It’s Friday again. Today’s audience participation topic comes from native genius and celebrity look-alike SD Smith. SD, by the way, has been posting some great stuff lately on the Rabbit Room, mostly re-posts from his blog.

Anyway, here’s SD’s APF question:

Tell us what are the top factors that motivate you to be really invested in an author/singer/snow-cone maker etc. What elements are essential to you? Is it good story? A sense of shared values? A sense of connection to the artist (through blog/FB/twitter/attending a concert or signing)?  The person who recommended it?

I love this question and eagerly await your answers.

On another note, I think we need an APF graphic/logo to accompany the post each Friday. Any of you geniuses got any ideas?

Maybe something like this:

  • Aaron Roughton
    3:52 PM, 21 January 2011

    We were riding in the car the other day and a song by Paul McCartney came on that I was singing loudly. My kids asked who it was. Their next question was whether I knew him. It hit me that my kids have picked up on the fact that I know a lot of the artists that I favor. A sense of personal connections carries more weight than anything else, not just for art, but for anything that I might purchase or anywhere that I might spend time. For example, I’ll be buying Jonathan Rogers books long after he jumps the literary shark because I like the guy. (I’m picturing a Flannery O’Connor superhero graphic novel as the beginning of your end.)

  • Hannah
    4:01 PM, 21 January 2011

    As for the APF logo, here’s what popped into my head: Two raised hands crossed with Mr. Rogers’ glasses in front of them.

  • Jonathan Rogers
    4:17 PM, 21 January 2011

    That’s funny, Aaron. The other day I looked at my iTunes and realized that everybody on there was somebody I had met at least once. Granted, I don’t have a huge iTunes liberry, but that speaks to your point too, Aaron. I have a small iTunes repertoire because it’s a personal connection that makes me download or import a song. I suppose it also speaks to the fact that I live in Nashville.
    Thanks for implying that I haven’t yet jumped the literary shark. Still fighting to stay on the nigh side of the shark.

  • Jess
    4:17 PM, 21 January 2011

    Oh, kah, I have different things that make me like different sorts of people. What would make me like an author might not necessarily make me like a snow-cone maker. To make it more interesting than a long boring list of all the ifs, buts, or ands, I’ll say what led me to some of my favorite authors and musicians (my favorite snow-cone maker is my dad, so nothing exactly LED my to that).My sis and I run a little club for our school called the Inklings. It’s a writing and reading club (natürlich). We have all kinds of cool people who come, and one really cool person in particular mentioned On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. We read it, greedily grabbed North! Or be Eaten, and then started to explore. I got some of AP’s music, my sis found his website. Because we liked AP’s books, we were determined to listen to his music and were more biased to like it (on other occasions, when discovering new artists, we were quick to… er… not give it a second chance). On his website we found a book recommendation for 100 Cupboards. We got it, we liked it. We also found a link to the Rabbit Room. From there we found more artists and authors like (drumroll please) Jonathan Rogers. All of these artists and authors were quickly turning into our favoritest (I refuse to use “most favorite” when describing the best) people in the world. To make a long story short (after I have already given the long version), it started with C.S. Lewis and a love of writing, and ended with C.S. Lewis and a love of writing. Nowadays one of the hugest factors for investing in an author, artist, etc is whether or not one of the people I already invest in recommends it.

    Anyway, (ignore the above if you want a direct answer to the question) as to what drew me in the first place was humor and humility. I would never have found the Rabbit Room and/or never would have stayed with it if it weren’t for the little things that made me laugh and bonded me with these fellows who would otherwise have been untouchable (and highly ignorable) gods. Basically (ignore the above if you want an even more direct answer to the question), the fact that you are all human. Something about the writing and music opens a door that makes me able to see that.

    P.S. This is making me very sad because it forced me to think about what the world would be like without Thwaps and Feechies. Boohoo.

  • Aaron Roughton
    4:47 PM, 21 January 2011

    The Nigh Side Of The Shark would be a great album name.

  • Breann
    5:53 PM, 21 January 2011

    What draws me in is the recommendation of a trusted person, what keeps me engaged is the content (Is there a glimpse of something more? Does this artist ‘get’ me?), and what brings me back is a personal connection with the artist.

  • Jess
    6:03 PM, 21 January 2011

    Breann: well said. 🙂

  • Jess
    6:05 PM, 21 January 2011

    Oh, and I vote that we don’t do the creepy picture with the clown in yellow. Just sayin.

