I’ve been saying it a lot recently: Ruckus NYC is a one-day conference and concert about art and the internet, happening on September 29th at Cooper Union. It’s going to be awesome.

But something else has been bubbling up in my head, about why we’re doing this, and why it’s important.

Neil Gaiman was right in his wonderful commencement speech at the University of the Arts. There aren’t any rules right now. Your career isn’t going to be like your teachers’, your students’, or your friends’. Everything is exploding all the time, and no one knows what to do. But we’re artists, and we’re not going anywhere. So we’re making it up.

The entire arts world is a million tiny experiments in how to live the life of an artist, and we’re all waiting for the results. Ruckus NYC is our way of sneaking an early look at the data.

We’re bringing together a massive group of artists of all different kinds, and looking at their experiences. How does an animator who lives on grants, fellowships, and one-time gigs create a living and make the art he wants to make? How does a rock-band leader with a day-job find the time for her rehearsals, gigs, and songwriting? How do you balance playing the saxophone, teaching music, and being a recording engineer? How much work does it take to build an ad-supported arts blog? How do you balance different personas online when some of your art isn’t quite Safe For Work? How far will “1,000 True Fans” really get you?

All of us are living wildly different creative lives, but we can find some common threads among them. We’re not going to figure everything out on September 29th, but hopefully we’ll get a little closer.

And because what we’re exploring is life in the arts, and the arts need an audience, we’re going to put on a show. Because honestly. How ridiculous would it be if we spent the whole day talking about how hard it is to build audiences, instead of actually going out and performing for one?

Building careers is important, but we’re artists. We make art. And the very best thing we can do for our careers is still to do it well. In Gaiman’s words, “make good art.”

So that’s why we’re doing it. That’s what we’re trying to achieve. It’s going to be an incredible experience, and I think we’re going to learn a huge amount about just what the hell is going on.

Join us.

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