The New York Times Magazine's New World Order with Andrew Rae
For some parents, the worst six words they can hear from their children are, “I want to be an artist.” Since the rise of Napster in 2000, creative careers have been judged unfit for long-term commitment. The ubiquitous access of creative work was supposed to spell disaster for creatives who would in turn no longer be able to find regular sources of steady income. With pirated music and movies and tumbling paywalls, the traditional income streams for creative professionals were headed for the ICU. They had, in fact, mostly dried up leaving the old guard with hung heads and a dismal outlook. But it turns out the future did not conform to their bleak prophecies.
Last week, New York Times Magazine released their “The New Making It” issue that includes a cover story about the current state of the creative class called, "The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn't." The cover features an illustration by Andrew Rae who imagined this new breed of artists as abandoning the sinking ship of the traditional establishment and flying off to new heights. As Steven Johnson, the journalist who wrote the piece, found that wages are up across all sectors from music, to film, and even independent bookstores whose extinction should have already come and gone. For Andrew, illustrating a story like this is a little funny since he is a professional artist. He, too, has been absorbing the common wisdom that his profession is dying, but found encouragement in the revealed truth that it’s a totally different story. “There’s so much stuff you read about how everything is going to shit for everyone,” says Andrew. “And it’s actually quite nice to read that things are not so bad after all. Because in my experience, and a lot of people I know and work with, things are a lot better now in many ways. So it’s good to hear that confirmed empirically.” In fact, Johnson dives deep into the numbers and proves, once and for all, these breeds of creatives aren’t dying at all.
After seeing Andrew’s illustration on the cover, the inspiration is obvious, but a composition like this isn’t ripped from the sky. “I was having trouble thinking of actual images to draw, I was picking things from the text,” says Andrew. “I don’t know where it came from but I just hit on the idea of the sinking ship, and it just seemed to work. The ship represents the industry, the old school, with various people doing creative things launching into the sky.” It is the visual representation of the new creative world order. Only by abandoning traditional structures can these artists make their way. The same arguments of moribund disciplines are made every few decades, but it is never the art that suffers, only expired systems constructed to sell and distribute art. As the old adage goes, “Life finds a way.”