Author(s): William Deresiewicz
Over the last twenty years, art has become more accessible than ever before. A painter can post their latest creation on Instagram and wait as the likes pile up; a budding filmmaker can shoot a clip on their iPhone, then upload it to YouTube for thousands to view. The digital landscape has fundamentally altered what it means to be creative, as well as how consumers interact with artistic production both economically and curatorially. William Deresiewicz, a leading critic of contemporary culture in America, argues that we are in the midst of an epochal transformation within art. Whereas the nineteenth century considered artists to be craftsmen and the twentieth century treated them as professionals, artists today are uniquely dependent upon themselves. The internet, along with decreases in art funding and the growing prevalence of gig economies, has forced artists to become responsible for every aspect of their work, from conception to promotion, from sales to legacy. In The Death of the Artist, Deresiewicz profiles those struggling to make a living through the arts, from the twenty-something college novelist with a multi-hyphenated job title to the midlife painter who must utilize social media to stay relevant. Deresiewicz shows what the birth of the "creative entrepreneur" signifies about our evolving society at large and what might be done to keep artists thriving, because we need them.