Which Genre Do I Fit Into?

Recently I've been questioning which genre of art I fit into and whether I want to fit into a genre at all. I'm going to digress for a while now, but don't worry I will get back to art eventually...

I loved listening to John Peel on the radio.

I loved the mix of styles he played, from Japanese thrash to jingly jangly indie pop. I never quite knew what to expect. He exposed whole new types of music to me, which I sometimes liked, sometimes hated, but the show was always interesting. Add to that the Festive 50 - a chart of the best 50 tracks of the year as voted for by his listeners - and it all adds up to make John Peel a hero and a legend.

I'm not the kind of person who can just listen to one genre and only like one genre, and dismiss all other genres. I like a mixture. Now, I won't use the 'e' word because in general when people describe their taste as the 'e' word it just means they listen to Coldplay, and they also enjoy a bit of Nickelback too. In other words: a narrow taste in music. Which is fine; I just like a mixture. A broad mixture.

The problem is that now, everything has been so neatly forced into genres - a process of 'genre-lisation' - that it's very hard to find anything to suit my needs. I thought Spotify may help with its Discover playlist, but all that churns out is music that has been through the process of blandardisation.

The same thing has happened to films. They generally don't get made unless the marketing team can see an easy way to promote them, i.e. they neat fit into a genre box. My favourite film 'The Wicker Man' probably wouldn't get made today because it steadfastly refuses to be categorised. Is it a horror film? Well, the ending is completely horrific but the rest of the film is more of a saucy musical comedy. I even like the sequel 'The Wicker Tree'. (Yes, I may possibly be the only person to like it, granted.) I was expecting to hate it, but despite not being anywhere near as good as the original, I enjoyed it due to its lack of a clear genre.

Focus groups don't help. In appealing to a broad audience, the films become blandardised and wholly average (at best). As a creator would I want my film to be liked by many (and then forgotten) or loved and cherished by a few?

It should be fairly obvious from my art which path I've decided to go down. My mum keeps hassling me to paint things that will be popular and sell, like pretty landscapes and cute rabbits. I explain that I would be bored senseless and the dream of being an artist would become a nightmare. So I paint what I want to paint without worrying about the genre or whether anyone will actually like my work.

But this week, I've hit a snag.

This week I've been looking at optimising my website so that search engines can find it easily (SEO: Search Engine Optimisation). In this process I've had to look at keywords that people will search for to find my site. Straight away I had to ask myself the question: which genre do I fit into? Hmmm, not sure. I asked people on social media sites and the closest they came up with is fantasy. Okay, it's relatively close, but I won't be painting elves, wizards or dragons anytime soon. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just want to do something different. Another factor is that I also want to dabble in abstract work or anything else that takes my fancy. I want to make art, not a neatly packaged, genre-lised, blandardised product.

I suppose I can't have it both ways. I can't paint what I love and also fit into a narrow little marketing box. I can feel my mum shaking her head now.

Any thoughts on the subject? Please leave a comment below.

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