A subscriber who signed off as “Over The Hill Portrait Artist” wrote, “You must be one of those Millennials, they don’t think like we mature artists.”
Thanks, O.T.H.P.A. Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. While this rules me out, 80 million are in America alone — the largest age group in history — and many are artists. In a recent article for Time magazine, Joel Stein describes a calm-looking anxious person checking a smart phone hourly and sending and receiving about 80 texts per day. This is apparently a kind of stress-reducing tick caused by a dependence on praise and a fear of missing out: “FOMO,” for short. According to psychologists, this constant search for a hit of dopamine interferes with creativity. Have you ever tried to paint while unwrapping a Kit Kat?
Results of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking show children’s creativity scores increasing steadily between 1966 and the mid-1980s. By 1998, however, things had started to nosedive. Popular opinion says the abundance of screens are to blame, including the resulting plummet of face- and empathy-time. But before elders congratulate themselves on classic techniques, let’s consider the new-idea-potential for a generation with precedent-setting access to information, lightning-speed communication, individual empowerment and an abundance of choice.
Here are some Millennial ideas:
Be optimistic, practical and comfortable working within the system while tinkering at better solutions. Millennials are informed, pragmatic idealists.
Be leaderless and institution-wary. One-third of Millennials are religiously unaffiliated free thinkers, the highest in history.
Choose experiences over material goods. Millennials carry less debt than any other generation. You can even move in with your parents — and get along with them, too.
Temper passion with contemplation. Millennials think, think, think before they do, do, do. They share the process and invite feedback.
Take your stardom into your own hands, and eschew the herd. According to social historian Christopher Lasch, it’s not very “Millennial” to accept the banality of everyday existence.
Don’t call! (Text instead.)
PS: “They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment but because they’re growing up without one. The Industrial Revolution made individuals far more powerful – they could move to a city, start a business, read and form organizations. The information revolution has further empowered individuals by handing them the technology to compete against huge organizations: hackers vs. corporations, bloggers vs. newspapers, terrorists vs. nation-states, YouTube directors vs. studios, app-makers vs. entire industries. Millennials don’t need us. That’s why we’re scared of them.” (Joel Stein)
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” (Robert F. Kennedy)
Esoterica: The Millennial artists I know are inquiring, serious, informed and unafraid to ask for help. They aspire to global standards of excellence, feel entitled to compensation for their ideas, and believe in a level playing field. Millennials are told to expect to have an average of seven jobs before the age of 26 — all that texting makes for a speedy multi-tasker. Are you missing out?
The Painter’s Keys Prize
Are you an artist aged 39 or under? You may eligible for The Painter’s Keys Prize. The deadline for this year’s chosen exhibition, “Scenes From Western Canada” is August 31st, with the exhibition held Sept. 22 – Oct. 4, 2015 at The Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery in Vancouver, Canada. Details and the online submission are here. We hope to see you.