So, there's this image making the rounds on social media today and while we at the Artist's Umbrella don't feel the need to respond to every idiotic thing on the internet (we have lives, ya know) given the nature of what we do, we thought this one warranted a response. You might know what we're talking about by now. It was this guy.
Singapore The Sunday Times survey.Picture:Ashley Tan
See anything wrong? As a team of artists that supports a community of artists, can we all just give one big collective, WTF?
Artists have always known they were underappreciated, but number one non-essential? Seriously? Now, we realize this probably refers to jobs that need to go back to work and those that don't, but even if that's the case, we've got news for you...most artists NEVER STOPPED WORKING. Even still, 71% of the people asked didn't seem to take into account the art present in their lives every single day. So, we thought it was our duty to point it out.
Let's start with a question; what have you been doing to keep busy during quarantine?
Watching TV? Artists.
Listening to music? Artists.
Playing video games? Artists.
Listening to podcasts? Artists.
Watching YouTube Videos? Artists.
Entertaining your kids with picture books? Artist.
Laughing at stand-up comedy? Artist.
Enjoying virtual open mics? Artists
Watching your fave musicians perform live? Artist
Attending virtual Comic Conventions to buy commissions from comic book creators? Artist.
Using self-help books and journals and journal prompts to better yourself as a person? Artist.
Right now you might be saying, "Well, those are all entertainment. We don't need them." And MAYBE you're right. So let's look at some more practical applications for artists or people that use some form of the arts to make a living.
Been reading articles to stay up-to-date on Covid-19? Artist.
Enjoying the images that go with those articles? Artist.
Do the graphs and charts make the data easier to understand? Artist.
Those websites you use to keep working and stay organized and communicate with your team? Designed by artists.
That graphic in that ENLIGHTENING survey? Designed by an artist.
When companies had to change their messaging in order to meet new guidelines and regulations, who wrote that messaging? Who brainstormed it? Who wrote the blogs and website copy that kept users up-to-date? Who designed the signs hanging from windows? Artists, friends. ARTISTS.
The artist writing this right now happened to get a job during quarantine because her skills were considered essential.
So yea. You might be able to get by without the entertainment aspect of art (but I dare you to try, seriously). And maybe now you're saying, "Ok, but we don't need those things to survive," and fine. You might be right. We don't need any of those things in order to keep breathing or to keep your heart beating. But consider that sentiment the next time your heart speeds up during an action-movie or flutters at your favorite poem.
Think about all the ways artists keep the world turning and then try to think about surviving without them (Hint: there are so many ways that it's literally impossible to name them all. I'm an artist and I've probably missed something (and if I did, I'm sorry) but the next time you want to call artists non-essential, picture your world without your favorite song or your favorite book or that painting hanging over your desk that always makes you smile.
I want you to try and picture a whole day where an image doesn't make you feel part of a moment for just a few seconds. Try getting around the internet without any copy or graphics to give you the information you need. When a plate of food is put in front of you and you appreciate the presentation or the combination of smells wafting from the plate and making your mouth water, thank the artist of a chef that prepared it for you. When you finally get your haircut again and admire its symmetry or the way the colors blend together or highlight your eyes or catch the light, thank the artist that specifically chose those colors for you and knew what style would frame your face. When you smile at the leaf in your latte before putting the lid on and taking your first sip of caffeine for the day, send some love to the artist that poured that espresso.
Before you call artists non-essential, try to think about a moment from your day that isn't impacted by art. Go ahead, do it.