Artist Becomes/Becoming Artistic: the Artist As Producer-Consumer

Laurie A. Meamber, George Mason University
ABSTRACT - This paper presents an interpretative account of how artists contribute to the construction of culture. Using depth interviews with artists from around the world, two emergent themes are revealedBAArtist Becomes@ and ABecoming Artistic.@ The Aartist becomes@ when his/her art is infused with life experience, and likewise when the artist gives her/his life to art. ABecoming artistic@ refers to the experience of life as artistic. Artists are thus both producers and consumers of art. Implications of the cotermious practice of art and life for artists and consumer culture at large are addressed.
[ to cite ]:
Laurie A. Meamber (2000) ,"Artist Becomes/Becoming Artistic: the Artist As Producer-Consumer", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, eds. Stephen J. Hoch and Robert J. Meyer, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 44-49.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 27, 2000      Pages 44-49

ARTIST BECOMES/BECOMING ARTISTIC: THE ARTIST AS PRODUCER-CONSUMER

Laurie A. Meamber, George Mason University

ABSTRACT -

This paper presents an interpretative account of how artists contribute to the construction of culture. Using depth interviews with artists from around the world, two emergent themes are revealedBAArtist Becomes" and "Becoming Artistic." The "artist becomes" when his/her art is infused with life experience, and likewise when the artist gives her/his life to art. "Becoming artistic" refers to the experience of life as artistic. Artists are thus both producers and consumers of art. Implications of the cotermious practice of art and life for artists and consumer culture at large are addressed.

INTRODUCTION

The consumer research field has seen significant contributions on the subject of how consumption actively constructs culture. While studies of symbolic, ritualistic, and/or hedonic consumption behavior have been numerous in the consumer research field in recent years, relatively little research has focused on the areas of arts consumption, its place in the construction of culture, and on the artist (recent notable exceptions include Ger 1999; Joy 1998; Schroeder 1997a, 1997b, 1999; Witkowski 1999). The purpose of this paper is to profile the lived experience of artists as simultaneous producers and consumers of their art. The ways in which these artists discuss their art, its creation and inscription in their lives suggests that artists use art to ascribe meaning to their own lives as well as to the broader social world.

INTERPRETATIVE METHODOLOGY

The text for this study was collected over a period of nine months in 1995-1996 in both Denmark and the United States. Data were collected via recorded discussions (both individual and panel) of long interviews with artists as part of performances and workshops on art. The audiotapes were transcribed and data analysis proceeded using the principles of grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin 1990).

In the grounded theory process, coding involved the process of breaking down the data into discrete parts, and then examining, conceptualizing, and reconfiguring these parts into new forms. The three stages of coding represented a progression from elemental categories and properties to a higher level of abstraction. First in the process is open coding, the naming and categorization of phenomena through close examination of data. Axial coding is the development of connections between a category and its subcategories. The final step is selective coding which involves the integration of concepts. It was at this stage that emergent concepts and ideas were linked to broader themes, theoretical positions, and texts. The results incorporate both the field view (the close examination of data) and text view (interpretations informed by theory and extant research). The research approach is thus iterative and built from the data upwards. In the final interpretive level of analysis, patterns were identified to form a story line, in this case a series of themes that will be discussed below.

THE ARTIST AS PRODUCER-CONSUMER: OVERVIEW

Artists are central figures in the cultural production/consumption process (Solomon 1988). Artists are involved in the "doing" of art (Joy 1997); that is they are creators of art and contribute to the artistic code or discourse on art. Art cannot exist without artists, and ultimately anyone involved in the production of art can be named an artist; however, there are certain individuals who take the label of "artist" and adopt an identity associated with their participation in artistic production. It is these individuals who are profiled in this paper as producers and consumers of art.

