Is art today being designed less about being creative, and more about trying to go viral?

This is the hypothesis of an Australian artist and illustrator, Struthless, who outlined his view in this youtube video:

I think he makes some interesting points.

Many artists have seen huge success and have gained access to an audience of millions of people if their work is shared, or even goes viral, on social media sites or distribution platforms like spotify.

This can be a godsend for many artists, who up until only a few years ago might have been at the mercy of the gatekeepers in an industry (book publishers, music labels, art galleries etc) to choose them, distribute their work and help them find a wide-scale audience.

However, if an artist finds success, there can then be pressure to continue doing what made them succeed.

Continue to produce what they know the algorithms liked, and pushed to more people.

The algorithm does not know what it is seeing. It just knows that it is “content“, and judging by how people interact with this content, the algorithm decides if it will benefit (make more money) by letting more people see this content, or push something else that is getting more engagement.

In artistic terms, this could mean trying to repeat what worked previously, leading to work which is so similar to what was produced previously that it becomes derivative and boring.

This may not be what the artist wants to produce.

They may even become frustrated or burned out.

But they fear what will happen if they change what they are creating.

Or what would happen if they stop creating for a while, and that the algorithm may punish them for not constantly creating content.

Additionally, for many artists nowadays, their worth and value to sponsors and record companies is directly related to how many followers they have on these digital platforms. So there is not only a pressure to not do anything which might cause those follower numbers to drop (such as not posting content for an extended time period), there is tremendous pressure to keep posting “content” to keep gaining more followers.

Experimentation is now a risk to their core asset – Struthless

Rather than using that time to create more impactful art.

It also shows the importance for artists to be in control of their own platforms.

If you as an artist are dependent on an algorithm or digital platform to distribute your creations and get views, let alone customers, then there will always be the pressure to produce work which is designed to

And as we have seen many times, the companies who own the platform will often change the algorithm in order to profit more themselves.

This can make it hard for an artist to focus on developing their own style, their own voice, as well as their own individual skills, if they worry that the algorithm could change at any moment.

Real art, real creativity with an individual voice, takes time.

Not just to produce, but to evolve and develop in the artist’s identity.

And it can change over time.

Look at artists like David Bowie or Prince, who decided that what was important to them was to push themselves and change over time.

Even if you have a smaller audience, if they really love what you are producing, you can have a successful creative career. Even if you only have 1000 true fans.

Art is more than just “content”.

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Creativity & Innovation expert: I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love. Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as one of the most influential innovation bloggers.