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January 03, 2012

The Price of Authenticity and Angst

So I've been having fun doodling little characters.

jenny doh
I love how with just a slight turn of the lips, the eye lids, the eye balls ... the characters can turn from happy to sad to shy to awkward ... to full of angst against the world.

Jenny Doh
Monica was pointing out that there are sometimes t-shirts she likes with messages of angst ... you know, the kind with the eff-bomb and other intense messages on them. But she makes a great point by saying that many of the coolest angst-message tees are sold at hip stores like Urban Outfitters where you have to pay an arm and a leg for them.

Jenny Doh
Which is ironic, right? I mean, how can a person be so cool to be giving the world the finger while paying $38 for a tee? Would be less ironic if the tee were a castoff from the thrift store, brought home, with the message painted on by hand. Actually, spray painted with a homemade stencil. Late at night. In the garage. While smoking cigarettes.

But then that got me thinking. Can't radical messages ... whether on a shirt or a canvas or paper also be valued and priced high? I mean, why can't the eff bomb shirt cost as much as one that has a polo label on it? It is a discomforting expression but expression nonetheless.

I don't think that for art to be art, it has to be all about unicorns and rainbows ... or grassy fields with girls wearing white dresses.

Artists have throughout history been ambassadors of beauty yes, but also ambassadors that provoke thought, that expose injustice, that document the dark side of war, that simply cause us to pause and think. Some artists have also risen from the streets, where messages are full of angst ... messages that may be discomforting but exist nonetheless. Especially on the street.

Because if that artist in the garage spray paints a shirt that resonates with me, I'd be willing to pay her $38 or more, to get one made for me. And if that artist licensed that design to have them sold in mass at retail outlets ... would that make her a sellout or would that make her a success story who found a way to make a living through authentic expression?

I'm just thinking out loud. About art. About tees. About the price of authenticity and angst.
Jenny Doh


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OMG Jenny this is PERFECT! Especially for today. I would like a copy of your t-shirt. We can discuss the price/sell out at length.

I too have been thinking about the contribution of artists and how I am not cut out for cute, or pretty even. I have something to say, and it might not be sweet. It will be thoughtful, and hopefully thought provoking.

I hope we all get brave in 2012.

Great post, Jenny! I agree with you - art can be pretty-happy but it can also downright angry. I haven't checked online but I wonder if any reporters covered the art made during the Occupy (Wall Street) protests? It would be interesting to find out.

PS: I gave away copies of Art Saves to my family this Christmas. It was a hit! They enjoyed reading ALL the articles/contributions.

Very thought-provoking stuff here, and the sketches you did to illustrate your point are weirdly and wonderfully charming and jarring, both at the same time. Well done.

Excellent post... I think as artists we can often be afraid to show our "dark side," especially if we also have a sweet side that people have gotten used to. I know I get pretty nervous about it, worried that someone will decide they don't like me as much if I say something angry or annoyed! I like Jill's comment that we all get brave in 2012!


I'm all about the bravery and expressionism for 2012...matter of fact, this post was exactly what I needed to read while moving forward in the New Year. I am sometimes terrified to express darker sides to my Art and my writing - for fear I might lose a friend or two should they know I love ALL aspects of Art and Prose. Hey, I love being Luke, but am fascinated by Darth as well. {for lack of a better analogy}

I have to sit back and wonder what that says about me. Thought provoking for sure. I admire those wonderful rare ladies who are open with everything they think, create and do, without giving a thought to "who will I offend, or create a stir with". And if you are a true lover of beauty and art - you do not have to love it all - but you can certainly appreciate it. It's the gems who are multifaceted who make an indelible mark on us - or me, to be exact.

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