The Rise Of The Content Artist
“An art form requires genius. People of genius are always troublemakers, meaning they start from scratch, demolish accepted norms, and rebuild a new world.”
~ Henri Langlois
Let’s get right to it.
Content Creators are becoming Content Artists.
This new art form is emerging. I wrote an article a couple months ago about how social media is becoming an art form. It is.
But you see social media as it now stands is a tricky art. It often is a plug for the main show. It’s the colorful painting on the front of the program when you sit down in the theater to watch the show. It’s the advertising.
I have a history as an actor. I like to bridge it with this new tech / content creation sphere. The way I see it is, we’ve had actors and actresses for a long time. That doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere (they’re not) however new forms of art can always emerge. As they say, the show must go on.
While actors and actresses are humanity’s vessels, content creators are humanity’s messengers.
Before the internet we didn’t have content artists. And as the internet has advanced, so too has the content artist.
“The best way to create value in the 21st Century is to connect Creativity with Technology.”
Which brings me to our favorite Content Artist of them all. The man many of us have a love / hate relationship with. Or just flat out love. Or flat out hate.
I’ve got this theory about Mr. Vaynerchuk.
Gary Vaynerchuk is 2018’s William Shakespeare.
< Laughter. >
Yes, please do!
But he is.
He’s doing it all differently. He is putting out content in different ways, formats, and direction than most and sprinkling it with hot sauce.
When Shakespeare was writing in the late 1500’s people were shell-shocked. They didn’t know what to think.
In a Kibin article an author wrote:
What makes Shakespeare unlike any other writer of his time, is his ability to organize a realistic plot, manage themes, and develop characters within his works (Nordling). As well, Shakespeare’s ability to provoke feeling and reaction to his writing is also what sets him apart from other common writers.
When the internet moves into “Content Artistry” (my term for it) which we are inevitably at the precipice of, Vaynerchuk will be remembered as the one guy who banged down all barriers and pushed people in that direction. The guy who spoke in a language nobody at the time had heard of or seen before. Shakespeare did the same thing.
Vaynerchuk speaks differently. Shakespeare wrote differently.
Both of them are heavily criticized.
Laura Estill writes in a column for British Council:
One mid-17th century commentary on Hamlet is found in Abraham Wright’s notebook (now held at the British Library). Wright criticised Hamlet as ‘an indifferent [mediocre] play, the lines but mean [average].’
Here’s a fascinating article by Stacy Conradt discussing the other famous figures from centuries ago who heavily criticized Shakespeare:
“Voltaire called Shakespeare’s works an “enormous dunghill.”
Tolstoy was equally unimpressed, calling Will’s writing “Crude, immoral, vulgar and senseless.”
George Bernard Shaw really waxed poetic about how much he hated Shakespeare. “There is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare,” he said. “It would be positively a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.” But there was a writer he hated more — Homer.
British poet Walter Savage Landor had no love lost for the prolific writer either, and apparently would have been a great fit at Saveur or Bon Appetit: “The sonnets are hot and pothery, there is much condensation, little delicacy, like raspberry jam without cream, without crust, without bread.”
Charles Darwin may just have been too evolved for Shakespeare: “I have tried lately to read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that is nauseated me.””
Gary Vee speaks in different verbage than most. He bangs out content in different ways than many. He pisses people off. He’s often a mother f-cker to watch because he gets so pissed off. But end of the day, he’s real. And I dig that about him.
But let me digress for a second. In the 1500’s and 1600’s going to the theater was an EXPERIENCE. You were taken to an imaginary land that nobody had seen before. The same happened at the dawn of film at the turn of the 20th Century.
This same thing is happening in the world of modern-day social media, marketing, and content.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s check in with our good friend Seth Godin.
He wrote on his blog:
Experiences and your fear of engagement
Want to go visit a nudist colony?
I don’t know, what’s it like?
You know, a lot of people not wearing clothes.
Show me some pictures, then I’ll know.
Well, actually, you won’t.
You won’t know what it’s like merely by looking at a picture of a bunch of naked people.
The only way you’ll know what it’s like is if you get seen by a bunch of naked people. The only way to have the experience is to have the experience.
Not by looking at the experience.
You better believe online content is just that. An experience. And this experience is being taken to the next level of interactive online content. And we have a few early pioneers pushing it forward. A few of my favorites you should check out are:
Sunny Lenarduzzi (The Oprah of Content Artists):
Sean Cannell (Think Media):
Bryant Chambers (The Bryant Chambers Movement):
We need to start recognizing the fact that all of this really is a new different type of art that we haven’t seen before. We are in the genesis of it. These people are the early settlers.
