Concentration of Talent

In follow-up to my post on the Model D talk this month, it is worth mentioning the discussion of Michigan’s possession of creative talent, which is not immediately apparent as this talent is and the jobs requiring this talent are dispersed throughout the state. Most successful major cities have clusters of creative neighborhoods very close to the city center. This concentration facilitates camaraderie, an exchange of ideas, and strength in numbers for creative products and services. One wonders what can be done in Detroit to facilitate this aggregation. We have the College of Creative Studies and all major museums in the Cultural District in Midtown. However, the question is whether or not these trained artists stay put or if they scatter after graduation. Also, does midtown facilitate the lifestyle needed for creative entrepreneurs and creative workers?

8 Comments so far

  1. max (unregistered) on June 11th, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

    a friend of mine just graduated from CCS with a degree in furniture design and what’s the first thing he did? besides make me a bench for in front of my house he made plans to move to Boston because he says Detroit has nothing for him artisticly.


  2. Kim (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

    From my encounters with the uber creatives in Detroit real creativity is really trying and succeeding and “making it” in Detroit. This is a city that has room for those who want to make their own mark without a pre-fab mold. Collaboration is possible and does happen, it is just not in your face to see it in the making.

    Many other cities are already “done.” Boston, Chicago and the like are more likely to make their mark on the individual rather than vice vesa.


  3. Mollika* (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

    Kim, very insightful. I have often been rather put off by “artists” who leave the city because there is nothing here for them. We are surrounded by talented people in the performing and fine arts and surrounded by patrons of these arts. I often wonder what it is that artists are looking for – fellow artists? A market for their art? Resources for their art? I often wondered how Detroit did not have any of these things, because we all know that we do. I think Kim is right in that Detroit’s art scene is not one for followers, but one for leaders and those of a nature to forge their own paths.


  4. max (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    …but after graduation the student loan payments start piling up and some just can’t afford to stay in the city, take the bull by the horns, carve out their niche and “keep it real”. i guess not everyone is into the whole “starving artist” idea and would rather start a career full speed ahead (if possible) than be a part time designer and hope that the night of their opening reception they can get someone to cover their shift at Applebee’s. at least that’s what i’ve heard.


  5. Kevin (unregistered) on June 12th, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

    I’m an artist, and I know several other artists, however, I know of almost none in the entire Metro area that make a living from their art. By that I mean by selling art to art buyers, not using their skills for some commercial endeavor (which is what I do).

    Of the art that I do sell strictly as art, more than half is to people from out of state. There are artists here, and there are art patrons. Unfortunately the art patrons I know either think that $100 is really expensive art, or they don’t think that good art comes from Detroit. Why? Well just like the art directors I know, they feel that everything good comes from New York. Which is why most artists making a good living live in or have major representation in New York.

    It’s tough. I’d actually like to know of some well known artists making a good living in Metro Detroit. Are there any?


  6. max (unregistered) on June 13th, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

    Mark Dancy maybe?


  7. Mollika* (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:32 am

    As I am not an artist and I do not know very many artists, I would have to say that I do not know any Detroit artist who makes their living strictly off their art. I would guess, more likely than not, that there are very few financially successful artists in New York as well compared to those who struggle. At least in cities like New York there are more creative jobs for artists, even if one cannot survive by merely selling art for art.


  8. Kevin (unregistered) on June 19th, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

    Well, that’s one perhaps. I know that the number of “artists” who struggle, far outnumbers the number who make a living from their art, pretty much everywhere. My point however, and this is from personal experience (others may have different experiences), is that the market for art in Detroit is extremely lacking, and that pretty much any (not all necessarily) artist that wants to make a living from their art will have to leave the Detroit area. Even when Metro Detroit had the richest zip code in the country (Bloomfield Hills in the 80s), the art buying market sucked. People didn’t put much importance or value in or on art. Heck this area has always seemed to not put much of a value on anything not directly related to a job (their are a few exceptions).

    Some people will criticize those who leave as abandoning the area, or not seeing the opportunities. I remember when they said that people moving downtown where “urban pioneers.” Whatever. I don’t want to pay $300k plus to be an “urban pioneer.” I don’t want to struggle more than necessary. It’s hard enough to make it as a creative anywhere, why do it in a place with extra road blocks? We only have a limited time on this planet, and struggling to stay afloat, when you don’t have too, is a waste of time.



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