As an artist, it’s always been a little challenging to tap into doing something creatively completely without any thought of what else has been done, what people are used to, or what they seem to like. ( I learned early that drawing Elton John for girls I wanted to know better was good. Even though I didn’t really like Elton John).
I started out wanting to do comic strips. As a kid I studied the strips of old and current, and tried to replicate it. ( I remember the first thing an old book said about making comic strips was “ask the syndicate what size they like to work in.”) Already, you are structuring it for a market. When I became a freelance illustrator, I had clients, art directors, editors, etc always giving me imput. When I started animating, I still saw what was being shown at edgy animation festivals, and that had an influence on my early films. But I still practiced much more autonomy.
But in the back of your mind is that little businessman/woman saying ” that won’t make any money” ( Wait, that was my fathers’ quote about art in general). Or the ego saying “Please like me”, “Don’t you think my art makes me special? I want to be special”.
In my years of creating animated shows that were produced for televison and streaming, even though I had a lot of freedom, there was always input from networks. Standards, brand consistency, budget issues. etc.
But You also want to respect and feel gratitude that a company is willing to put up millions of dollars for your odd little strange idea, and believe in it. Even though I stood up for my vision, I always knew that they owned the show.( But I used to say to Nickelodeon “Trust me, this show will still be making you money 20 years from now”. I was right about that, but not right about a lot of other things.
Now with recent directives on developing a series including ‘ We only do shows now that are designed to sell toys, or ‘that are about and/or are done by specific ethnicities” my artistic spirit is screaming to get out. ( and don’t get me wrong, I’m totally behind doors opening where they may have been closed before).
So as an artist, how often do you sit down and say ” I’m going to do whatever I want.”, meditating to remove any thoughts that lead to “my fans like this, the networks like this, I sell more of these, etc. I know there are several artists who can do that and I respect that so much.
So now I’m doing that. We are moving into a quiet farmhouse where my studio will be a converted horse stable. The house is paid for, we have very little bills. It’s a crazy place to be. But it’s really where art wants to be.
You don’t say to a spruce tree, “Could you be a sequoia because tourists really like sequoias”. A spruce does best at being a spruce.