I’ll say it again:
While actors and actresses are humanity’s vessels, content creators are humanity’s messengers.
As a content artist myself I try to keep tabs on myself.
And a key thing I monitor myself on is respecting my audience. Content Artists must respect their audience just as painters respect those viewing their art at a museum or performers respect the audience at their play. It goes both ways. We are just all now coming in to realize this. It works both ways.
While it is about sales, one must remember as content artists we are also entertaining, educating, and inspiring our audience.
We have to respect that a little more. It’s why I’m not the biggest fan of using marketing tactics to trick the viewer to gain viewership. This is along the same lines as my rant about email marketers a few weeks ago. If the viewer wants to view you they’ll be there. And they’ll buy tickets.
My social media is doing the advertising. I don’t need to trick my viewers. And I’m aware my viewers are often smarter than I think.
For example, one of the very few things I don’t fully agree with Vee (Shakespeare) about “Document Don’t Create”.
I opinion on this is as a means to create content that advertises, yes. As a means to straight content, no. It’s fine for beginners I guess. Maybe in improv class. But not beyond that.
My point is content artists in general actually do need to give a video some thought before rambling on camera for hours on end for it to be considered content. We have to have some respect for the craft and our audience. Perhaps consider having some decent lighting. Maybe learn to edit or have an editor.
By documenting you ARE creating. But going live just to go live doesn’t respect the viewer. It also reveals a bit too much and saturates you.
Some level of preparation is necessary no matter what type of content you are creating.
Otherwise it’s like people watching improvisation class. That’s fun for a bit but grows boring when you realize someone’s just talking about eating trailmix, drinking scotch, and watching Howard The Duck. (yes that’s been me before)
“God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things.”
But when it comes to Social Media (advertising) that is different. It can be random, unprepared, and “documented.”
There is a difference between Content and Content that advertises
Social Media Content is advertising. Random can be ok in advertising because it keeps the audience off guard and brings mystery. It’s the marketing window to the content. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope might wish they were YouTube and Medium. But they’re not. At least not yet.
YouTube and Medium are the Theater or the paper you paint on. And yeah viewers can come in and see your work.
YouTube and Medium are the show. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope are the billboards, advertisements, commercials, and programs advertising the show.
Another big question. Is advertising art? I think it is. It’s at minimum an extension of it. That’s why I think Social Media is also art however the key to remember is social media is art that advertises the show (content).
Now this might change I don’t know. Many social networks seem to want to be the show rather than the art advertising the show. But you can’t market yourself as a social network (basically like the new marketing company) then say hey you can also screen your movie here or put up live theater in our atrium.
Imagine if people walked into POPULAR MECHANICS or US WEEKLY Magazine and said we would love to put on a play in your foyer.
I think the magazine might be a bit confused.
That’s what I think is going on here that we all haven’t fully realized yet.
But hear this…
Life doesn’t make any sense, why should social media?
So on the marketing side (social media) it is fun to be random and keep your audience off guard. But don’t use it as your only means for content. Use it as a mechanism for advertising.
Vaynerchuk (Shakespeare) knows this and talks about it all the time. How each social media platform must be respected differently and utilized differently. Billboards and commercials are utilized differently right?
We don’t see 45 second TV commercials on billboards. By then the car has driven by. We don’t see a billboard on TV as a commercial for 30 seconds. Imagine us having to stare at a billboard in our living room TV for 30 seconds. It would get boring.
Ok What about documenting?
Documenting is ok under certain circumstances. It’s only great for quick moments and / or as a means to advertise.
The live option is great for little quick moments into your life (this is why Instagram Stories is so brilliant) or to answer questions from your audience. And there’s content. Content is providing some sort of entertainment, inspiration, or educational value for the viewer by giving them a prepared show.
When we go to the movies we don’t sit there and watch movie stars not prepared and just winging it with what they got at the grocery store do we? Even if it’s improv, that’s fun for one night but we the viewer like some scripted value too.
Where is that mysterious line between Content and Social Media Content?
With every passing day it’s becoming more clear. But there’s a difference.
In conclusion I’ll leave you with a quote from Pablo Picasso that I love:
“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
One could say the same thing about YouTube or Medium. The museums of the time (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) then distributed his paintings.
We are here. A new form of art is emerging.
The rise of the Content Artist is upon us.
Humanity’s messengers have arrived.
By Geoff Pilkington
You can connect with me at: www.geoffreypilkington.com