  • Patrick
    6:20 PM, 21 January 2011

    What I really like about a snow-cone maker is nostalgia; they remind me of being a kid. I remember my old Snoopy snow-cone maker. I thought it was super cool because I loved Snoopy. I also had a Snoopy lunchbox. Now, why did I like Snoopy so much? I think that had to do with me being a quiet kid who longed to be accepted. Snoopy was a dog of few words- none that could be understood anyway- and yet he was much loved, totally cool, and very uniquely himself. It impressed me how this imaginative character wasn’t concerned with whether he was liked or not- quite unlike his owner. Instead he was wrapped up in whatever adventure each new day held, whether real or imagined, and he lived out whatever he dreamed.
    So, how does it work in the real world? No one is born a star. Do they become that by tailoring themselves to what it seems people want to see, hear, or read? Do they package themselves to be sold to a particular audience? Or can some people just be themselves, doing what they love, without caring too much about what people think- and become a star from it? Well, I don’t know much about stardom, but I can tell you that when I was in elementary school, I didn’t have many friends until I stopped caring what people thought of me. After that friends seemed to show up all over my life. When I started dressing how I wanted to dress, being happy liking myself for who I was, and doing the things I had held back from because I had been afraid of messing up and embarrassing myself. Did I finally get what I admired about Snoopy? That may have played a part in it, but what really made a difference to me was finally getting God’s love for me. I was loved and accepted by the King of the Universe who called me a son, a prince in the Kingdom, and I knew I couldn’t mess that up.

    I tend to be very picky in my tastes and tend to not invest in celebrity much, but there are two different categories of what I like:
    a)The artist is a real honest person who loves God and creates their art with their heart. Those who do what they need to do and say what they need to say or sing what they need to sing- to genuinely be the beautiful creation, and contributor of salt and light to the world, that God created them to be.
    b)The second is the person of extraordinary God given talent- whether they know God or not- because their art is so vibrantly alive; but with these it’s not the artist I admire as much as the product of their work.

    When these two categories come together I find my favorites that I don’t mind investing in because of the product and example of their lives. I love when friends point me in the direction of such artists that they have enjoyed themselves, but it still comes down to me receiving the artist into one of these two categories in a way that resonates with me as being “good”. There is personal taste and opinion involved in that judgment- I have a hard time getting into Rap or Country music, Thrillers or Biographies, or anything overly cheesy and not true to life- true to my life anyway. I’m sure blogs, facebook, and such give greater insight into the character of the artist and contribute to the overall sense or authenticity or fabricated for marketing to a specific audience. And if they invite me to participate they become so real I am tempted to call them “friend”.

  • Patrick
    6:35 PM, 21 January 2011
  • JJ
    7:21 PM, 21 January 2011

    It’s funny (not S.D. Smith funny) that most of the bands I gravitate towards in my daily listening I’ve never seen in concert or met in person, and most I haven’t interacted with online in any way. I’m a heavy metal fan mainly (although I do love me some AP and Ben Shive), so concerts are out of the question because they’re too loud. Bands like The Devil Wears Prada, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying and the new band Times of Grace (which is the current Killswitch guitarist and former Killswitch singer/screamer). I don’t really invest in them other than buying their music (well, and I listen to them a lot). But I do pre-order if I know an album is coming out. That’s probably investment enough though.
    But then there’s the gang on the Rabbit Room. I haven’t met any of them yet (I hope to remedy that at Hutchmoot 2011), but I feel more invested in them for two reasons:1) their availability and humility to interact with me (and other fans, and 2) I see myself in their stories.

    When Andrew Peterson writes and shares a song like “Don’t Give Up On Me” (which makes me weep nearly every time I hear it), I want to buy every album he puts out, then buy extras for my friends. When Pete or Jonathan write a book with a character that I relate to, I want to be patrons of every book they write. And buy copies for friends and family to share it with them.

    Now if it was just relating to their own personal stories and fictional characters, then I probably wouldn’t be that invested. But in all my interactions with these folks, they’ve been humble, generous and kind to respond to my emails or Twitter and Facebook questions. It brings them a little closer to where I feel like they’re, in some way, my friend. And I always try and support my friends.

