IRJE #3: You can’t eat art . . . 

Michael Chabon explores the artistry and acumen of Will Eisner in the essay, ‘Thoughts on the Death of Will Eisner’ from his book, Maps and Legends. Chabon attributes Eisner’s wildly successful career as a comic book creator to not only his talent as an illustrator, but his skill as a businessman. The dichotomy that artists must choose to either be righteous and starving, or a shameful sellout is discussed.

Sometimes it’s hard, trying to make art you know you can sell without feeling you are selling it out. And then sometimes it’s hard to sell the art you have made honestly without regard to whether or not anyone will ever want to buy it. You hope to spend your life doing what you love and need and have been fitted by nature or God or your protein-package to do: write, draw, sing, tell stories. But you have to eat. Will Eisner knew that. (p. 143)

As an aspiring artist, I wonder about my future. This passage leads me to wonder; do artists make art for themselves or for others? Personally, I make art that I like without much considerations to what anyone else thinks. But when I am older, if I want to survive as an artist, I realize I will need patrons. Will this affect the art I create? In society, the role artists play is to initiate new perspectives and spark reflection on who we are. Art is the impetus to contemplate divergent views. If artists are simply creating what people want to see, then art is not serving its purpose.

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