Renaissance or Revival?
There’s a fresh wind blowing through the arts right now, all over the world. Many have called it a New Renaissance of sorts and as an artist, that’s exciting!
For many artists, it's brought a new vitality, a resurgence of buyers and the opportunity to significantly grow their businesses through new tools and technology platforms, but is that it? Is that the end game?
I believe there's much more on God's heart for artists.
More than Marketers
During this current resurgence of the arts, God is highlighting artists, our work and our creative process. It's an exciting time but God's not simply interested in raising up more talented artists and better marketers for our own sake. This move is not just about creating great art and making money as an end in itself (although both of those things can be the fruit of following Gods lead)! He’s actually waking up our hearts, drawing us into wholeness, transforming our minds and raising up an army of creative sons and daughters who know who they are and what they are called to in the Kingdom.
This is definitely a God-inspired movement - a tidal wave of creativity in our generation - but to simply see it only as a renaissance is to miss the essence of what's going on. This move is very different and if we don’t recognize the differences, we will miss the central focus of what’s Gods really doing in this hour. Here’s why:
3 Philosophies of the Renaissance
During (and as a result of) the Renaissance, three main philosophies emerged that have guided artists for generations since:
These three systems formed the basis of how most artists approach their work and business - Christian artists included - even today. It goes like this: pursue my artistic expression (because that’s who I am), make it all about my desires, my talent, my expression and then find others to support me through grants, donations and sales. For some that works, although not long term. For many, it doesn't work, resulting in a starving artist mentality on one side or a success-focused art marketer on the other.
The ugly side of patronage during the Renaissance of the past was that the artist became dependent on and was at the mercy of the patron (rather than a healthy identity in the Lord), adding a complicated (to say the least) dynamic to their life and art. Today, being a slave to the market or latest marketing trend can yield the same frustration.
More than an Arts Renaissance
In this season, God is using this renaissance to lead us to revival and ultimately, thriving in His Kingdom. He's also raising up an army of artists who operate in three wholly different ways:
Lasting Success, Grace to Grow
As an artist myself and one who’s had the great privilege of walking with thousands of artists over the years as a mentor, I know this:
artists who seek the transformative power of God in the context of their life, art and business will always experience more lasting success than those who simply seek after the latest artistic fads and business trends.
Further, artists who center their art and business in their relationship with God also have the grace to grow and mature over the long term, building what Proverbs calls “wealth without sorrow.”
I want revival, not just renaissance. Revival starts in the heart - my heart - and flows out to others by the Spirit of God through my art, my business and my life.
Revival awakens and empowers me from within.
Revival centers my life, work and business in hearing Gods voice and following His lead.
Revival calls me to community and lasting impact, for His glory.
Sure, becoming a better artist and a better marketer is a part of this process for artists but it’s when God shows up that everything changes. That kind of lasting transformation will never happen as the result of my own effort.
When God shows up, transformation is released.
When God shows up, my life and art has meaning.
When God shows up, then the world is changed.
Pray this with me: Oh God, raise up an army of artists - sons and daughters - who know your voice, follow your lead and release the beauty of your Kingdom in the earth! Here I am, use me.
8/9/2020 10:16:08 am
Wow! I've never been drawn to history. I've appreciated it's relevance but only from an academic sense. And I've subscribed to 'those that don't learn from our past are doomed to repeat it's mistakes" wisdom. Other than that I'm not driven to study history. BUT YOU MIGHT HAVE CHANGED MY MIND with this article! That is fascinating. I didn't connect Humanism, Patronage, and art for art's sake to how God want's to shift this current move!
8/9/2020 10:34:14 am
8/9/2020 10:36:55 am
One of the most humbling aspects of our creative ventures is knowing that God can and will use our work as the very seed that can plant a kingdom life into the heart of a person who was intended to see it. Teach me oh God to be your instrument for hope.
8/9/2020 12:07:55 pm
Thank you for this. I found it encouraging. I agree we need Christ to be at the center of all we do and in our art. Especially at this time. May God richly bless you and keep us (all)on track. Love/Gratitude/Blessings from Ireland - Noreen;)
This is such an encouraging article! I’m loving how God is transforming my mind and showing me His value for beauty and the arts. I wasn’t able to grasp the typical artist mindset when I was young. Now I see what a blessing that was. It’s so exciting to be involved in this new art movement. Thank you Matt for being an amazing mentor and being faithful to the message God has given you!
8/9/2020 03:30:18 pm
8/9/2020 03:35:53 pm
Yes, when we leave God out of the equation and out of the process, then we are not giving our all to him to use us the way we are wired. He transforms us from the inside out so we can transform our art, our mind, our whole being. He can't use us if we leave Him out of our art. Revival starts in the heart and in our relationship with Him and others.
8/9/2020 04:58:12 pm
Wise true words..helps me understand why my heart struggles with the marketing strategy side of things. It is beyond the reality of many sensitive artists not being’wired’ that way whilst appreciating the help of those who are.
8/9/2020 05:43:19 pm
I've read this several times. This is such a key document for christian artists. It's a kind of mandate. A declaration of dependence rather than independence.
8/10/2020 04:26:45 am
Thank you Matt, for expressing what it is that I came here for! This is why God led me to you and not another art community leader and teacher. The way you are keeping this on track with what God is wanting for and from me and others, is God working through you. God bless your vision and faith and your service!
8/10/2020 03:07:48 pm
Matt your thot's on what God wants from Creatives at this point in time is truth. Lives are in such a flutter these days for many reasons.
8/11/2020 12:23:09 am
This is such encouragement from the throne. I like to think that my creations have value, worth and significance because I seek Him before and during the time I'm creating and thus they come from His heart first. He gives inspiration, courage, how to and dreams for what's ahead. Thank you for putting this into words. I never felt comfortable with art for arts sake. Art history that I was taught in school always seemed hollow for a believer and now I know why.
Maria Luz Gamero
8/26/2020 06:05:35 pm
YES LORD! HERE I AM, USE ME.
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Matt Tommey is an artist, author and mentor who is passionate about empowering artists to thrive spiritually, artistically and in business.