You may not know this, but many artists hate the word “content.”
It’s a word that implies the things they create, release and share, (particularly on the Internet) are a mere commodity, things which can be broken apart and sold for scrap, if need be.
“The highly dubious theory that a work of art is composed of items of content, violates art. It makes art into an article for use, for arrangement into a mental scheme of categories.” – Susan Sontag
“Art,” artists might counter, is different than “content.” It is a product that is more than the sum of its parts, (even if the purpose of those parts is merely selling a widget.) Art is content with meaning.
And if that’s true, and you create content with meaning but refer to it as “content generation” instead of “artistic creation,” are you in some way devaluing the art and the artist who created it?
Who cares about art?
Now, I’m sure many of you are thinking right now, “Who cares if artists think content is art or not? It doesn’t matter to me either way. And besides, the word ‘art’ has no place in business.”
Ah, but it kind of does (it kind of should.)
If your goal is to stick oodles of content on the web to fulfill some arbitrary internal metrics, then by all means work with whomever you want and call them whatever name you want.
BUT, if your goal is to create “great content,” “sticky content,” “viral content,” “content with meaning” or any other content worth giving a damn about, you might want to consider working with an artist. Because content with those kind of attributes tends be described as works of art.
And you know who gives a damn about works of art? Artists.
Who is an artist?
If you work in marketing or communications, you likely work with a lot of artists already…
- That writer who created that blog post for your company? That person is an artist.
- That photographer who shot that image for your e-book? That person is an artist.
- That videographer who made that YouTube video? That person is an artist.
These people may not tout themselves as artists when you’re supervising or hiring them. But, that’s what they are.
And that’s because yesterday there was no blog post, no e-book cover, no YouTube video. Those things did not exist, just an idea of them.
And then, “poof” suddenly those things were created: engaging pieces of content that included design elements and typography and camera angles and all sorts of other components that some artist or designer strategically chose to include.
While you may have looked at that piece of content as a means to a very specific end, those artists who created them saw that means and end differently. And you needed them to see it differently, because that is how they were able to create something worth consuming.
So what’s the difference then? What separates the idea of “art” from“content,” or the word “artist” from “freelancer” or the process of “content generation” from “artistic creation?”
Or maybe just the word “respect.”