“You may be one of the greatest living artists in the world, and nobody knows it.”

Chris Watts is a young black man with a talent for painting. His “Black On Black On Black” series will strike you at your core. Not only does he paint for his enjoyment, but he does it to shed light on the social injustices around the world. I enjoyed the look of his work, and the meaning behind it. However Chris, and many like him in The Art of Making It, are what some would call “starving artists,” or at least a form of that. They live frugally, and work as bartenders or baristas to satisfy their passion to create. Director Kelcey Edwards gives us an inside look at the art industry through the eyes of the people who help churn the machine. Is the industry made up of so many talented individuals that it’s nearly impossible to be seen, are these up-and-coming artists misled from the very beginning, and are the artistic institutions—as we know them—becoming a dying breed?

On the cusp of the COVID Pandemic, we begin our decent into the art world—examining its ins and outs. One by one, we are allotted time with so many different artists, each of whom have given their time and dedication to their craft. Whether it be a painting or sculpture, street art or an abstract gallery exhibit, each creator has a story to tell within the layers of this documentary. These young artists with their bold interpretations of a world divided, or as one artists said, “they are the cut in the pie for which the steam can escape,” the underground subculture setting fire to the hierarchy that surrounds us. But nowadays, in an ever-changing world, social media being a big factor, how does art change? 

There was little knowledge on my end about anything in the art world. I know the basics, and by basics I mean the usual Van Gough, Picasso, and Monet. The Art of Making It takes someone like me and escorts them around—taking them by the hand from start to finish. You’re never lost, if this may be your first time splashing around in this area. And yet, even though I may only know some art basics, I will preface it with saying that I have immense love and respect for artists and their work. It’s incredibly eye-opening at how underfunded our art system is in the United States. This documentary peels back the curtain, not only on the beauty of art, but the burden it suffers. 

The system in which an artist gets hired is currently fractured as we see from some of the misinformation given to students during their time at university, as the they are encouraged that masters degrees will open up more opportunities. Further it along to a young artist who is met by what I can only call “vultures,” people who buy a young artist’s work early on in their career, only hoping to resell it later if the artist makes it big. All is fair in art and war, I guess. These are the points that the documentary asks us to examine. By proceeding with this ongoing method, we may have to suffer the consequences of discouraging the next great artist from becoming discovered.

While The Art of Making It has some major hiccups in its cohesive storytelling, it does give you a lot to take in. It’s a mixed bag of both hope and uncertainty. The documentary leaves us in the middle of the pandemic, with the artists we’ve met still fighting the good fight. Is this the generation to revitalize the arts and continue to change the world? Hopefully it’s just the beginning of something new, and change is just a simple brush stroke away.

The Art of Making It

Directed by: Kelcey Edwards

Rating: C+