Posted by Chloe
Andrew Dickson presented his latest “PowerLogue”, entitled Sell Out, last night in the belly of the beast – the atrium at Wieden & Kennedy. Mr. Dickson, as persuasive as a televangelist selling used cars, was at ease with the crowd who were largely enraptured and frequently amused by his twenty-seven steps to selling out. At the helm, his wife and co-conspirator Susan Beal ran the PowerPoint and occasionally chimed in.
After surveying the audience to determine how many of us had already sold out, and who would or wouldn’t, he invited a naysayer to take the floor to posit the opposing argument – which this evening was something to the effect of, “you shouldn’t hurt people in order to earn a living” – he then spent the remainder of the hour convincing us otherwise.
Although Sell Out is a satire of sorts – on motivational speakers, self-help, and get rich quick schemes – one would be hard pressed to debate his ultimate if somewhat disillusioned sounding conclusion; if we as a society are not willing to fund arts education, support the arts, or pay for art, what choice does an artist have than to “sell out”?
Dickson described a path to selling out that seemed to resonate with most of the audience and was almost embarrassingly familiar to my friends and I. It began with being born middle class, experiencing some childhood humiliation, developing a chip on your shoulder, and attending a liberal arts college. After that there’s the requisite toiling in obscurity phase (AKA your twenties) and various accompanying lifestyle choices, to be swiftly followed by blowing some minds around the time of your 30th birthday, thereby rocketing yourself into the sell-out stratosphere.
Like obscenity, selling out can be difficult to define, but most folks feel they know it when they see it. Although Andrew Dickson is now regularly employed by Wieden & Kennedy, one of the top ad agencies in the universe, his compelling argument and defense of his personal trajectory from dumpster diving to loft living has blurred my carefully drawn lines. Hey Andrew, wanna come evaluate my sell out potential?