Artists live in the world and are subject to the forces of the world. Traditionally, artists are often seen as solitary figures that exist in an isolated environment (Joy 1997); however, precisely because of this "outsider" status, artists are often portrayed as being particularly perceptive commentators on the world (Deleuze and Guattari 1994/1991). Thus, although they are removed from the world, they are not distant from is effects and are able to reflect, react, and comment upon it. Just as consumer stories may be viewed as "existentially grounded texts" (Thompson 1998), artists’ description of their art can be located within the "ambiguous ontological space that can neither be characterized as a mirror of an extant subjective reality or an autonomous semiotic system" (149). The artists in this study exemplified individuals who used (produced) art as a strategy of living (consuming) life. These artists were not merely reflecting "reality" through their art nor were they merely creating their own particular signs, symbols and meaning in their art, but instead, described their production of art as an effort to "be" (exist) in the world.

The following sections of this paper discuss themes that emerged in the artists’ narratives on their lives and art. Properties associated with the categorical themes of the "Artist Becomes" and "Becoming Artistic" include postmodern conditions of art and life, social context, and previous experiences with art. Contextual factors and other conditions which relate to artists’ coterminous practice of art and life include structural and material conditions of lifestyle and artistic production/consumption, and the market, culture, politics, technology, and religion. Each of these topics will be discussed in turn.

POSTMODERN CONDITIONS OF ART AND LIFE

Hyperreality

The artists in this study are participants in a consumer culture that has become hyperreal or a simulacrum (i.e., a world constructed through simulacra and simulations). Hyperreality refers to a reality which is more real than real (Baudrillard 1993/1976; F1rat and Venkatesh 1993). It is in the age of Disneyland that conceals the fact the "real" U.S.A. is itself Disneyland, that Baudrillard asserts that simulation resurrects myths of origin and authenticity and lived experience. The contemporary artists interviewed in this study are implicated in the mythological discourse on authenticity of art. For example, a dancer [male, U.S.A. (originally from Turkey)] embraced the myth of authenticity or the origin through his belief in the "realness" of dancing without music, without "performing" or "presenting" art. For this artist, dance as an art form should not be subservient to "music" but return to its (imagined?) origins of pure physical movement.

I don’t think dancers should perform any more. They should just do it by doing it. That comes from the realness of the tasks basically.

A similar search for authenticity is apparent in the efforts of dancers and performance artists who rely on the physical body and the presentation of "real" life in performance. For example, the hyper-dance movement in Los Angeles plays with notions of art and life by using non-dancers who risk physical injury in the performance of movement for movement’s sake. Likewise, performance art has witnessed a growth in performances that incorporate "real" body modification practices including plastic surgery and cuttings or piercings (Meamber and Venkatesh, 1999).

The artists in this study also reacted to a simulated cultural environment by producing art as their way of producing themselves, as a way of connecting with others and sharing and/or at the other extreme, as a means of shocking consumers of art. Both strategies allow for intense reactions and relations between the artists and consumers in the act of consumption. The following accounts reflect these two approaches to art and life.

For me, the more you get down for personal expression, like many of us are doing, art that is very personally-based,the closer it gets to reality or strong statements or the core being within us. I see what I am doing as a way of opening up. [Performance Artist, male, USA]

I certainly know that my (work) and a lot of other people’s works stems from the numbness of normality, a numbness from what is normally presented, from things that separate pain from the rest of life experiencewhich is shocking for the typical audience member [Visual (Video) Artist, male, Denmark]

For these artists who exist in an environment in which art is thought to no longer exist. The signature of the artist does not guarantee "authenticity" in the nostalgic sense of the word; whereby the artist who created the art was the signatory. Nevertheless, the search for the real in art remains a goal however illusionary and futile this seems to Baudrillard and other postmodern theorists.

