These are two excerpts from a paper I wrote a few years ago at the end of my first semester in grad school. I think the ideas that I was playing with feed into much of the spirit that we want to create with the Indie Way Project.
What are our needs as individual artists? How are the needs of the individual artist connected to community and collaboration? How can we combine individual artistic expression with the creation of a collaborative community in pursuing a fulfilling career path?
The career path of the artist has always been much more difficult to define than most professions as the very nature of the arts is to defy conventional thought and conventional practices. It is in this spirit that we as artists must create a new set of priorities and new goals defined by our own individual destinies on our own terms, both individually as well as collectively. In this, there is a necessary coexistence of our needs as individuals and the necessity of a community that lives and works together in a true spirit of collaboration. In Valuing the Self Dorothy Lee describes the true autonomous individual as one who is developed through collaboration with a supportive community. At the same time, the survival of a community is contingent upon members who exercise that autonomy, benefiting their own needs while lifting up the needs of their community. As for artists, we cannot advance in isolation and without a connection to our community, and we are of no use to our community without intense self- reflection and a life lived to its fullest extent that feeds our own individual artistic expression.
If we are in touch with who we are as individuals and reflect that in our artwork, it will inherently be original in many ways. Unfortunately, the nature of competition in our society stresses productivity and being able to keep up with the current trends. This can sometimes make our pursuit for originality difficult. It is with the artist community where honest expression is more often valued over market value and productivity. I call for the artist community to become increasingly independent and self- sufficient. Collaboration among the artist community need not be confined to the creation of new works of art. Collaboration of our resources allows us to sustain ourselves and make our goals as artists the priority. The internet has become a powerful tool for the artist. It allows us to communicate and share pertinent information for a collective good. There are resources available for the artist. Finding out about those resources and sharing them with the artist community is a powerful asset to move toward self-sustenance. Together we can also build the audience community. An artist’s following is also a resource that can be expanded and shared as well as a necessary part of the artist’s experience that is mutually beneficial. The more aware an audience community is of all that an artist community has to offer, the more involved they become in the collaboration.