Creativity doesn’t have an expiration date.
“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
— Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Artists and Creators live on a fine line of merging expression and relevance, evolving as their audience grows along with them.
In walking this fine line of remaining relevant, the artist often runs the risk of being perceived as either “washed-up” or being a “sell-out”.
What is often lost, is that the artist does not stop being creative — it is the binding force of artistic expression which evaporates in translation. For once an artist finds success, it becomes that much more daunting to retain the bar they’ve set for themselves.
Confusing “success” for “merit”.
In the age of viral sensations, it’s not a surprise that shock-value finds its way in the world of artistic expression. The older generations might fail to grasp on to the relevance of the content, whilst the younger either accepts it or rejects it.
Pieces that are timeless, artists whose work has transcended the barriers of age and time — form a legacy.
Whether it be a one-hit wonder or consistent expressionistic value, the art of creation in its essence goes on to inspire a generation ahead.
The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” still remains on the Top-100 Singles List.
George Orwell’s “1984”, is still perceived as an essential read.
Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”, still remains a classic in it’s genre.
Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation”, still remains as one of the greatest examples of artistic exploration, giving birth to modern-indie films, unveiling a story in itself where an actor fails to find “relevance”.
What is so seemingly interesting about “Lost in Translation” is not just that it gave birth to the idea of modern-indie films, it touched on a subject we as the audience could relate with.
Creating a world where an artist struggles to find its place, alongside a wander who can’t quite grasp their purpose in search of seeking intrinsic human connection trapped in a seemingly “hollow” relationship.
Let’s look at the example of Sir. Paul McCartney and Sir. Elton John, who have both respectively collaborated with Hip-Hip artists as their careers have aged alongside their audience — Kanye West and Eminem.
Both collaborations did not come off as tasteless or selling out, but rather a gift from an older much evolved artist to a younger one; reaching out to a rather unique audience, arguably merging groups of fans in the process of doing so.
Adding their own flavour to the collaborations, these majestic pieces of artistic expression display what is so seemingly simple in its value — pleasing the audience and giving back.
If I were to mention the genre of “Horror”, arguably, the first author who comes to mind is Stephen King; an author who continues to write to this day despite his health struggles after being struck by a minivan on June, 1999.
Even a fucking minivan couldn’t stop King from writing!
Whilst most writers might invite film collaborations for their monetary value; Stephen King takes creative control to another level when it comes to his work and how protective he is of it.
Famously known for his concept of “Dollar Babies”, short stories he’s happily willing to sign off the rights to for “just a dollar” to aspiring film makers; is a testament of authentic artistry and the love of collaboration.
Creativity, where thoughts transcend speech.
An emergence of brilliance without verbal expression.
Though he’s far more than generous to allow film makers to adapt his stories visually, expect the wrath of Stephen King to be unleashed if the film adaptation does not meet his standards; most notably known for his very public criticism of the Film adaptation of “The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick.
In the music industry, there’s very few who have transcended the art of creative evolution without “selling out”, such as Trent Reznor of “Nine Inch Nails”.
The heavy metal / industrial rock genre musician, known for his obsession with “Moog Modular Synthesisers” and the mad-scientist like studio creation resembling a post-apocalyptic testing lab aficionado; Reznor took scoring films by musicians from a generic “musical song contribution” to redefining the “mood” of the films he scores entirely.
His collaboration with the like-minded twisted directorial vision of David Fincher known for his similar dark-ambience, went on to emerge as the bench mark for film scores when they first embarked on their journey on producing the soundtrack for the “The Social Network” — resulting in a total of Nine majors award, including an Oscar.
It not only gave purpose to an outlook of creative individuals of being free from the constraints of being bound to a particular platform, it set the pathway that artists didn’t necessarily need to be reserved to their roots to be able to evolve; hence emerging gracefully into the world of exploring and exposing their talent to a different industry and audience along the journey.
So what the fuck is the point of all this, Nabeel?
The fucking point is, as artist we need not be reserved or unwilling to evolve. There’s no shame in staying true of tradition, but moving with the times and adapting eloquently is how one remains true to form. Exploring a world of universal creativity, as artists we have the benefit of not having an expiry date on our creations.
Whether it be through collaboration or an endless pursuit of content creation.
Whether it be a one-hit wonder, a viral sensation, of a lasting legacy — the artist always leaves an impact; their unique imprint on society.
In order to stay relevant, we grow and view the world differently; incorporating our perception into our work.
Simply put, think back to how you viewed the world when you were 5–10 years younger as compared to how you view it now.
It would be rather primitive if your vision has not evolved.
To end this in a testament to one of my favourite song writers,
In one of his rare media appearances on 60-Minutes, Bob Dylan had the following to say regarding the plethora of brilliance he’s unleashed throughout his journey as an artist and how he views his evolution,
“I used to. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t know how I got to write those songs. Those early songs were almost magically written…
…Try to sit down and write something like that. There’s a magic to that, and it’s not Siegfried and Roy kind of magic, you know? It’s a different kind of a penetrating magic. And, you know, I did it. I did it at one time…
…You can’t do something forever, I did it once, and I can do other things now. But, I can’t do that.”