Metanarrative Incredulity

A second condition of postmodern consumer culture is "incredulity towards metanarratives" or the grand referentials in life, such as religion, and science (Lyotard 1984). The artists in this study produced works that challenged metanarratives, such as work by one performance artist that used (Western) religious imagery in the context of a series of body piercing rituals. By juxtaposing religion with body modification, this artist sought to destable religious iconography and come to terms with his own history as the son of a religious figure in the Catholic faith. In the (re)producing of this performance, the artist was producing a conflicted notion of his self-identity as an artist and the product of a religious upbringing.

Fragmentation

A third aspect of postmodern consumer culture which artists seem to be responding to is fragmentation. Fragmentation takes many forms in culture; however, one way in which these artists challenged fragmentation is their rejection of the Cartesian mind/body split.

It is possible for individuals to be simultaneously and without a split, to exist in their minds and in their bodies at the same time. And for anyone who can do this, and I think almost anyone can, there are ways in which one can learn how to do this, it helps tremendously in the making of art, provided one can address, in a sense, issues beyond the self, but manifesting through the self. But more importantly, it can actually help the individual to live daily life much more holistically and (become integrated), provided one doesn’t feel alienated, split or cut off in any aspect from self or other. [Visual (Video) Artist, male, Denmark].

Many of the artists interviewed here struggled to break down the dualisms of Modernity (F1rat and Venkatesh 1993), and to liberate or expand the notions of what is art and who they are as artists.

SOCIAL CONTEXT

Support of Family and Financial Backers in Artistic Production/Consumption

As mentioned above, artists are often thought of as solitary beings; however, in this study, it became clear that art was often not possible without a social context of support from family and financiers (in addition to the types of support provided by intermediaries, see Joy 1997). For some artists, it was the support of family early in their lives that fostered their interest in art. One actress [Italy] told how she began performing when she was eight days old in the arms of her parents, and how at age two she had to go on stage prmanently because her parents who were actors did not have a babysitter. In addition to social support, the financial support of family also played a role in these individuals ability to become artists.

For instance, a photographer [female, U.S.A.], discussed at length how the lack of financial support from her parents forced to her to begin her career as an artists, and how her father gave her a camera which became the foundation of her artistic expression. She goes on to add how her current family’s social support has allowed her to produce her art, as she uses her family and their everyday life situations in her photographs.

So that was my first baby and with (my baby), I drew the line and said I wasn’t going to work, because I had been working full time, and all those pictures you saw before were squeezed in whenever, and I was the total bread earner in the family. And so I announced (this) to my husband, who was a blacksmith and didn’t earn a penny, but I told him he had better do something because I was not going to send the child to daycare and he had better figure out some way to try and earn a living.

Financial support outside of the family also plays an important part in the creation of the artists and in artistic/cultural production process. In the case of a dancer, originally from the United States, who had moved to Belgium because the Belgium government was willing to fund her company, the funding experience also influenced the way in which she worked.

Well, it’s true that I feel very lucky to work, and that it’s in Europe, yeah, I think that it’s a very rich place to be working. It’s hard to say, you know, I feel like I am travelling all the time, and I mean, (male dancer) is American, (male dancer) is from Canada, (female dancer) from Paris. I mean, I feel that I’m in contact with an international group of people always, on the road always, that I feel the lines are so blurred about American/European, for me, that it’s really something else, its just blurred, the influences, so it’s hard for to say my influence is from there and influence is from there, it’s so mixed at this point. I don’t know, I mean I think there is this traditional feeling of what is American, which is this straight kind of dancing, and breaking new groundI know that it affects your work to be working as a foreigner. I am working in a foreign country and I am receiving foreign money, and I’m not working in New York, and for me, I always feel a little bit unstable. I always feel a little like I am a guest or this isn’t my culture, so there is a friction all of the time for me, and maybe that friction is felt in my work, I don’t know, but it’s that’s definitely something I consider...but there’s always these levels and it’s hard to say. I know the more specific I get about, and there’s less layers the more specific I get, people say my work is more theatrical, which means European. More kind of open, just #dancy,’ people say it’s more American, so like it’s being kind of general and not specific, dance, so it’s, I lean toward the desire to make dance and to be as clear about why we are dancing as possible, but experience is my base. But it might change, being in Europe, all of my physical training is American. [Dancer, female, Belgium (originally from the U.S.A.)]

