I've been listening to Amanda Palmer's new album Theatre is Evil on repeat since it came out. I had the wonderful opportunity to see her play live a couple of years ago and it was an experience I haven't forgotten.
But the new album started me thinking about art. When I think about Amanda Palmer, I don't think about her as a singer. I consider her an artist. She doesn't have the most impressive voice I've ever heard, but that does zero to detract from how amazing she is. Listening to AFP is an experience. You don't just listen to her, you hear the words and feel the emotions and see the pictures she's painting. Even beyond that, everything she does is part of the art. The design of the jacket liner, the way she dresses, the shows she performs. She doesn't just sing songs, she performs them.
Compare someone like Amanda Palmer to other popular singers. Is what someone like Justin Bieber does considered art? Or is he just a singer? A talented singer, yes, but still just a singer. Is there any art to it?
Are popular writers like Michael Crichton just writers? Or are their books art? I've got nothing against Crichton. I've enjoyed a number of his books, but sometimes they feel so bland and paint-by-numbers. If they're art, maybe they're the Thomas Kincade of art. People love them, but they don't challenge.
What makes one thing art and another not art? I would argue that someone like Celine Dion is an amazing singer despite the fact that I don't really care for her music, but I would never call her an artist. Why not? She could sing circles around Amanda Palmer, but AFP's work moves me. It makes me think. It challenges me. Is that why it's art and Dion's is just music?
I think about these things when I write. I wonder if I'm simply writing a story or if I'm making art. It's not a question easily answered because I'm not sure where the line between writing and art truly is. It's not solely about popularity. Harry Potter is art in my opinion while Stephen King is not. Maybe it's a personal distinction.
Either way, I think the important thing isn't defining that distinction but merely the act of trying to define it. Maybe that's what makes someone an artist rather than a writer. Maybe simply attempting to elevate their work is enough.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Speak up and be heard. What makes one book art and another just a book?