Should we dumb down our art?

If our art is not resonating, we may need to dumb it down (or not).

“I dumb down for my audience. And double my dollars,” rhymes Jay-Z in his track ‘Moment of Clarity' from The Black Album.

If we follow Jay-Z's strategy, we'll almost certainly attract more attention.

People enjoy things they are familiar with — whether it's a popular style beat, expression, or cliched Instagram pose. Social media helps solidify the harmonization of tastes.

But we live in the best possible age to be weird and eclectic.

While the internet rewards those who play it safe with likes and shares — it is in the effort to be genuinely different that one attracts a more ardent following.

Witness Beeple – the graphic artist has created a new piece of art every day for twelve years whether it “sucks ass” or not. And his creative infectiousness spread, so much that he caught the eye of Louis Vuitton.

Our creative work is rarely popular. As Seth Godin says, “The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”

Sophistication doesn't scale. But that doesn't mean we should cheapen our work to manufacture the hits — if we're lucky enough to have one. Produce something for the masses and we'll be stuck at the hamster wheel of the same canvass forever.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut

In this age, we're better off making for ourselves first and then marketing our work to the micro-market. Seeking out uniqueness is important, especially when it's so easy to adopt the conformist style.

As makers, we must remain unpredictable and experimental, never leaving our authenticity open to doubt.


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