Bad Art

This weekend, during our downtime, in between the previewing of movies, the making of dinners and the designing of logos, Toby Joe and I wrote 1.5 songs on our guitars. One of them I find to be rather catchy and I’m excited to try and record it as soon as I figure out how.

Then yesterday, I was sitting on the toilet having a good, long pee, when something kind of funny occurred to me. Now, this idea that came to me while on the pot has occurred to me before, but this time it was particularly funny because I entered the future.

You see, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking something YOU’VE created is perfectly original and grand and will be accepted by others. I mean, look at all the horrible art hanging from the prestigious walls of some Chelsea galleries. Look at all the cliché TV programs on prime time (::cough:: All Reality Television ::cough::). Look at all the overrated novelists (::cough:: Jennifer Weiner ::cough::) filling Amazon and the shelves of Barnes and Noble. Look at those who once called themselves Graphic Designers (::cough:: mihow ::cough::) You’re left wondering how they pulled off such a thing.

What I do know is this: last night while on the toilet, I laughed at the image of myself, 2 months from now, listening to the recording I have yet to make and realizing, in retrospect, “Holy crap, that song is bad.”

I have my most rewarding and shit-kicking thoughts on the toilet. (No pun intended, I assure you.)

Ultimately, is it really possible to know what’s good and what isn’t when the judge is also the creator? Every mother and father thinks their baby is the smartest and cutest, right? Does time and refinement enable us to set the record straight? Does one need to produce and put out sophomoric work in order to (know) change and grow?


  1. I think you guys should record 12 songs, rip them to mp3, incorrectly title them as the tracks to the new Madonna cd, and share them online.

    Overnight pop senstations you will become.


  2. I think it can be hard for an artist to have perspective on their work, but I also think that the good ones know how to critique it. Experience and understanding are (usually) the primary tools that help an artist make a good idea realize its potential.

    In other cases you see the precocious youth, the wunderkind who intuitively understands a field (or has absorbed it quickly) and can give a good idea the finish and polish of a master.

    I suspect what you imagine is a realization that your work has promise but just isn’t mature, and as you learn more you’ll see those marks of immaturity. The novelty will wear off and you won’t see the craftsmanship of a mature work.

    Your observations remind me of what I saw in academia. Young scholars were creative, innovative, and energetic. The ones with promise (who ultimately succeeded) knew how to package their scholarship in a way that was publishable, etc, as well as rework their ideas into such a format. It would be grounded in the proper, contemporary scholarship, and it would be relevant.

    Others would get excited about an idea, but when they went back to what they had written (usually as they cobbled together their various seminar papers and research into a dissertation), they hated it. Why? The idea may have been good, but experience showed them the inadequacies of their work. The hearty ones can suck it up, tear apart what they had done before, and reassemble it into something better.

    Others, like your Chelsea artists, found themselves discussing esoteric, asbstruce theorists (::cough:: Jacques Lacan ::cougb::) and capably packaging it as scholarship. However, it was only meaningful to a select group/audience. Does that make it bad? Does good art need to speak to a universal audience, or can its relevance be bound by time, place, audience, and the work of others? Does art have to be timeless and important to be good?

    Finally, there are “artists” who are simply producers of an entertainment/aesthetic/literary product. Their strength is their ability to package and deliver content; they simply lack creativity. Is it necessary for everything that’s packaged to be valuable and original?

    Those artists/producers may lack perspective (they may assume that because it sells it’s “good”). Their paychecks and bank accounts tell them they’re “successful.” So what? We all know that packaging and marketing is as much a part of success as talent is. And maybe they are aware that what they’re doing is simply a commodity, but hey, it sells.

    So don’t be discouraged by the realization that some day you will see blemishes on your work. That’s a good thing. It means you’re growing.


  3. Charlie, I love you, too. I love Sian. And well, you’re pretty great, too.

    No, really, I like that you take the time to leave comments like these. While I almost didn’t say as much on here, publicly, I figured it was necessary that I let you know important they are—your comments.

    So, thanks. Again. :]

    And we’re a few days away from getting a recording device. That being said, you’re a few weeks away from hearing our song. Oh boy. Can’t wait. heh


  4. the way i see it is, the people who start in ,say music, at a young age are blessed to write crap songs when it doesn’t matter. music is craft, not art! so as we get older we can refine our craft as we gain wisdom and experience( and the unfortunate realization that nothing’s new). now don’t tell any artists this, but i think IMHO that they are just good scammers.


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