Quote from Just Kids by Patti Smith.
I resonate so deeply with this book, a true shared history of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, two incredible revolutionary artists. I read about their time in New York City in the 50s and 60s, hanging out at the factory and making the most radical art the world had ever seen at that point. These days, nothing seems to be radical enough. Artist communities are hard to find and have been replaced by social media networks, really just individuals pushing their own expressions onto the world. But we cannot fight technology, and individualism is actually a positive change for our society. My fear arises from the brutal truth of the advertising world. Artists are tools for them to sell their products, not seen as human beings with clear physical and emotional needs. Artists suffer, partly because they give in to their emotions for the sake of their art, and partly because they choose to value beauty and expression over money, something our capitalist society does not readily support. We jump at any opportunity to make art, whether it actually aligns with our financial needs or not. The companies and brands using our art to sell their products have no desire to end our suffering (aka pay us a decent wage), it fuels their own profit-driven image. If it was up to them, they would slaughter the hearts right out of us.
Of course, there are exceptions. There are companies that still value art and what artists bring to the commercial world and are willing to pay them fairly. There are artists like Patti and Robert out there, starving to continue to make art, who eventually get a big break from one of these companies and live all of their dreams. And in turn, support the artists that still haven't made it because they understand the road is rough. But if we want to be valued as high as we see ourselves, we have to stop giving our work up for free. Make that brand pay to post your image, or to use their clothes in your photos, or to put your art in their expensive magazines. Make the boring dude in his 30s who wants to "collaborate" pay to take sexy photos of you. Do not suffer for your art, THRIVE for your art.
The following are either photos of me by Thomas or photos of Thomas by me. Thomas is my lifelong partner, lover, soulmate and an amazing photographer. I have been his muse for the last 4 and 1/2 years. All photos shot on 35mm.