Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Graffiti Part Deux - The Change is here

Today Hillary was inspired by a video she saw to revisit an old subject.

 Today I came across this amazing video featuring some graffiti artists.

It amazed and inspired me to see people who are supposedly the dregs of society creating something so beautiful.  Graffiti artists represent a very interesting part of our culture because what they do is often illegal but yet is some of the most amazing art out there.   They could very well create "socially acceptable" art and yet typically choose to make their work known to the world outside the system in a way that is often considered vandalism.  I believe that graffiti artists want to push the bounds of acceptability and challenge our ideas about how we should be allowed to create. They may not know that this is what they are doing,  but they are absolutely, in their own subtle way, affecting social change.

In fact, I wrote about this idea of how they were affecting social change a long time ago on a now defunct blog for a now defunct jewelry business.  In that old post, I said that I felt that graffiti artists represented that part of us that wants to value creativity over societal norms and working 9-5 and profit margins, and I said that I felt a social change coming with people changing focus to expressing themselves, and finding ways to do what they love or incorporate individuality into their daily lives.  In the 2 years since I wrote about this subject, that social change has blossomed in some amazing ways.

While both kickstarter and Indiegogo existed at the time that I wrote that post, they were not mainstream platforms like they are now.  Between the economic crunch in the last couple of years, the trend in corporate America toward treating employees like robots with nothing better to do than grind out product for the man, and the tremendous sociopolitical movements we have seen lately, more and more people are turning to places like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other to get emotional and financial support to pursue their passion.

Of course kickstarter projects aren't the be all, end all of this change, but they're a very visible representation of the idea that, more and more, people want freedom to do their own thing, and that we as a society understand and are ready to support that.  Because of places like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, we all have a place to connect over things that make us passionate and platform to try to make it happen.  It's amazing that if I want to create art the raises awareness about bees (for example), I can create a page and ask people to help.  But the bigger thing that these platforms highlight is the fact that people are helping. It's not just that, more and more, ideas are coming out into the open rather than being secreted away in the back of someone's mind while they write another line of code or sell another burger for the man; it's that other people are accepting this change and supporting these ideas by loving them, by sharing them and by funding them.

Because of platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others, musicians are able to publish albums outside of the old record company system that forced them into contracts where record companies had ultimate control and could choose to do things like leave a whole album on the cutting room floor or take a cut of album sales for an album they didn't help pay a dime to produce, artists are able to fund a gallery show without being "discovered" by the right person with deep pockets, and entrepreneurs are able to open any kind of business or create any kind of amazing contraption without begging for a bank loan and putting their possessions up for collateral.  It's an amazing change, and I think that we owe a lot of the thinking that led to major changes like this to the original "outside the system" thinkers, like graffiti artists.

While society may outwardly shun them, as individuals, many of us get what graffiti artists are all about. More and more we are quietly finding ways to follow in their footsteps. More and more, we are using the lessons they taught us to affect change in the system.  More and more, what used to be "fringe ideas" are leading to beautiful and innovative creations that never could have happened in the old system.  This is all happening because someone dared challenge the idea that the system is always the right way and that conventional beauty is the only beauty.  I love the change I see and I wholeheartedly thank the individuals who pushed those boundaries and the innovators who took those ideas to the next level and the creators who embraced it and ran with it... all of you, but especially graffiti artists.

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