Did you know that the US government spends just $5 per person per year on the arts? Or that over 50 countries have a Department or Ministry of Culture, but the US doesn’t?
In fact, the US has less government support for the arts per person than any other developed nation. These uncomfortable truths surface in The Art of Making It (2021), a fascinating documentary that follows a diverse group of young artists as they navigate an increasingly fraught art-world ecosystem. Directed by Kelcey Edwards, the film includes interviews with six artists—Jenna Gribbon, Gisela McDaniel, Chris Watts, Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, Sebastian Errazuriz, and Felipe Baeza—at pivotal points in their careers.
On today’s podcast episode, host and NOT REAL ART founder Scott “Sourdough” Power discusses The Art of Making It, unpacking what the film gets right, where it flounders, and how it could’ve done better. “[The film] did a fabulous job of celebrating the world we love, some of the artists, and the art that we love,” says Scott on the documentary’s high points. “It did a great job of level setting, and being relatable and relevant to those of us who sometimes might think we're crazy that we're in this business. But nope, everybody is feeling the same pain. Everybody’s dealing with the same problems and challenges. It was a wonderful movie in terms of watching very fashionable, presumably smart, and successful people talk about something that we all love: art, artists, the art world, and all the problems that vex us and stress us out.”
Scott goes on to discuss his main criticism of film: “It did a horrible job of offering any viable, real solutions to the problem or innovations for the problem,” he says. “That is where this movie fails miserably. It does a fantastic job of bringing the problems, identifying the problems, [and] clarifying the problems. It does a horrible job of offering any possible solutions whatsoever.”
Still, the film has valuable art-world insights for those in need of a refresher. “If you haven't seen The Art of Making It, you need to see it,” says Scott in his final verdict. “It should be required watching for anybody that works in the art world.”