So this is a bit of a weird journal, but it's something I've had on my mind for a long time now, and I just wanted to actually start a discussion about it with people that aren't fellow artists lol. I'll start with a disclaimer though, that even though I've had pieces of this discussion with several people (creator and audience member alike), what I'm about to say is strictly from my point of view - I don't mean to speak for all creators, nor do I mean to make massive generalizations for every single person that tends to stay within the audience. Also, for the purpose of this discussion, "audience" is anyone that's not the creator themselves, including other creators. The two are not mutually exclusive roles to play!
First of all, let's talk about the importance of the creator; without the creator, there is no art, no stories, no morphs, no 3D renders, nothing. The creator takes all the inspirations he or she has accumulated throughout their life, mixes it with their own unique preferences and personality, and regurgitates it (ew!) as a new work mostly yet unseen by the world. These inspirations can be anything - a videogame or book you grew up enjoying, a piece of art that you just saw that blew your mind, what you had for breakfast, anything! Technically, everything is derivative of what came before it (we're all just riffing on those earliest of caveman drawings lol), but there is no doubt that to create something truly exceptional requires a special kind of dedication to the craft. What is exceptional is also subjective - some people crawl out of the abyss once every five years with a piece of work that alters the entire trajectory of a fandom, and some make humble but no less worthwhile contributions to their community on a constant basis, brightening the lives of their audience a little bit more each day.
So with that, we shift to the audience. In my opinion, the role of the audience is a crucial, and often underappreciated aspect of the creative process. Depending on the artist, the audience either doesn't matter almost at all (I make what I want to make, and if people happen to like it that's cool I guess), or almost more important than the art itself (omg I really hope people like this, if I don't get 50 comments by yesterday all my hard work will have been for nothing nothing NOTHING!!!!). It's a really fascinating dynamic, actually! Because in some manner of looking at it, an artist can be evaluated by the size and participation of their audience. We often tend to worship the creators as these mini-deities that can make our fantasies come true...but behind closed doors, many creators are reveling in the feedback they get from their audience. It empowers them, motivates them, encourages them. At the end of the day, the reality is that both creators and the audience worship each other. "If an artist draws and nobody is around to see it, did he really draw anything at all?". Obviously, there are many artists that are completely self-sustaining as far as the drive to create something goes. But just as much so, there are creators that need that feedback in order to feel relevant...
And now we get to the real point of this journal, which is to say....just as much as an audience can empower a content creator...it can also enslave them.
I have to reiterate that this is just my take on things, but I feel like I see it a lot - A once unknown, but skilled, creator makes a splash on the scene, gets all the feedback and admiration they've ever wanted...and then they stop being a creator and instead turn into something more akin to a factory. No more fresh ideas, no more branching out to tap into and incorporate all the other things they love and enjoy, no more pushing their own skills to new heights, just a massively concerted effort to stick with what gets them the most views, comments, and faves. Or possibly even worse, branch out into things that they aren't even really interested in, just because it's popular. Again, again, this isn't everyone that seems to follow this pattern - some people are really just that boring (for lack of a better, less condescending term lol) and truly and genuinely just enjoy making the same thing over and over again. That's awesome for them, and I sort of envy the type of people that are easily contented....but what about the creators that aren't?
What about those funky creators that simultaneously want to try all sorts of new things, but also placate their large, active, happy audience that they appreciate (and worship) so much? Where does all that untapped zeal and potential go, if the creator is too afraid to mix it up at the cost of not getting the feedback they've grown accustomed to?
STRAIGHT DOWN THE SHITTER, THAT'S WHERE! And it's no normal turd, either! It's the runny kind that no matter how much TP you throw at that thing, you can never seem to completely scrape it off your asscheeks, and after trying to get yourself to a no-dookie-stains point for so long, now your anus is Monday Night RAW. The potential is utterly wasted, but the memory of it sticks with you and stings when you think about it. It's a lingerer, man, it just....lingers! Uncomfortably so! And as all that potential is sliding out of your butthole, and splashes back up when it hits the water, you can't help but think to yourself "Maybe I could have done something with all this...if only I could be reassured that the audience I've built so far would actually like it and not just disregard it...". The artist's conundrum is that untapped potential might as well be flushed down the toilet, and yet if they tap into it and nobody seems to like it....it still feels like shit anyways!
This is really long already, so let me wrap up by suggesting that...maybe it doesn't have to be that way. Yes, especially in fetish communities like ours, people seem to only want more of the same. Yes, those few times you have tried to branch out into the other things that make you, "you" were probably met with lukewarm reception...But let's not forget that the same audience that faps, is the same audience that claps! (okay this is getting campy lol) At the same movie theaters, watching the same TV shows, reading the same books...Nobody is truly, 100% only interested in the porn (unless you've really completely gone that direction and now you really might piss off your audience if you decide to go straight from futanari butt sex to Norman Rockwell era fine art, haha). We all have a ton of different interests and hobbies. It should come as no surprise that some of the most popular creations are based on the same stuff that is popular in the mainstream.
So consider this a wake-up call, a granting of permission for you (read: me) to trust in your audience more; to trust in yourself more in believing that every aspect of yourself has value as creator, not just what you know people are interested in now. Yeah, maybe you really will get dick for response for all your bravery, but maybe it's worth considering that you only built this audience based on your courage to expound on a once-hidden aspect of yourself in the first place. You've done it before, there's no reason to believe that you can't do it again. Or maybe you need to stop trying to cater to the masses in the first place, and start to find more joy in creating stuff that fully resonates with the first audience you ever had, yourself.
Free DLC Update!!: I sorta forgot to address my hopes for people that tend to stay in the audience as well, which is...Well I just want you to know that you have more power than you may realize. Even if it seems like all the creators ignore you, or nobody gives you free stuff like they do other creators, the painful truth is that a lot of creators get off on that feeling of being of value to someone, even if they can't or don't want to do anything for them. You are literally a source of most creator's power, and without you, the majority of us would shrivel up, never to be heard from again lol. Even if all you can afford to give back to an artist in return is a small comment and a favorite, you are just as important as any creator. I'd just like to ask that maybe you give your favorite creator's passion projects a fair chance, even if they don't quite align with what you normally expect from them. With your support, a creator can find the strength to turn their passion into yours as well.
If you made it this far, thank you lol. I'm curious to see how other people feel about this topic!
Listening to: The steady hum of my computer
Reading: This journal to see how gross I can be lol
Watching: Home Movies
Playing: Persona 4 the Golden
Eating: Thanksgiving Leftovers
Drinking: dude I could go for a drink about now