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH ART

Childhood/Adolescence

As suggested in the above quotes that relate to family support, early experiences with art were very important in fostering interest in the ats for these artists. For an actress [Sweden], her first memory in life was the need to express. She remembers rhythms, voices, and her mother reading poems to her and feels power in the experience. For a dancer [female], early memories consisted of her interest in moving her hands and legs, which prompted her mother to encourage her to dance. For two other dancers [males, U.S.A], early experiences with nature in their environments, including the joy of running in the forest, and the sounds, and tastes of the desert and mountains, all of which contributed to their becoming artists. Unpleasant experiences also can influence art in later life, such as abuse noted by two of the performance artists interviewed for this study [males, Turkey and U.S.A.].

Adulthood

Experiences with art as adults also emerged as an important condition of becoming an artist. For example, an actor [male, South Africa] said that he was not allowed to experience theatre until he became an adult, but the experience forever changed his life. Other forms of artistic experiences in adulthood could shape artists and art, as a dancer pointed out [female, India]. For this particular dancer, performing in the context of a particular theatre anthropology workshop allowed her to regard what she previously viewed as movements associated with religion as universal elements of life across cultures. While most of the artists interviewed in this study indicated that they had always considered themselves artistic, adult experiences of art could shape the nature of their art. One example was the performance artist that did not recognize that he was an artist until he was given the opportunity to perform his private rituals in public. From that moment on his experience took on the added dimension of the spectators’ energy and brought richness to the experience that he had never felt before [Performance Artist, male, U.S.A.].

ARTIST BECOMES

Life Experience in Art

The notion of an artist "becoming" and using life experience in art is a way in which artists are both producers and consumers of art and life. A dancer who has AIDS uses the experience of his illness in his art:

Also I (have been) positive for eight years, but now I evolved to AIDS since February, so, but anyway, I am healthy, but it is a little detail, but in some ways it helps that I am positive because it really gives an edge to my work. [Dancer, male, U.S.A. (originally from Turkey)]

Artists continually bring and use life experience in the production of their art.

Giving Life to Art ("Artist")

The second part of art becoming life is devoting one’s life to art, and adopting the title of artist in life. Being an artist is more than a career, but is a way of life and involves dedication and sacrifice at times. Many of the artists in this study stated it would take a lifetime to become artists, and that they spent up to eight hours a day on their art. More than time, sacrifice can also involve taking personal risks. A dancer and a performance artist in this study shared how being an artist involves getting hurt in a physical sense:

Like I did a workshop here the last seven weeks and we almost broke some noses and chins and got big bruises, which I refer to as medals because they worked hard. Dancers are taught to protect themselves so they don’t use their bodies. In some ways they are really body conscious, not to gain weight, not to move freely...[Dancer, male, U.S.A. (riginally from Turkey)]

Different scenes are about different things in my show, there isn’t one theme. But on the topic, we have a saying "you better love me just before it starts" because if we are having a funk against each other and you start cutting someone you just had a fight with, it’s really going to hurt. My shows with the cast are a commitment. It’s not consent. If you agree to 18 needles, it’s 18 whether or not you are screaming and I have to throw my leg over you, unless that gets too unruly for the way it is staged. You have to pre-set your head and not let personal things get in the way. So we always clear the air before. So sometimes it’s pain and sometimes you don’t feel it at all. It also depends on how many shows you have been doing. It was painful last night. [Performance Artist, male, U.S.A.]

Becoming an artist, however, went beyond commitment and the label of "artist," and was associated with notions of proficiency, as this excerpt from a photographic artist suggested:

I actually took a lot like that, I’ll only show you two of them, the next is worse, slat of a barn door, stuff like that, I was a horrible technician, this is actually typical of what my contact sheet looked like. [female, U.S.A.]

