True dat.

Donald Trump. Ben Carson. Bernie Sanders. Microbrews. Artisanal pickles. Documentaries. Memoirs. Ukuleles. Normcore. Etsy. Real Housewives. YouTube. What do they have in common?

A claim to authenticity. Their appeal is a rejection of the cynical, corporate polish of the 21st century and a willingness to show it like it is.

Granted that behind a lot of these ‘authentics’ is the same old cold calculation, cynical manipulation, and ancient biases — but our hunger for them is real.

When everything seems to have passed through Photoshop, Autotune, TelePrompTers, 3D printers, Instagram filters, product placement and GMOs, we come to crave authenticity. We tire of bullshit and hidden agendas. We have all seen the DVDs extras and know how special effects can easily manipulate the truth. And so we prefer politicians who don’t seem like they are. We reject Spiderman VI and Billboard charts and McDonalds breakfasts. We hunger for the truth.

So why is authenticity at such a premium? If people want to wind back the clock, why not just let ’em? What’s the big deal?

Well, authentic authenticity is hard. It’s hard because it’s naked and vulnerable and exposing your warts can cost you dearly. Because you can’t delegate authenticity to consultants. Can’t guarantee its outcome through past success. Can’t slash its costs, can’t ship it overnight, can’t outsource it. Authenticity doesn’t fit neatly in a box so it sends shock waves through the system.

It’s easier to keep to the status quo which gleams and glistens and reflects back a shinier, faster, cheaper world.

But you have a choice. How could committing to authenticity effect your art? Your creative goals? How can you replace perfectionism and self judgement with honesty? How can you avoid succumbing to the artificiality that technology makes easy and instead reveal your soul, share the truth, make something interesting and fresh and honestly you?

Here’s one answer.

10 thoughts on “True dat.”

  1. “Well, authentic authenticity is hard. It’s hard because it’s naked and vulnerable and exposing your warts can cost you dearly.”

    You seem to be saying that we hunger for authenticity, but are apt to reject it when we get it. We certainly are a mind-addled species.


    1. We like the idea of organic tomatoes but when they are lumpy and have weird spots on them, we say ‘Ew’. And we like the idea of being honest but that could mean swallowing hard and suffering some lashback when we yank back the curtain. It can be hard to convince ourselves that rolling out our own authenticity is worth that cost. I struggle with it too.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is the very reason there once existed starving artists of which I doubt still linger into today’s world, ‘fake’ has become the real new as cliché as it may sound. It’s far easier for people to accept lies of which they’re aware over the truth because we seek validation. People forget just how much your talent is powerful, it may take you time to be recognised due to your truth but there’s a lot of us out here who seek it daily, I do also believe that the power is in the hands of those who make the media (artists).


  3. Love this Rijksmuseum campaign! Especially after having been busted at the Cantor/Anderson Collection at Stanford University for having a pen in the gallery. That’s the first time I had encountered that rule — pencils are allowed, but not pens ( and as a student of Danny Gregory’s…pencil? seriously? why bother?). I’ve spent lots of time in Europe and seen countless artists camped out with full plein air gear in museums, so I was pretty much speechless at this ban. So glad to see an opposing policy!


  4. Thanks for this one, Danny. Spot on. Shop Class as Soul Craft by Matthew Crawford supports so much of what you offer here with regard to the real and the true in our art and work. When I think of all I’m thankful for tomorrow, your blog is one of them. Happy Thanksgiving.


  5. I so agree! would love to see posts of this sort all over the web!! sigh,……the shiny, the fake, the fast and easy will never satisfy or fill that emptiness the way that expressing our very own voice, does. Thanks for posting this, Danny! Cheers, Debi


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