The following little gem is something that a prof gave to myself and fellow students in our Foundation year at BealArt (London, Ontario)back in 1987!! I’m sure it was meant to scare the good idea that we thought becoming artists was, out of us. It played the opposite magic on me and has served to fuel my creative survival fire for this many years. Thanks to internet and email, I was able to connect the words with the author, then connect with the author himself. So, thank-you to Clive Robertson for writing the words, speaking out in support of practicing creativity for a living and giving me permission to re-print his original publication. The version that I am familiar with (actually, I practically have it memorized after years of posting it on bulletin boards in countless studios) is slightly different, so I will post this one to start and ‘mine’ later!
RHETORIC ON THE RUN (c. 1983,1985) by Clive Robertston
ARTISTS, ARTISTS ARE A VERY SERIOUS PEOPLE
THEY HAVE SOMETHING CALLED WORK
WHICH LOOKS LIKE FUN, READS LIKE FUN, SOUNDS LIKE FUN BUT IS
ANYTHING BUT FUN.
WHEN YOU‘RE AN ARTIST PEOPLE TRY THEIR HARDEST
TO TELL YOU THAT THE WORLD IS NOT ARTISTCENTRIC,
THAT YOUR INDIVIDUALISM IS GIVING YOU A BAD NAME,
THAT THE HISTORY OF YOUR EXISTENCE IS FIVE PARTS MYTHOLOGY,
TWO PARTS NOSTALGIA.
THAT YOU ARE A FIGMENT OF SOMEONE
ELSE’S PATRONLY IMAGINATION
THAT YOU’RE A WHORE, A LIAR, A THIEF, A PARASITE, THAT YOU’RE A
HOAX, THAT WHAT YOU’VE SPENT FIFTEEN YEARS DEVELOPING
COULD BE CARRIED OUT IN ONE HOUR BY A WELL-FED CHIMPANZEE.
ARTISTS DO NOT STRIVE TO BE DIFFERENT,
ARTISTS JUST DO NOT LIKE THE SAME SAME THAT YOU DO.
ARTISTS ARE GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY, THEY SPEND THEIR TOURIST
DOLLARS WITHIN HALF A MILE OF WHERE THEY LIVE
EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG, ARTISTS LOVE TO
MAKE AND WEAR WEIRD CLOTHES
IN THE LAST SIXTY YEARS, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS HAVE BEEN MADE
FROM THE BACKS OF ARTISTS.
ARTISTS MAKE MUSIC. WHEN YOU FIRST HEAR IT IT MAKES YOU
NERVOUS. IF YOU WAIT FIVE OR TEN YEARS IT’LL MAKE YOU FAMOUS
ARTISTS DONT WANT TO BE FAMOUS
THEY JUST WANT LESS PUBLIC INDIFFERENCE
ARTISTS ARE CALLED UPON TO PROVIDE YOUR LEISURE, PROVIDE
PROVIDE A NEIGHBOURHOOD THAT YOUR BUSINESSES CAN THEN
PROVIDE YOUR RUNNING SHOES INTO WHICH YOU CAN SLIP
— IN ORDER TO LOSE SOME OF YOUR EXCESS INTELLECTUAL WEIGHT.
ARTISTS DECORATE, RELOCATE, MACHINATE, CONSERVATIZE,
CLOSE THEIR EYES, JEOPARDIZE AND CAUTERIZE THEMSELVES
– ONE FROM ANOTHER.
ONE MINUTE THERE’ S NOT ENOUGH ARTISTS TO GO AROUND AND
BEFORE YOU KNOW IT THE SITUATION GET’S SO BAD YOU’VE GOT TO
CALL IN THE FUMIGATOR.
ARTISTS ARE GREAT MIMICS, ARTISTS MAKE GREAT NEWSFILLERS,
ARTISTS KNOW THAT JOURNALISTS ARE ARTISTS WHO HAVE BEEN
TIED AND GAGGED AND THROWN IN THE CORNER.
ARTISTS DO NOT BELONG TO ANY ONE CLASS OF PEOPLE:
THERE ARE ARTISTS WORKERS, ARTIST POSERS, ARTIST ENTREPRENEURS,
ARTIST MANAGERS, SEXIST ARTISTS, RACIST ARTISTS, ARTISTS WHO WORK TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO, AND ARTISTS WHO DIE HAVING FAILING
TO DESTROY IT.
THERE ARE ARTISTS LIVING IN THE TUNDRA, ARTISTS LIVING IN THE
SUBURBS, THERE ARE ARTISTS WHO COULDN’T MAKE A PROFIT IF YOU
BOUGHT THEM OUT ONCE A YEAR FROM NOW UNTIL THE END OF THEIR
SWEET SWEET LIVES.
ARTISTS WANT CONTROL OF THEIR OWN LIVES,
ARTISTS WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS,
ARTISTS GET SICK OF HEARING THE WORD ‘ARTIST,’
ARTISTS DONT WANT YOU TO FORGET WHO THEY ARE.
ARTISTS NEED ENCOURAGEMENT.
TALK TO AN ARTIST, DRINK WITH AN ARTIST,
SLEEP WITH AN ARTIST, TELL AN ARTIST A JOKE ,
TELL AN ARTIST A LIE, TELL AN ARTIST “ALL IS FORGIVEN.”
“ANYONE CAN BECOME AN ARTIST” ALL IT TAKES IS SELF-DETERMINATION, SOME FORM OF ADOLESCENT GRUDGE, A LITTLE NEUROSIS, OPTIONAL ALLERGIES, GOOD CIRCULATION, A BAD APPETITE, A THICK SKIN, A FEW IDEALS ….ROMANTIC OR OTHERWISE.
Written by Clive Robertson, Reproduced with kind permission of Clive Robertson, 2010
Originally publishes in Parallelogram, Vol.8, No.5
1983 and distributed in various arts related venues.
It is currently part of a touring one person exhibition ‘Then + Then Again’, last domestic stop in Calgary, 2011.
Check out youtube for vintage footage from a 1983 rally against arts cuts and a ‘sung’ version.