BECOMING ARTISTIC

Experience of Life as Artistic

Life, for artists, is an artistic experience; that is their experience life as art, which carries over into their work. For example, the same photographic artist [female, U.S.A.] spoke at some length on how her everyday life became the focus of her art.

I used that same camera to begin taking pictures of women in my town and I think that if you an say one thing about my work it is that it is very, very personal, and I think I that I’ve gotten my subject matter almost exclusively from my own town which is a very small town, and again, all (of) these (photographs she shows) were done sort of after hours, when I had time to squeeze in among my other work.

For this artist, and others interviewed here, life is artistic in orientation and experienced as such.

STRUCTURAL/MATERIAL CONDITIONS OF THE ARTISTIC LIFESTYLE

The artistic lifestyle and artistic production/consumption itself is subject to a number of structural and material conditions, including norms of artistic genres, time and space, all of which influence the artistic/cultural production/consumption process. For example, a choreographer/director discusses the use of what is around her in her art and how this impacts the creation and consumption of the work, in this case heavy-duty coveralls that the dances wore as costumes.

This was the first piece that was created in 1989 in Germany. At that time the place had no wooden floor, there was no heating and it was freezing. So it was necessary to find something that would protect the dancers, the elbows, knees, and also against the cold. [Choreographer/Director, female, Germany]

This example shows how structural factors can impede or enhance the production/consumption of art. Many of the artists in the study consciously built in space, time, and other limitations (such as physical disabilities) to stimulae their creativity.

Another condition in the artistic production/consumption process is the role of the consumers of art. Although the artists can give meaning to their art, ultimately it is the consumers that produce meaning for the art. Art can bring individuals together and this was important to some of the artists in this study, who believed the audience intensified or energized the experience.

We are conscious that we are being seen on stage, so, and I guess at that one moment in the piece, that is...the whole game is called. I mean, that is like one reference point, in may ways to be #readymade,’ but it’s like we’reI’m standing here, here I am, I am exposing everything, and you are looking at me, so it’s like, there’s this contract between the audience and the performerI’m very conscious, like, here I am, performer, in front of you, audience. What are your expectations? What do you expect from me here? I like to work with time and I like to let things move very slowly. I kind of like to work with an expanded sense of time; I think that is characteristic of the work. Like for (male dancer) and (female dancer), I like that there is time to see the image, to let it sink in, so that you start to have this _____. I like to let the movement and the piece breatheThis isn’t a video clip, and it’s not like (gestures), #show you this, show you that,’ it’s like you have to look, you have to breathe. [Dancer, female, Belgium (originally from the U.S.A.)]

The Market

The market is also important to the process of artistic/production and consumption and the development of the artist as government funding and corporate philanthropy programs decline in the 1990s. Recent profiles of the interaction between commerce and art in the news include an exhibition of ironing board inspired art, which in turn, inspired commercial ironing board covers (Bold 1997). Many artists rely on the market to make a living, although in this study, the artists made it clear they did not identify with the notion that being "commodified" legitimates themselves as artists and their work as art.

Oh absolutely. I wasn’t thinking of it as art because I was selling it. I was thinking of it as art and if it sold, fine. Most did. [Photographic Artist, female, U.S.A.]

