Like a lot of people, I’ve experienced a definite shift in my perspective as I’ve emerged from the long COVID lock down and started the long trek back to whatever “normal” will be from here on out. I’ve also had to seriously reprioritize how I use my time pursuing my (sometimes too many) creative endeavors because I have also picked up an interesting and steady gig that is taking up a lot of the time I used to have to write, read, and generally “make stuff.” Now my “free” time is a more precious commodity, and some creative projects are going to have to drop down several notches on the priority list for a while.
I also have to admit that Bo Burnham’s recent Netflix special “INSIDE” hit home a bit more than a regular “comedy special” does. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do, even if you’re not a Bo Burnham fan. His “show” really digs into the downside of this new world where constant and endless “content creation” has become an obsession that diminishes every creative endeavor to a piece of data seeking a hack or “marketing solution” that’ll get it more of those precious, precious “views” and “likes.” It seems to be a given that, if you want to “build and audience,” you have to spend more time promoting your work online than you spend actually creating it, which is not a recipe for creating insightful or high-quality work. …and if you happen to already have a large online following, then you’ll be endlessly looped into feeding their voracious content hunger, on their terms, not yours, which is a recipe for burn-out and disillusionment for sure.
I have fallen into this trap too. Case in point: Through my Blunt Farce persona and vaporous “Production Company” I’ve been putting out a weekly Bud Fallbrook animated “talk show” for the past four months, during which time I’ve used up an embarrassing amount of mental bandwidth fretting about “views” and a lack of new subscribers. I’ve also stuck to a ‘formula’ and a “new show every Monday” deadline, whether I’m feeling inspired or not.Why? Because “post regularly” is the mantra for Youtubers looking to build an audience. …so some episodes feel like a death march, and look as uninspired as they felt in the making. Compare that to the original version of Bud Fallbrook from (eeks!) ten years ago, which was a surreal, Dadaist adventure cartoon, that I put out sporadically, only whenever I had an idea and the time needed to animate it. The result back then? Over 100,000+ views of five episodes, even though they were scattered over a nearly two year period. It was creative work done for creative reasons, not a “concept for delivering content on a regular schedule.” and the difference (in quality and in passion) is pretty evident.
Don’t get me wrong, self-imposed deadlines are often an important part of the creative process (mine anyway,) but it has to be for the right reasons. You may or may not have ever noticed the link to my weekly “Another LA Cartoon” in the left sidebar of this website. Every Thursday since January 2009, I have posted a manipulated digital photo there (with a few hiatus due to computer problems or personal issues.) Now I have an archive of nearly 600 images. Even though I “sell myself” here on this website as a “writer” and “performer” and “Film/Video” guy, I’ve also been creating visual images/art in photos, film and even paint since my 80’s Art School days. I never stopped making the stuff, but I’ve also never really shared it publicly in any meaningful or specific way. These LA Cartoons are a good case in point; these images are a real “body of work” on their own and aren now part of my “visual art” portfolio. Sure, they were done under deadline and posted online, but for my own reasons. As with any long term project, some of those images are more successful than others I know, but a small percentage of them are pretty solid and have resonated with people. So, just a few months ago, I started submitting some of them to appropriate small art galleries and “group shows” around the city. Last month I got my first ever gallery placement at a cool space in Los Angeles called Shoebox Arts and just this week got word that another gallery, the Las Laguna Art Gallery (in Laguna, obviously) will be including one of my LA Cartoon panels in an upcoming group show. I am thrilled that such a long-term project, started just to please myself, and never “marketed,” is starting to generate some interest, even if it never garnered a huge, viral, online following.
In order to now keep track of this aspect of my creative endeavors, I’m going to be creating a new page here on this website for my ‘visual art’ projects and I’m finally going to integrate links to my Blunt Farce website and Blunt Farce-related projects (such as this one, and this one.) here too. The fact that I am/was “Blunt Farce” was never an actual “secret.” I wasn’t trying to be some kind of low-budget Banksy. Anyone could have figured it out with just one or two mouse-clicks. I guess I tried to keep Blunt Farce separate from my PlanetOConnor stuff because BF is where I tried out whatever I wanted to experiment with. Not “professional” or even “polished” stuff, just whatever I felt/feel like making from deep in my weirdo, neo-DaDaist heart. …but I’m realizing now that, for better or worse, it all comes under the heading of “stuff I do.” So expect that new “page” to appear on the website sometime soon.
In the meantime: keep making the magic happen for yourselves.
Be your own best audience.
From one Summer to the next. Nearly a year has passed since my last post. Even though returning visitors will notice that a lot has changed on the rest of my website here and I’ve definitely been busy, there just hasn’t been anything worth writing about when compared to the current state of the world.
As I type this on an evening where there are still curfews in several American cities and a pandemic is still claiming the lives of far too many people every day, I realize there isn’t much I can add to the discussion of a still-unfolding national horror show that even The Simpsons predicted 20 years ago. All this bad news and chaos has, more than anything else could have, really put a spotlight on the inequities in our current system and it has stripped away whatever thin veneer people were still using to pretend they were doing OK. Now the truth is out. People everywhere are struggling, and have been for a long, long time. That kind of insecurity breeds fear and clears the stage for enterprising sociopaths to set the fires of Hate burning. The current inferno we’re neck-deep in was as predictable as it is heartbreaking. The hope I’m clinging to is that this will be a real turning point in America. The times are extraordinary and the stakes, at least in my lifetime, have never been higher. …and I honestly don’t know at this point if the good guys will win or not, but it can’t stop any of us from trying. When this veil of horror is finally lifted, we better be ready with some new perspectives.
Be safe everyone. Do whatever it takes to remain hopeful. Take care of each other, and keep working.