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Creative Currency

“Cause it’s a, lot of bull$h*t floodin’ the scene
Where everybody’s a star, and hot $h*t is few and far between
We lose the grip of what, garbage mean”

- Black Thought (Star/Pointro, The Tipping Point - 2004)

Two Sides of Capitalism: Bad. Shepard Fairey. 2007. 16’ x 10’ Mixed media on wood

There should be a scale where you could measure creative net worth. It would allow everyone to avoid the discussion of “good art.” I mentioned before in a post about becoming a successful artist that “good” is subjective because, in truth, it is a shallow conversation at best. A curator of modern, South American painting is going to have a different version of “good” than a screen print shop from Buffalo New York that does concert posters. There’s no universal there in that discussion. But what if we could have universal quantifiers that allowed everyone to look at the creative world more objectively? How valuable would your creative currency be?

So what are some of the things that would go in this scale? The first thing I would include is craft. The level of thought and effort that have gone into something goes a long way even in the simplest of ideas. 

I also think it’s fair to include concept as a measure. Extra points for below surface-level meaning. I have met some incredibly dedicated artists that can create circles around people, but the work doesn’t necessarily mean that much. Remember, we’re not talking about good or bad, we’re talking about a scale. 

Ok, what’s next? Maybe we include progressiveness (is that a word)? There’s other ways to describe it, but constant growth away from a comfort level is what we’re talking about. It’s literally what defined the Impressionists and why they were so hated initially.  

So where am I going with all of this? With the rise in popularity of creative districts as marketable destinations it is a topic that needs to be discussed more if they plan on succeeding. Personally I don’t think it’s a subject that many people like to have because it is an uncomfortable one. What would the net worth of your district be based on the public art that you’re putting out? What is the ratio of support you’re giving to artists, performers and writers in relationship to businesses and developers? Are you trying to force an aesthetic and live in a comfort zone or are you trying to progress and give your residents and visitors something to be surprised and inspired by? What would the creative currency exchange rate be between a city like Richmond and a city like Virginia Beach?


La Comunidad II. Ever. 2013 Mural in Richmond, VA for G40

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