Culture

Many of the artists in this study were born in countries other than those they were working in at the time. While this study does not specifically focus on the cross-cultural nature of art, culture certainly did influence the artistic process. For example, for many of the non-Western artists, art was associated with rituals and religion. It was difficult for these artists to see their art existing outside of its cultural context. Likewise, for Western performers, it was difficult to learn non-Western styles of art without taking the culture in which they were developed into consideration. For example, a Western-trained dancer discussed "adapting" a Japanese dance form into a form he could understand:

Europeans have a tendency when doing Butoh to take on the attitude of a Japanese making Butoh, it in effect becomes a copy of Butoh. My point was, or what was suggested in this essay, or what I felt was concerned in this essay, was that it would give me access to a body, whereby as a European I could dance Butoh. So instead of being a European that copies Japanese making Butoh dance, I became a European making Butoh dance and cut out the Japanese. It doesn’t mean that I am necessarily anti-Japanese, and I am saying this because I have had some situations in Germany where it has been fairly controversial, my views or whatever. It doesn’tmean that I am anti-Japanese, it doesn’t mean that I negate the incredible things that have happened in the dance form Butoh, it just means that I am trying to place it as a performer in a European, I have to accept that I am European and I am not trying to be Japanese. [Dancer, male, Denmark (originally U.K.)]

Politics

Politics also seems to be an integral part of the artistic production/consumption process and in artists’ view of their art. Many of the artists in this study spoke on the negative side of politics that seeks to limit or censor art, as seen in the following statements by a dancer and photographer.

I am conscious that there are strong political views happening. I mean, politically the way people see the work in Europe and America is very different. I mean the sense of political correctness, what is okay or not okay on the stage is very different in Europe and for me that is really an interesting debate and why is that? My duet with Benoit is seen in one way in New York and questioned in a certain way and questioned, and not questioned in another way in Europe, and how that reflects...like I was saying today, that’s somehow, that duet, I mean, it is a very intense relationship with a lot of struggles, and yet at that moment I can’t get up and he is pressing me or hitting me with his legs. But does the spectator, I’m curious, feel that is representing all of the relationships between men and women and the idea that this is a woman who is battered or is there a way to see it as a metaphor, as a way, I mean, how is it that people see it, actually it is a question for the audience. I feel that in Europe, it is more open, I feel that in New York or in America, it is particular. I know I am not saying it is one way or the other. I am kind of playing with the tensions in that. [Dancer, female, Belgium (originally from the U.S.A.)]

This is called the (name). Now I have to tell you that this is the only picture, really, that I would be arrested for in America. And I actually can be indicted for this photograph. After I released it and sold a few I thought that I would call this big first amendment rights lawyer, Playboy’s lawyer, he knows his law. So I sent it to him and I said what do you think? He said I think that if you sell, mail, or show this picture, you will be indicted. That just amazes me... So I have decided to do all three of those things, sell, mail and show this picture. And uhm, the very day I got on the plane to Denmark I put it on the wall in New York City. So I don’t know if there is an indictment out for me. Maybe I had better stay in Denmark. Yeah, it’s very, very strange to methe pictures that upset people. I never know what is going to upset them. [Photographic Artists, female, U.S.A.]

Arts are highly charged and political battles are waged over form and content.

Technology

Technology is an increasingly important part of the artistic production/consumption process and the way in which many artists are doing art (Lovejoy 1997). One example of how technology is being used in the context of this study is as an active element in a theatre performance, while the human is the passive object on stage; a reversal of the usual order of actor as active agent and technology as the supporting, passive device.

In a certain sense, the whole art of the theatrical is inhuman. I am searching for this. In Hamlet, the machines have a task of composing the music, also the breathing, of the performance itself, and also of Hamlet. They work in the same way as the animal he is doing, along a certain perimeter, territory, on the edge of this territory with two functions, one function is to be able to defend this territory from external attacks, the very moving rebirth of Hamlet; and the secondreason is not to let Amleto (Hamlet) go out, and this is the same function that the animal has on the stage, it protects, but also it’s a menace. About the machines, but also the function of the electrical wires, the electrical installation, it is that the runs through make it on the stage, and it has the shape of the batteries, that is not related to the electrical network, this is to signify the self-sufficiency of Hamlet’s system, in order to show the self-sufficiency of itself. [Actor/Director, male, Italy]

COTERMINOUS PRACTICE OF ART AND LIFE

 

Art as a Strategy of Living Life

Artists use art in the practice of their everyday lives. For example, a dancer with AIDS uses his art to question what his happening to his body and to question the government’s role in life.

