Generation Profit: Learning to Embrace the Pressure for Our Own Sakes

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By Kayla Lunden

In May of 2013, 35-year-old Jack Conte founded Patreon, an online crowdfunding platform that aims to connect artists and their patrons through a monthly subscription model. In an episode of the podcast Hannahlyze This, Conte told listeners that Patreon began because he wanted to “see if I could just make money by being creative and making a bunch of stuff.” He used Patreon to promote his music, and set up “perks,” or things to send to people who consistently supported him. The perks’ style range based on the artist, from jingles written specifically for patrons, to access to private email lists, and beyond. Now, with more than 3 million patrons supporting more than 100,000 artists, Patreon is changing the way young artists can support themselves.

My generation of artists are largely defined by their entrepreneurship, finding creative ways to support their art (i.e. crowdfunding). Patreon makes accessible for artists just starting out what otherwise has always been a mystery: how to build a following, connect with other artists, and get your work out to an audience that hopefully buys it. By facilitating a direct artist-patron relationship and taking out the middle men (i.e. agents, gallery owners, etc.) the pressure of how to support oneself is lessened, leaving more time for making art.

Maria Licciardi is a Painting and Drawing senior at SUNY Purchase who, through Patreon, will make you 1-3 small unique pieces of art per month for a $10 monthly subscription. Licciardi’s senior project involves making comfort items: life-sized and smaller stuffed animals made from recycled leather. Licciardi incorporates a lot of recycled “garbage” into her work, something of a signature of hers. In working with leather, Licciardi has discovered things she shares with the material. “The skins are scraps that have been deserted because they’re ‘not good enough,’ or damaged. I identify with this leather; its being abandoned and with this idea in society that to be sensitive is a flaw.”

Brand new to Patreon since July of 2019, Licciardi already has 3 consistent patrons and is still figuring it out. She shares that it has been a bit intimidating, but mostly, she is excited to learn more about the platform and its malleability. “Patreon has the potential to fuel my art whatever it is; whether I’m between painting and drawing, sculpture, or if I go into, like, knitting scarves.”

Licciardi doesn’t always feel the pressure of mass creation the way many of us do. Instead, she finds in it a sense of purpose. “I think (pressure) is extremely necessary for me to function and be the person I really need to be. I love helping people and being of use.” In regards to keeping up with perks, she’s always creating for class, exhibits, fun; if she’s not selling something on one platform, they become perks through Patreon.

There are ups and downs to having clientele who consistently expect new work. “I need to follow through. I need to be consistent. I need to make this (Patreon) something that is a priority.” Licciardi loves that Patreon isn’t short-term, like a project on Gofundme, but career-based. “The goal is forever,” she said referring to the support network she intends to build. Licciardi believes in not being frugal when it comes to supporting fellow artists. “It’s like how classical radio stations say ‘we depend on you.’”

Although a Creative Writing major on the poetry track, I also write fiction, paint realistic pictures of breakfast tables, and sing jazz improv that has brought grown men to their knees. SUNY Purchase artists do not want to shy away from double and triple branding themselves, and this is not because we don’t have a passion for anything, so we choose everything. Rather, we have a passion for creation and connection that manifests in manifold ways. Thanks to sharing this passion with Jack Conte, Patreon has materialized as a new and effective way of sustaining our art and all that comes with it.

Check out Maria Licciardi’s Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/forestcamel/posts?month=2019-8

Make A Move: The Benefits of Mentorship

by Dylan McKenna

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What is a mentor? Definitions include: an experienced and trusted adviser; someone who shares with a mentee information about career paths; a person who provides guidance, motivation and role modeling. Depending on the context and relationship between parties, these descriptions all fit. I have experienced them at each step of my journey as a writer, but have not always taken full advantage. Had I done so, I’d probably be better off.

