Sunday, April 12, 2015

Selling Out

Before this class, I just knew Ed Hardy by his clothing. It was the "douchey" thing to wear. I knew it as the clothing for guys who wanted to look cool by looking obnoxious. I imagined that's what all the people on MTV's "Jersey Shore" wore on a daily basis. I had no idea Ed Hardy was a famous tattoo artist. 
Many people attribute the fact that a large portion of my generation doesn't know Ed Hardy as a tattoo artist as an artifact of him "selling out." Selling out is usually seen in a negative light. It means a person has lost touch with the art form in an effort to commercialize and make profit. The artist has essentially lost what made them unique by conforming to what will sell in the market. 
But I think that's a bit of a harsh criticism of Hardy. I don't have expertise on his tattooing before he went commercial, so I cannot comment on how his tattoo style might have changed to fit a commercial market. But I will argue that making a profit doesn't necessarily mean the artist has lost touch with the true art form and why they produce their work. Consider artists in another field. Artists like Jackson Pollock were widely sought after in the height of their fame. They earned a substantial living producing artwork just because it has a famous name. Replicates are still made from their work, from which they earn even more revenue. But I don't think I've ever heard someone call Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol a sellout. Or has anyone reprimanded the Beatles for commercializing? But maybe I'm not looking in the right places to find the people who admonish these artists for becoming commercial. People don't neccessarily go into the tattoo industry to get rich, as opposed to the music industry, but why is it so wrong for someone to want to make money from it? 
But I think there's a natural tendency to criticize those who have financially succeeded when we have not. Professor Peace said that many tattoo artists admonished Ed Hardy for "selling out." But I think that part of that is jealousy. They want to attribute his success compared to their lack thereof to the fact that he was willing to change himself in a way that they were not. They need to find some sort of difference between them so that can assume that was the cause of his success. Mere luck or initiative from that person isn't a sufficient answer. But I think everyone does that too. It's human nature not to want to blame yourself directly, but search for another reason someone is more successful than you. 

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