Artistic currency

In the past I’ve mentioned my belief that a lot of artistic products like paintings, cds and books have a value that can’t be entirely captured by notions of cash. They have a value in what I call social currency. If you paint a painting and can’t sell it for three dollars you still might impress your neighbor enough that he offers to walk your dog each week. If you’re in a popular band that loses money at every gig but you manage to impress and sleep with every starry eyed, lice ridden groupie in town, you’re getting something out of the effort; it hasn’t been a total loss. This, I think, explains a lot of why people pursue the arts even though common sense tells them they’re not likely to make much money.

However, I think that social currency is tied to aspects of real currency. I think part of the subconscious appeal of sleeping with a musician or artist is that, “hey, this might be the one that breaks it big and they’ll take me along for the ride.” The artist may not have cash, but there’s a promise of cash. However, as I’ve also said, I think the digitization of artistic projects is reducing their value to close to nil. Which means soon there won’t be any real promise of any kind of payout. At which point an artists’ value in both real and social currency is lowered. Sleeping with an artist will make about as much sense as sleeping with a plumber. Except plumbers smell better.

2 Responses to “Artistic currency”


  1. John Saleeby

    Oh, you’re absolutely right about how the digitization of artistic projects is reducing their value to close to nil. I’ve been writing regularly for an internet humor zine for more than a decade and I haven’t made a dime!

    If you need to contact some one but don’t have their address, just ask Spike Lee and he’ll tweet their address for you free of charge! He’s a Helpful Guy, that Spike!

  2. Wil

    Great – so soon addresses won’t be worth anything. That’ll finish off the housing market.