Kurt Andersen on the Future of the Artist in the Digital Age


In this social media-dominated era of self-promotional, cross-genre hyperactivity, in which everyone seems to do everything simultaneously, it can be hard to separate the artist from the PR guy from the businessperson. Emerging digital platforms have granted artists greater freedom and flexibility, but have allowed the line between creativity and commerce to get blurrier and blurrier. Frankly, we’re a little overwhelmed by it all, so we thought we’d ask New York City media royalty (and founder of one of our favorite magazines ever, and novelist, and radio show host) Kurt Andersen for his thoughts on the subject.

1. You’ve carved out an interesting, diverse post-media/new-media existence for yourself (between the radio show, the novel-writing, the variety show, VSL…) Is there something new about the way in which artists/writers need to diversify their creative portfolios to survive independently?

My “diverse post-media/new-media existence,” as you call it, is really not so much a conscious 21st-century strategic choice, but a function of the fact that I’ve always had diverse interests. Back in the pre-internet 80s and early 90s, I was simultaneously writing for and editing old magazines and starting new magazines, working on independent humor/comedy projects, and producing TV. But more generally, yeah, I think as a practical matter these perpetually-“disrupted” days, it behooves most creators more than ever to put their eggs in more than one basket.

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