“Artists don’t address themselves to audiences: they create audiences. The artist talks to himself out loud. If what he has to stay is significant, others hear and are affected.” – Edmund Snow Carpenter
I came across this YouTube video by Vi Hart, a mathematician and creator. Carpenter’s decades-old message is still relevant today, as Hart demonstrates. On many levels, I agree with the message of Hart and Carpenter.
As a writer, I consider myself an artist. I use my skills and creativity to create sentences, paragraphs and stories full of rhythm and cadence, and details and facts, all working together to inform and entertain. But as a journalist, I am not just talking to myself out loud. I must consider my audience, my readers. I’m not necessarily “addressing myself to an audience” as Carpenter called it, but I owe a sense of respect and honesty to the audience. I cannot merely talk (or write) out loud to myself because I must go where the reporting leads me. I follow the facts, take in the interviews and glean the pertinent information before I begin to weave together my words, sentences and paragraphs. So, am I still an artist?
I like think I can be both an artist and a journalist. I respect artists who refuse to cater to anything but their creativity, who release whatever is in their soul in whatever form they choose, letting us discover their art and love their art. But I think art is as fluid as everything else in this world. There is no one way to do anything.
The most important message in this video is Hart’s assertion that “Reaching a wider audience is not worth sacrificing your content.” I think artists and journalists and those of us in between should agree on this.