Any creative person knows that the hardest thing can be to find an audience for your work. On one side of the great divide we have the creatives (the writers, artists, fashion designers, architects, musicians, dancers etc), and on the other we have the consumers. Those consumers have a voracious appetite for the products of creative endeavour but none of them seem to have a taste for the dish you're serving… How can this be? How can we tempt them away from the MacDonald's gruel of mainstream populist pap and onto the fine artisan made delicacy that you specialise in? That's the age old question and it's a very difficult one to solve.
But why does this divide exist to start with? Since pretty much everyone is a consumer, even creatives, and we all demand constant stimulation you'd think we wouldn't be that picky… and yet, like little children who crave the bland comfort and simple taste of fast-food, we always turn to the mainstream for sustenance.
The reason for this occurred to me the other day: a comic creator was complaining that people on Reddit didn't take kindly to him advertising his SciFi comic there and yet the people are craving SciFi content and they're ALL consumers. The thing is that our consumption of creative products isn't just a singular experience, it's a cultural one. Work that connects to the wider cultural experience makes us feel bigger and something MORE than ourselves. Mainstream work does that especially, but even small-scale fringe stuff from the 1930s and 50s has a valuable cultural historical connection that enriches us.
At the very basic level humans are a communal, pack species, like a colony of chimpanzees or a herd of wildebeest. What distinguishes us from other animals is the culture that we build on, record and transfer to each other, which is why cultural products that facilitate a connection are so much more appealing: comedy with universally relatable themes, religion, the human condition etc. Besides, as humans we think pretty much the same as each other in many ways so what appeals to one is bound to appeal to others.
For this reason I believe the path to bridging the gap to the consumers is NOT necessarily to ape the mainstream but rather we should look for those universal relatable traits and elements of shared cultural experience and sell our work in those terms.
eg: don't just make a fake version of a MacDonald's burger, you should make your own dish that features looks, tastes and textures you know people will like and find somewhat familiar, but prepared in your own special and individual way. Don't just produce a bowl of purple and green steaming muck with limp tentacles flopping out of it and expect people to develop a taste for it. :)
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ozoneocean at 12:00AM, April 27, 2019
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