Us vs. Them

Us vs. Them
November 8, 2016 Andrea Muhlbauer
normal people

Artists and normal people. Artists tend to talk about ourselves as if we’re somehow different from other people. At least not like normal people. We’re weird, we’re unique, we’re special. While this language seems harmless and silly, it can be pretty detrimental to artists…

An artist’s job is to communicate with their audience. The audience’s experience is the end product of any creative process, and it’s always the main goal of the artist. So when we talk about ourselves as separate from ‘normal people,’ we run into a problem. The problem with language that invokes US vs. THEM is that it can create distance between an artist and their audience, making it difficult for an artist to relate to or connect with their audience. Without a connection, the artist’s job of communication is nearly impossible.

Here’s the thing about ‘artists’ and ‘normal people:’ The only difference between someone who works in the arts and someone who doesn’t work in the arts is that one of them works in the arts and the other one doesn’t. That’s it. The only difference is in job title. We’re all people and we all have a job to do. The only differences are in our perception.

Consider this detrimental effect of US vs. THEM language – something I like to call the artist bubble, which is the concept that artists become isolated from people who don’t work in the arts. The bubble effect can happen when artists perceive themselves as different from normal people, and, in turn, only spend time with other artists. By isolating themselves, the bubble-effected artists are only practicing how to communicate with people who spend as much time thinking about art as they do, again making it difficult to connect to the people in the audience with different interests.

The artist bubble is all in our perception, but it can have some very real effects on artists and their work. Our job as artists is ALWAYS to communicate with our audience. In order to do that, we have to be able to communicate with all people, not just people with similar interests to ours. The truth is that artists and normal people actually have a lot in common – we DO have a lot of common ground to talk about with our work. So the next time you’re comparing the arts to any other career, consider the similarities over the differences. You’ll find that we have much more in common than you may expect…


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