In any art form, a healthy ecosystem involves a class of artists making avant-garde work that pushes boundaries at the expense of not being very commercially viable, as well as a class of artists who learn from the experimental and find a way to make it digestible to as large an audience as possible. The smaller the audience, the closer art is to masturbation.

0. Popularity & Success on your own terms (quote)

1. You are your work, and your works needs to fuck shit up

2. “I’m always going to keep putting stuff out in the world. I’m not going to (be anonymous).” Our most popular work often is not the work we wanted to be popular. This is because "most people don’t care about the things you care about."

Who’s really active?

As of early last year, there were 194,360 graphic designers living in the United States.  But that can’t be the active community.

Let’s look online for clues. 46,000 people (probably designers) follow Frank Chimero. 27,000 have watched a popular talk by Jason Santa Maria. AIGA says it has over 20,000 members. Designer News, an ‘active’ online community has about 12,000. 13,000 people have posted at least one shot to Dribbble in the last year. (All with a big audience overlap.) Are these numbers closer?

A few weeks ago, there was an AIGA event named ‘In Letters We Trust’, presented by Tobias Frere Jones, a graphic designer about as famous as they get. I was probably 1 of 400 in attendance. Could you say that we were ‘active’ for being there? We weren’t numbers on a website, or views on a video, but hardly active.

Maybe active is a definition that escapes documentation, but worth identifying as best you can. Who’s else is doing similar stuff to you? What do they look like? Who’s out there asking questions, and giving back advice? Who’s making things? Who’s organizing? Attending? Learning?

Those are the active. And I don’t think there’s many. Are you?