It’s very interesting to do work with your body, because you have to get up, not like writing or painting because you are actually doing work with yourself, because really before anything else we are just animate objects before we start intellectualising and get into the emotional aspects which I don’t. It is very important to question everything, to sayCwhat are the problems of dance? of governments? what is wrong with the AIDS holocaust? [Dancer, male, U.S.A. (originally Turkey)]

Another performance artist uses art to cope with his past religious abuse as demonstrated in this passage:

On the most basic level when someone is so traumatised that they feel numb, they can’t feel anything in life, they start cutting themselves. As a whole body of life experiences, that is metaphor for my performance. That I was raised to be a minister, I’m HIV-positive, I was a heroin-addict for 15 years, I have experienced the crash of the American dream, which no one here can probably understand how hard it is. So I don’t think you can lay everything on the table and scoop art on one side and damage on the other, and normal on this side, nothing is that clear. [Performance Artist, male, U.S.A.]

Artistic Production/Consumption: Adapting, Reacting, Resisting, and Relating to Life

Another related aspect of the strategy of practicing art and life together is the notion of adapting, reacting, resisting, and relating to life. For example, one of the performance artists [male, U.S.A.] interviewed here combines personal narrative with ritual body modification as an approach to life as well as performance. As Joy (1997) discusses, the role of art and artists is to question. As artists are subject to the conditions of life and must become artists in addition to life becoming artistic, they confront living through the practice of their art. Art today is often resistant in nature (Auslander 1992; Foster 1985), and adapts and reacts and relates to what exists in culture.

I will start by not telling you my biography because biographies are not quite exciting, because our work is completely against biography. Our work is a work that fights reality, and there is nothing more real than a biography. [Actor/Director, male, Italy]

Like, for me, it’s interesting to see the dancers, or performers work out something on stage, to question, not to have all the answers, not to be the ideal or the idealist. It’s showing doubt, or showing questions to situations, being in situations that they have to resolve. For me, it’s something, that is really, I’m interested in the work and toshow my dancers’ vulnerability as opposed to...I mean, in order to make a stronger connection with the audience, not to show physical character, but to show...yeah, people vulnerable, open, in situations that they are trying to conquer. It’s, I think it’s something important, it’s something I hadn’t seen much in dance. When I look at visual arts or something I naturally go to, it’s something interesting. [Dancer, female, Belgium (originally U.S.A.)]

SUMMARY, DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

This paper dealt with themes associated with the process of being an artist and creating art. Artists are influenced by the postmodern conditions of art and of life, as well as by social factors, the support of family and financiers, and previous experiences with art in childhood/adolescents and as adults. Together, these factors are connected with the role of artists to become (an artist) and to be artistic in life. Structural and material factors associated with the artistic lifestyle and the making of art, include the market, culture, politics, technology, and religion, all which influence the practice of art in life and life in art. Artists cannot separate themselves from life, and life’s influences are incorporated into their practice of art.

The approach taken in this study of artists, their discussion of their art and their lives is an example of what Thompson (1998) calls "non-reductionistic" consumer research. Thus, it constitutes a narratogical model of artists’ experience and recognizes that although these experiences are structured by narratives, these texts are embedded in a larger system of relationships constituted by socio-cultural processes (Thompson 1998; Thompson and Hirschman 1995). Artists carry the same set of existential conditions that other consumers do, including the lived body, the historicized self, and the life project, but the ways in which they express these concepts goes beyond that of ordinary consumers because these conditions are often played out in the public art arena. Artists may be born, but they also become in the process of producing-consuming art. It is precisely because artists and their artwork are visible that their ability to articulate conditions faced by ordinary consumers in their coterminous practice of art and life is an important topic of study in the consumer research field.

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