Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cashin' in vs. Sellin' out

So lately I've been thinking about the differences between selling out and cashing in. I won't bother you with the details of why but I figured that since I had a few minutes while waiting for a canvas to dry I would pose the question, my conclusions and maybe get some feedback.

I have heard a lot of creative folk called Sell-outs. Movie makers, musicians, artists and authors. But what makes a sell-out? Being an artist that makes an actual living doing what I love, making art, could put me in the Sell-out category in the eyes of some. But am I really?

I think selling out is determined by the intentions of the creator. Here's an example:
I have a picture of a vampire getting ready to do battle with a werewolf.

It's an old piece that was done for a book cover that was never published. It was on the verge of fading off into obscurity when lo-and-behold Twilight became bigger than Jesus and I was told by more then one person that this reminded them of the book. So I began to feature the prints a little more prominently. Because the picture was done before Twilight I consider this cashing in. 

But what if I had painted because Twilight had become so popular? I think the line gets fuzzy here but this is my take: For one thing vampires and werewolves would be something that I would do regardless. So taking that and the fact that it's not a particular character into consideration I think this would probably fall into the "Cashing-in" category. Maybe if I didn't do this type and/or it was a specific character I would have probably been a Sell-Out.

It's the same with my Dead White & Blue zombie paintings. Initially hadn't planned on doing any more other than Zombie Sam but because he was such a huge hit the others came along. Am I selling out because I've found something commercially viable? I would still be doing zombies whether people were into them or not. The types of zombies are inconsequential. Unless I painted a Twilight zombie...  There's that damned gray area again!

Here's some thought provocation: I used to consider Metallica Sell-outs because once they became commercially successful with And Justice For All everything after that seemed geared towards the general record buying public. But hold the phone! They were in it for the money. Music is more than fun it's a career. Very much like my art. So they're doing something they love and trying to make money at it and in order to make money they had to...that's right, sell records. So, even though I'm personally not fond of new Metallica I now respect them more.

Flip side of that? Megadeth released some music that was "radio-friendly". To me it looked as though they were trying to follow in Metallica's commercial footsteps. In my eyes that was selling out. I don't know what was goin' on in Dave's head but that's the way it looks to me on the outside. 

So with zombies being all the rage it's hard to tell the Sell-outs from the Cash-ins. But I think you can get some idea by the quality. Cash-ins are doing it not only for the money but also because they like it so the quality is higher. Sell-outs are doing it for the money and it will show in the quality. A perfect example is the remakes of the classic George Romero flicks Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Dawn was a good flick. Some purists will argue this point but I don't think anyone will argue the point that Day was a real stink hole! Somebody somewhere said "Hey, Dawn made a ton of money. Let's throw some shit together and call it Day. It'll make money on name recognition alone!" Dawn: Cash-in. Day: Sell-out.

The book Pride & Prejudice & Zombies? By reading the Wikipedia entry my money's on Cash-in but you can bet your sweet zombie ass the market will be flooded with many Sell-outs and a few Cash-ins very very soon. It happens with any successful venture. Look at all the freakin' pirate crap that was out there when Pirates of the Caribbean was hot!

During the elections several people told me I should do zombie versions of the candidates. But I felt that would be selling out. My criteria for Dead White & Blue is that the images I zombify need to be iconic. Now I knew that regardless of who won there would be an icon there, either Obama or Palin. But I feel there needs to be time. After an as-of-yet-to-be-determined amount of time I will be cashing in. Any sooner and I will be selling out. Make sense?

Some Sell-outs are obvious. Others are not. I suppose the difference between Cash-in vs. Sell-out is debatable. Like me everyone will have their own criteria and opinions. I'd like to here them. Maybe you can change my opinion...

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