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Inspiration as Currency, and Interview With Bret Blevins

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Artists influence our culture, but what influences the artists? Inspired art has always shaped the culture around us, though it's a relatively new concept that art would be used for individual profit rather than community enrichment. What are the differences between art that is created for the pleasure of personal expression or with the intention of conveying inspiration versus art created for the sole purpose of selling a product or lifestyle? Both forms of art still influence and shape the culture around us, but in different ways.

For example, when large companies are deciding which music to play on the radio, they do surveys. They ask people to vote on a scale of one to five, with five being the favorite and one being the least favorite. Since people have varying opinions, the music that receives the most fives also is the same music that receives the most ones. It goes to reason that if some people really love it, others will really hate it, whereas the music that receives consistent threes elicits the least positive or negative feeling and is therefore the music that gets picked for airplay. Commercial media seeks the largest target to make the most sales.

As individuals become more empowered to be creators of art in the form of media, instead of purely consumers of media, it will continue to shape the language of the medium. Twenty years ago, you wouldn't be likely to see a film that was purely created for the passion of a cause, because the production costs would have demanded a financial return.

The messages that define who we are as people and our responsibilities as an emerging global community may not be profitable in dollars (in fact, they may be the death of business as usual), but their value in terms of social equity is priceless. This is the dawn of an era where inspiration and meaning have become their own form of currency. Financial influence continues to be exposed for its flaws of hollow self interest at the expense of many things valued by a healthy community.

Though there is an endless discussion to be had when we talk about sexualization and body-image, demeaning messages in rap music, violence in video games and how it shapes our culture and affects children, but the bottom line is the bottom line when the intention is to sell a product. Our media and art have been shaped by the invisible hand of finance that lacks the integrity and accountability that art and artists should uphold for the sake of the greater community. Blogger and marketing expert Amy Jussel continues to carry the torch on this particular topic through her site, Shaping Youth.

Though short-term financial gain is always tempting, art almost always outlives the artist. What is the creative legacy of our generation, and how will the future define us through the art we leave behind?

Master artist Bret Blevins has some very balanced and insightful perspectives on the pros and cons of these different influences within commercial media and our culture. As a commercial artist for over 20 years, illustrating and making storyboards for Disney, Warner Brothers, Marvel, DC, Darkhorse and others, you have probably seen his work on many occasions.

The same way that we make conscious choices about our food and where it comes from, we must also make our media diet reflect our desire to live a healthy and inspired life. The birth of independent media, and the democratization of the media through the digital revolution is a hopeful sign for the return of art for the purpose of enriching the community, personal expression and shaping the future of our culture in a healthy and inspired way.

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