critics and art experts to be successful. Not anymore. Now, just like in politics, it doesn’t matter nearly as much what the “experts” are saying compared to how the people view your art, one-on-one. . . in person, maybe, but more likely at your blog, in an online forum, or on a social networking site.

Honestly, I’m pleased to see these major changes in the political realm because it’s another way of seeing what’s happening in the art world too.

And I’d encourage all of you to worry less about what the art establishment thinks about your art. Worry less about fitting into a certain mold or style. Or getting into that high-end gallery. I’ve always said to take your art directly to the people, and I guess today I’ll say it again. . . maybe now’s the time.

Sure, it can take a little bit of work up front, but think of it this way: unlike politicians, we won’t ever need to get the majority of people in our country on our side to be successful artists—we really only need a handful. : )


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