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Friday, March 09, 2012

A Blank Slate

I once had a long discussion with a woman making the case for creative writing being so much more difficult than writing commercial copy. I had been slaving over writing catalog copy for our product line, and it was excruciating to say what I wanted in the space allotted. I disagreed with her viewpoint and countered that the constraints and parameters of writing advertising can be extremely challenging, more so than writing fiction. She said it could not compare to writing a novel, where you start with a blank slate.

True, but there is no law that says that the results of a blank slate which has been filled by a fine artist is more creative than a piece of advertising meeting a host of requirements. Artistic brilliance or lack thereof can be found in fine arts or commercial art.

New York City is a mecca for artists and art schools. Anyone here long enough will be exposed to art at various levels - galleries, art students, and working artists in every genre: writing, painting, illustration, sculpture, film, TV, video, architecture, dance, and music. We are blessed with numerous well-regarded schools - Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes, Parsons, SVA, and NYU Film, as well as world-renowned venues, such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

However, everyone has got to earn a buck, and whether born of necessity or by choice, much of the world's artistic talent finds work outside fine arts, either in commercial art or in jobs unrelated to art altogether. It is the rare artist that is able to support him or herself through fine art alone. Very serious talent is funneled into the commercial arts and media, and I am never one to disparage genres such as TV. Writers for comedy and TV often hail from some of the finest schools, and networks such as HBO are showcases for artistic talent that compares creatively to fine film.

Here, on Greenwich Avenue in the Village, is a spectacular window display at the Rizza Hair Salon. Behind this work, there is likely an artist applying his or her talents and expressing him/herself given the constraints of the shop owner's needs. It's creative and well done, even though he/she likely started with more than a blank slate :)

More on art and artists: Leave It to the Critics, Mark Birnbaum (Part 1 and Part 2), Creative Expert, So Where's David?, Finger Painting, Fusion Arts Museum

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