Nothing lasts, and in this age of ever-shortening attention spans and information overload, everything – and everyone – seems ever more transient by the day. 15 minutes of fame has ridden sullenly into the sunset and has named 140 characters of tepid interest its deputy. Time was, you could hope to leave a mark, a lasting impression, on people just by doing something out of the ordinary, something that hinted at some deeper significance to why the hell you should be sucking all this air. Now your crowning accomplishment is just another link on someone’s Facebook newsfeed.
Text and Image WordsManifest
Art, and its slightly whorish commercial counterpart, design, were made to live on as a calling card, an “[INSERT NAME HERE] WUZ ERE” defacing of time’s collective consciousness, long after the expiration of a particularly egotistical creative individual. In the place of a recognisable face, you would instead have a block of text – BANKSY Â Strikes Again! – or a ubiquitous logo searing its apple-shaped glow into your psyche whenever you want to check your mail, make a call, or buy a brain-numbing mobile application. The masses hold great stock not in the colourways of your limited edition basketball shoes, but by the original arrangement of leather vamps cut and stitched together by an underpaid Chinese workforce that was 12 years old 30 years ago. If you made music, back in the day people would actually buy your entire album, man, and not just a single or two from iTunes … if indeed they paid anything for it. Art is supposed to last. It’s supposed to stay on a wall, a canvas, in people’s minds, far longer than you can hang around talking about your role in creating, packaging, and promoting it. If awareness of your work dies down as soon as you stop addressing it to the cloud, then it’s probably not very good work, innit?
Nothing will last, not even the inorganic droppings of your fevered creative mind that should by right outlive you and act as markers of your intellectual legacy. Severe Twiggy cuts and bold Keith Haring lines and luxurious Bill Blass fabric swatches and utilitarian Superstars and stiff New Era Snapbacks will, at best, make a second, third, fourth run around the block, but if you’re banking on these tenets of design and artistic expression to remain unchanging and everlastingly relevant in proud defiance of time immemorial, I’m going to want some of what you’re smoking, homie. Even if you play all your cards right and come up with the coolest thing ever, you might get Nikola Tesla’d and have someone else lay claim to your intellectual property and the recognition that comes with it … and since you’ll be dead, there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about changing anyone’s mind about it.
(The Sugarhill Gang did not invent rapping. I just need to say that again, in case people forget. At least I did my part to keep the truth alive this month.)
Do what you can. Don’t expect your ugly mug to be cast in bronze for pigeons to adoringly poop on for millennia after your passing, just because you made something a lot of people thought was pretty neat. Your name might never be connected to the life-changing, epoch-heralding thing you thought up, and seriously, you should be okay with that. Art and Design is all about creating something because you probably wouldn’t know what to do with yourself if you didn’t. Don’t sweat the consequences, and forget the audience. It’s hard enough to find good, honest, sincere art these days. Who has the time to remember who did what? We just want nice things for as long as they’re nice. Just keep making art, for art’s sake. Jeez.
WordsManifest takes pictures, talks fast over hardcore beats, and sometimes types. For details, please proceed to www.about.me/wordsmanifest.