“YOUNG ASPIRING ARTIST.” It makes me smile, really. I like YOUNG.
I like “ASPIRING.” I like “ARTIST.” No, wait… cross out “
ARTIST” and replace it with just about anything else, like Astronaut or President. That can’t be. When I first saw this, I thought… Old Navy said that? No way…
But they did. And it surprises me, really. After all, it’s a pretty bold statement. They are essentially saying that being an artist isn’t worth it or that it’s somehow something to not aspire to be. You wanna be an artist? Forget about it. Be an Astronaut or President – anything but an artist.
I, on the other hand, believe that “Young Aspiring Artists” matter. More than that, even – they are essential. There is no shortcoming in aspiring to be an artist. None whatsoever. In fact, an artist is an awesome thing to aspire to be. Artists are the visionaries of tomorrow that mold and design our futures: where and how we live, dress, commute — and so much more.
And being an artist – a successful one anyway – takes work. Lots of work. Time, talent, and commitment all come into play — that and some luck as well. Sure, in many ways, your odds of being a successful artist are probably not much different than your chances of flying to the moon, or running a small country, or even being the president of a company. Regardless of your path, success takes more than talent and work. The path of being an artist takes a lot of different skills, and you have to be good at wearing a lot of hats to succeed. But it is worth it.
The satisfaction of creating art, music, stories, movies, or whatever is mind-blowing, really. Really, as an artist, anything is possible. In today’s world, we can make inspiring art and movies that share stories of worlds that would otherwise not exist. I can’t imagine anything more worthwhile and exciting than that.
Throw out your art supplies and dive into into engineering and policymaking instead because being an artist isn’t worth it — or at least that’s what Old Navy suggests with a line of T-shirts.
OLD NAVY might want to take into consideration that without our young aspiring artists, future Astronauts will have no ships to fly, and our Presidents have no home to reside in or house to rule. And for that matter, OLD NAVY would have no stores or products. Artists make things happen. We live in a creative and visual world – a world surrounded by art.
For me, ART is everything. I see it everywhere, from my clothes to buildings that inspire me. Everything. Everywhere. That’s because everything starts as an idea and then becomes real. Ideas become thoughts, and thoughts become things. Artists are great at translating thoughts and ideas into things. Things that make our world a better place and a more beautiful place.
My feeling is this, artist or otherwise… ASPIRE TO BE GREAT AT WHATEVER YOU ASPIRE TO BE. Pretty simple, really. Some are called, I believe, to be artists, some musicians, some bankers, some chefs, some lawyers, some… well, you get it. But really, in the end, we are all different. We are all unique. Artists celebrate those differences. Why should we all aspire to be astronauts, presidents, or whatever some big thoughtless corporation or chain store says we should be? Because non-artists will easily comply. They might pass it all off as a cute shirt. Artist… well, not so easy, I’m guessing. Artists believe – actually, they know, it’s a great privilege and joy to create – to create anything.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of people are furious, with many quick to point out that the clothing giant itself relies on artists and designers to envision their products. Old Navy has yet to issue a public response, and while the shirt remains on its website as of press time, the link to its product page now leads to that of another graphic tee. The brand also sells a shirt that reads “Imagination is Everything” — just funnel that creative power into anything but art-making, I guess.
In the end, we are all YOUNG ASPIRING ARTISTS. Certainly, I include myself and almost everyone I know in that statement. And, if we feel that we are not young aspiring artists, what are we? Most of my best friends are artists — some young and some young at heart — from eight to eighty (and probably a few a bit over 80 – you know who you are). Art and creative thinking keep us young.
If we’re lucky, some of our aspiring artists may grow up to become astronauts. If we are truly blessed, one may become President one day. Think about it… a President who is more interested in creating than destroying. I like that. It makes me smile.
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As a side note… I was curious what Wikipedia says about artists, so for what it’s worth:
“An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers (less often for actors)…”
It sounds like an okay group to me. Cheers!
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Yikes! Looks like everyone took notice in post-haste, and stories popped up everywhere. OLD NAVY takes a beating on social media;
- Old Navy shirts discouraging young aspiring artists spark Twitter backlash > http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/fashion/old-navy-shirts-discourage-young-aspiring-artists-critics-article-1.2480590
- Old Navy Faces Backlash Over T-Shirts Discrediting Artists (update) > http://www.complex.com/style/2015/12/old-navy-artist-shirt-backlash
- Old Navy Tells Kids Not to Be Artists with Hateful T-Shirts > https://news.artnet.com/art-world/old-navy-artists-hateful-t-shirts-400436
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UPDATED, 4:22 pm ET: Old Navy has pulled the product from its website and issued the following statement:
At Old Navy we take our responsibility to our customers seriously. We would never intentionally offend anyone, and we are sorry if that has been the case. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs including tees that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks and dinosaurs and include phrases like, “Free Spirit.” They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations. With this particular tee, as a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the item from our stores.
— Debbie Felix, Old Navy spokesperson
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In the end, justice prevails. OLD NAVY apologized to the world and maybe opened a few eyes in the process. my guess is they’ll make a fortune on their YOUNG ASPIRING ARTIST series. Cheers!
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There is an artist in all of us!
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