- by Barney Davey
When you can successfully tie your talent into your heart, your head and your religious beliefs together, you stand to benefit on multiple levels.
Last March, I published a post titled, The Next Big Thing. It prompted Watts Wacker, the futurist who was the subject of the post, to kindly sent me a copy of What’s Your Story?: Storytelling to Move Markets, Audiences, People, and Brands, a book he co-authored with his long-time collaborator with Ryan Matthews. I’ve only begun to read it and already found it fascinating and I’m sure more ideas for posts will follow this one.
Books on Religion and Spirituality Fuel Bookstore Growth
To illustrate how things change, Wacker’s book mentions the growth of certain sections within bookstores. In particular, the addition and expansion of books on religion and spirituality. These now important sections were non-existent or relegated to a few shelves just a few years ago. This caused me think about my own recognition of how religious art has grown in importance in the past few years. It coincides with a burgeoning Christian music and Christian bookstore movement and a general interest in secular spirituality of all sorts.
Cultural Trends Are Art Marketing Opportunities
Trends like these are strong indicators of interest and as such present opportunities for those artists who are personally motivated to tap into a movement. I can’t imagine one attempting to make a foray here without personal interest and beliefs in what these things mean. To borrow a well-worn cliche, this is one where you need to walk the talk if you want to be taken seriously.
Interest in Non-traditional Spirituality Is Growing
It’s not just traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs fueling interest. Alternative spirituality has never been more popular now than ever in the U.S. The popularity of the secular Website, Beliefnet, (Alexa traffic ranking 4,938)with features articles on God, faith, prayer, the nature of spirituality, society and ethics, with numerous resources and all religions respected, stands in testament to our desires to tap into, or explore some version of religion or spirituality.
My personal observation regarding the practice of religion is many people tend to take a little from here and there and few are dogmatic. That is, certain truths and customs can make sense to us even though they come from disparate systems of beliefs. For instance, Catholics who believe in the basic tenets of the Church, but don’t abide by or believe in its stance on birth control. Or, an otherwise devout Lutheran who finds solace in the mysticism surrounding vortexes in Sedona, AZ.
These are not dichotomies, but realities we all live with and accept. Hidebound church leaders and purists may have difficulty when faced with such truths about their flocks, but the members rarely do. Certainly, the large number of those who have never attended regular church services, or do so sporadically on holidays, etc., realize religion and spirituality is both personal and complex. Many yearn for something to give meaning to their lives, but look for answers outside of organized religion. And, with our ever more closely knit world, it’s ever more easy to understand and embrace beliefs from other cultures.
If You Have the Right Stuff, This Market Is Waiting
An artist who can put such mixed feelings and sense of devotion into his or her own work in a way that touches people may inadvertently create a subset within a growing market trend. Can you manipulate work within this context purely for profit? I seriously doubt it. One thing the overexposure to mass marketing and media has done is to give us all very effective b.s. detectors. When we smell or spot a phony, we walk away. When it involves those attempting to cash in on something like religion, we run away.
Creating With a Personal Vision – Getting Behind What You Feel Is Real
Given the growing interest often deeply held personal feelings and beliefs of many towards religion and spirituality, it seems those artists whose own beliefs and feelings align with these trends ought to be able to serve their own needs to be fulfilled as an artist and perhaps to satisfy a desire to express their own feelings in a way that might help or inspire others.
It may not always work this way, but certainly in this is a case, contributing to or building a body of work around a growing trend when the artist is personally involved would make for a natural believable fit for collectors interested in the genre. When you create what you are passionate about, the greatest reward may be in the doing.
By tying your talent, your heart, your head and your religious beliefs together, you create a formula sure to benefit you on multiple levels. If you are moved by these thoughts, then exploring religion and spirituality as a contextual concept for your creative output should be an easy step to take.