Cheap Copies, Art, and Some Mike Crawford Goodness
I am totally ripping off this blog post from Gary Aronhalt. Thanks for noticing this, Gary.
I saw this post on his blog yesterday. In it he places the album art for Radiohead's Hail to the Thief alongside the album art for Third Day's new record Revelation. For comparison I have done the same thing below. And what do you think? It's not even close, right? It is a total rip-off.
Here's the thing for me. I guess if you want to rip off another band's album art in order to somehow ride their coattails that is your business. But as an artist, the bummer for me is the original artwork that didn't get created, the visual artist that didn't get a chance to listen to the music and talk to the musicians and interpret both of those realities visually. There is also the not-so-subtle implication that Christians can't develop or create anything original on their own - the only thing available to Christians are cheap cultural knock-offs that make a pathetic attempt at relevance at the cost of authenticity, voice, and engagement.
This is, of course, going to come off as patently self-serving so please forgive me in advance.
Mike Crawford, worship pastor at Jacob's Well, has just returned from sabbatical. Many know that we have spent the last six years building a recording studio at the church. This winter Mike and an amazing team of artists/musicians from our community gave their heart and soul to record the music that has developed in our community over the last 3-4 years - in fact, there is so much that the record is going to be a double-album/CD/whatever. But back to the art thing. I was visiting with Mike in his office yesterday when he showed me the mock-up for the album art that he conceptualized and that Jacob's Well and Hallmark artist Sam Lewis (formerly Grasso) have developed. AND. IT. IS. STUNNING. It is also quirky and many might not get it but that is also my point. When this deal comes out, it will be art. It has a voice. When I see that and then look at what has been done above, the contrast is stark.
I know this comes dangerously close to sounding arrogant and judgmental. That is not what I am trying to be or do. But it matters, and in my (perhaps not so humble) opinion Christianity and its creative culture (or lack thereof) is hemorrhaging from sentimentality, inauthenticity, and a fixation with manipulating people to a predetermined destination without reckoning the importance of the journey or the cost of what is lost when we know what will happen before the creative process even begins.
That is not art. It is propaganda. It is killing us.