  • Canaan Bound
    1:22 AM, 22 January 2011

    I only really invest in art that is beautiful, true, and good. A craft well-crafted, a truth well-told.
    Once I determine the art (film/writing/music/snow cone) to be good, I become interested in the artist (director/author/singer/snow-cone maker). At which point I get on the interweb to stalk the artist via blog, typically leaving comments almost daily so as to forge a personal connection. I suppose you could call that Invested.

    P.S. Patrick, just how long did you work on that graphic? I’m amazed.
    P.P.S. Aaron Roughton, I think you should save that title for yourself. Personally.
    P.P.P.S. I find it somewhat humorous that I can become INTERESTed before I become INVESTed.
    P.P.P.P.S. thinks I shouldn’t use this cascade of P.S.s. Shame on me. Bad form.

  • sally apokedak
    2:48 PM, 22 January 2011

    I wonder if it’s OK to post on Saturday for the APF events? Half the time I forget to check the site on Friday. My email notification for this post came at 6:26 a.m. on Saturday. What’s up with that? Why 6:26? Why not 6:30?
    But I have to answer, even if I’m breaking the rules. I have to say, “Wow, I want to be as thoughtful and articulate as Jess when I grow up.”

    And I love Patrick’s logo even though Jonathan’s head looks a little odd without a neck :).

    And while I’m here, I’ll answer the question: I invest in art I like. I don’t care much about the artists at all–though I do feel like I know artists and kind of count them as friends after I’ve connected with their art. But I don’t really support artists any differently than I support plumbers. If my plumber does a good job, I’ll call him back. If a singer or novelist entertains me and makes me grow, I’ll keep reading and listening.

    You’re only as good as your next book or album. Well…if you give me one bum product I’ll give you another chance. And even if you give me two, I’ll buy one more time, if I really like you or if I really liked earlier works. But three is my limit. If I’ve read three books I haven’t liked (or two and a half), I won’t buy another no matter how much I like you as a person.

    It makes sense that art I like is usually produced by people who share at least some of my values. But I love much art that isn’t done by Christians and I hate much art that is.

  • Jess
    8:18 PM, 22 January 2011

    Before I get all weepy-eyed about how nice you are, Sally, I want to make sure you are talking about ME and didn’t accidently put my name there instead of, say, Aaron Roughton. Tell the truth. 🙂

  • sally apokedak
    11:15 PM, 22 January 2011

    ha ha
    It was no mistake, Jess. And I wasn’t being nice. I was such a clueless teen and I grew into a clueless adult. Perhaps all those wasted years make me love seeing young people who are able to think well and write well.

    Aaron, as good as he is with an Aussie accent, has nothing on you.

  • Jess
    7:26 PM, 23 January 2011

    Thank you, thank you. (take THAT Aaron) 😉 Seriously, though, thank you very much. I will try my best to try my best and live up to your view of me. By the way, though you may have been a clueless teenager (I have no way of knowing), you are not a clueless adult, and it is best if you do not see yourself as such 🙂
    And while I am typing; I vote for Patrick’s logo, unless you can sneak into the swamps and snap a photo of some feechies gathered around the fire telling stories. That would beat all.

  • Aaron Roughton
    3:18 PM, 24 January 2011

    (Read phonetically to sound like an Australian.) Roight! Croiky! Oigh giss Jess eeyout smahted me thees toighm. Er shid oigh soigh eeyout atickuloighted! Roight. Beetah luck nixt toihgm oigh giss.

  • luaphacim
    1:24 PM, 25 January 2011

    I think my investment in artists requires (at minimum) the following pre-conditions (insert “music,” “literature,” etc. whenever I say “art”):
    * I must be at a place in my life where I can appreciate the aesthetic, the doctrine, or some other vital element of their art
    * They must impress me with their commitment, their sincerity, or some other aspect of their personality that flows into their art
    * It helps when they have at least one really “rich ‘n’ sticky” piece of art that I can keep coming back to and gaining more from.

    I find that when I am in the right place and the art meets me there, it is quite easy to become wrapped up in it.

    For instance: Caedmon’s Call. I was in college, adrift on a sea of secular academia, with the tide of humanism carrying me slowly and inexorably away from my faith.

    Then, I heard 40 Acres. It spoke to my soul, reminding me of truth and raising counter-challenges to many of the assumptions that had crept into my life over the past few years.

    And the thing I really loved about the band was their genuineness. They didn’t sell out, they didn’t tone the gospel down, and they were honest — often, painfully so.

    In my mind, that is what good art should do: provide a catalyst for changes of life and point its users toward ultimate and beauty.

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