Is it the case that creative acts cannot be sustained? With hindsight, and exposure to the complete oeuvre of artists long past, it’s quite clear that the earliest works are not universally the best. Yet, how many of us are as excited for album seven from our favorite band to drop as we were for their sophomore efforts? How often is the fifth series by an author the one we’ve been waiting for? Is webcomic number 2124 as exciting as number 32?
I am now in my mid thirties. Most of the creative forces that have shaped my taste continue to produce art, and most of it feels hollow.
Maybe there’s something about the relentless need to generate more to make a living off of art that zaps it of its power. Maybe today’s artists have to continue to create out of commercial, rather than artistic necessity. Maybe being a cornerstone in my aesthetic foundations requires giving way to the future edifice it anchors. Maybe we are monsters, and artists are doomed to fail their fans who demand an impossible balance between expectations of familiarity and the demand for novelty.
In a world with so much, easily accessible art, I am glad I can still find new works that excite me. I am also grateful that I can continue to enjoy the work I already know and love. But I worry about how this impacts the economics of art in our world, and it feels like a raw deal for anyone creative.
As a fan, it seems I will always drift away from the artist, even if their best work is ahead.