When I was in 11th grade I took whatever English class was required. Like other courses throughout my schooling, this class was basically comprised of practicing grammar, analyzing texts, and composing essays. But it was taught by a professor who gave me, like many of his other students, my first ever creative writing assignment: it was my first time writing fiction.

My story (a fantastical spec-ops thriller about my eccentric then-employer) went over quite well. Most found it funny, though no one was required to read it. It only came to their attention after our teacher brought it up; his interest in my writing sparked the interest of others. On top of the joy I experienced in creating characters and plots, this assignment opened doors to the world of fiction. It was my starting point and initial source of encouragement. My professor was experienced, and I trusted him. But given the high school environment, I didn’t speak with him about career paths or publication, or even meet with him outside of the classroom. And although I’d clearly been interested, writing was then for me a hobby and not a discipline. While my teacher was not exactly a mentor in the ways many people would define it, I still consider him a “ghost” mentor. That is to say, our collaboration was not very deep, but his presence was meaningful. He got me writing stories.

In college, my fiction professor ran things more seriously, and his comic personality not only reminded me of the man who got me writing in the first place, but connected with me personally. Our class met always in circles, received more writing assignments than the previous course, and held even more concentrated workshop meetings complemented by analyses of a wide range of texts. At the behest of our teacher, I met with other students outside of class to continue the conversation. He never used the word “mentor” as an offer of his time during office hours to discuss our work and plan career paths after graduation. Still, I did eventually accept his offers, and we met several times to talk about such things. However, I graduated from the program to move onto another in a new university, and we lost touch.

All of these people shaped my writing and helped me mature as a writer. But I never asked them to be my mentors. They were all ghost mentors to me, despite their incredible assistance. I never got the full package experience, so to speak. And that is because I, as student, did not pursue such relationships sufficiently. So, my advice to young writers already in academia is to take advantage of your resources: from office hours to clubs to free lectures, shows, talks, screenings, etc. A mentor is perhaps the most valuable in terms of growth. If a good one is available, and open to cooperation, it would truly be a waste not to at least propose this to him or her. People filled with knowledge and experience surround you in your academic environment, and to ignore them for the sake of saving yourself extra work is unwise—the work is why you’re there in the first place. Isn’t it?

POV: A Literary Choose-Your-Own-Adventure

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By Jiaming Tang

Trying to decide on a narrative point-of-view can feel like trying to pick a country to vacation in. Just like how vacationers might say: “Japan is beautiful but China is cheaper,” a writer might say: “First-person constructs a colorful narrative experience, but third-person offers a more objective view of the world.” Continue reading “POV: A Literary Choose-Your-Own-Adventure”

Launch and Reading Party for Issue 13.2

imageDo you feel gloomy that Culture Shock is over? Are you freaking out over finals? Is your roommate pissing you off?

We have the solution: come to the Buffer Room in the Administration Building at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 28 for our 2016 spring/summer issue launch party. There’ll be sumptuous refreshments, fresh copies of the issue and readings from some of the extraordinary talent showcased in it. You don’t want to miss this for anything.

Music as Activism: An Examination of Two Songs

 

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By Jalen Garcia-Hall

In mid-2015, months after releasing the extraordinary To Pimp a Butterfly, rapper Kendrick Lamar debuted his now hit single “Alright” live at the 2015 BET awards, rapping, “We gon’ be alright!” and “We hate popo/ wanna kill us dead in the street for sure,” atop a tagged cop car and ending the performance in front of a battered American flag. Soon after, this song was sensationalized by two different parties. First, Fox news contributor Geraldo Rivera responded to the performance by calling it, “Not respectful at all,” and claiming, “this is why I say that hip-hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years. This is exactly the wrong message.” Following that, protestors subscribing to the Black Lives Matter movement turned the song into a kind of anthem, shouting “We gon’ be alright!” repeatedly at CPD at Cleveland State University after police pepper-sprayed the crowd during a demonstration. Continue reading “Music as Activism: An Examination of Two Songs”