When you enter a creative field you will encounter the constant struggle of Art V. Commerce. The idealistic starving artists often square off with the commercially successful popular ones. Freedom V. Rules Passion V. Money Want V. Survival
Idealistic people will tell you that, you should follow your dream, do what you want and have no regrets, but is that manageable?
Are artists doomed to lives of selling graphic images for car companies and beer commercials? Or does the illusive balance of kicking ass and making money exist out there?
Those who experience a commercial success will be constantly brandished with the term "Sell Out". If you make money and you're a musician, or an actress or an artist if you have commercial success, the people who only see the "art" side of things will exile you from their little community and call you a traitor. You could be adored by millions, help countless people and still not be respected as an artist, which fucking sucks. In exchange for being kicked out of the cool kids club and branded as a pseudo-masochistic pariah, you can experience commercial success. Monetary compensation is just the tip of the iceberg for most, who later learn that that fame is a dirty road filled with potholes and broken down things, but ultimately creates that immortality that people inherently long for. Arguably the goal of every artist could be to help others, to create accessible things that last and make an impression on the public, or their specific audience. Who wouldn't want to make a big impact and help people?
I don't know, assholes? The reality of art and commerce revolves around one thing: compromise. Take this for instance: The idealists who splatter blood on canvasses and chant wildly in a per formative way are happy what they're doing even if no one's watching right? I think that's important too, but for commercial success to creep up on that same blood splattering maniac, and for it to become a phenomenon requires a bit of compromise by the audience and the artist. The audience branches out, and the artist, well, the artist makes money and grows it's base for exploration. The funny thing that happens then, is that same artist will switch from blood to red paint to appease the audience, then in stead of doing abstract things, they'll do portraits, and sooner or later they'll lose themself completely, and in turn become dissatisfied and unhappy. That, I think is the true definition of selling out, realizing that your art doesn't serve you any more. Even if it makes Billions of dollars and still serves your agenda, you're not a sell out, you're brilliant.
Take the band Green Day for instance. They are a band that never compromised their integrity, ideas or their style. They took risks constantly and created a lasting impression not only on punk fans, but pop, rock, and even Broadway consumers. They make money, but they're still true to themselves and their sound without compromise or doubt. Yet, they're branded as sell outs, traitors of the punk rock ideal and pariahs of a dying genre. The most punk thing on the planet is to go off the beaten path, and Green Day definitely did that. What other punk band could pull off a Broadway Musical and broaden the spectrum of people consuming punk music all while remaining ultra cool and dangerous? That's right, you can't think of anyone else because there isn't anyone else.
The point I'm trying to make here is that in order to make great art you have to be able to connect. I'm totally subject to doing shit that's too insular, and I can feel it take a toll on me. It's not about money or fame. It's about a connection, a will to listen and a will to expand your consciousness. To be repetitive is to be boring, and if you're called a sell out for innovating or gaining popularity for art that you are passionate about and stand by, then God Damn it, embrace it! Because the only true way to sell out is to stop trying.
Being a part of anything mainstream is not bad at all. It means that you're changing what is massively consumed by people, and isn't that what we all want? To improve and change the world around us? So go ahead, call me a sell out because it's better than not giving a shit.