Art and Design Work

Making Outside of Capitalism

Bookmarked A Soft Manifesto by Cortney Cassidy (

Artist and writer Cortney Cassidy on the anti-capitalist values that helped her launch Mail Blog, and a set of principles you can apply to your own values-driven art making.

The desperation, exhaustion, and hopelessness in both the content of my thoughts and the method of capturing my thoughts exist because I work to live without getting to actually live, or process living.

Being an artist within an economic system that favors private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, a price system, and competitive markets belittles my practice into a hobby.

The entrepreneurship of mainstream do-it-yourself artist-as-business comes from a place of economic motivation, and rightly so under a system that requires money to survive. It perpetuates “more of the same” because there is no freedom to take risks.

Productivity addiction, like other types of addictions, is a coping mechanism. It’s a habit formed to ward off emotional distress that gets louder when the mind gets quieter; a habit that can go on for a while before realizing you are actually suffering.

It’s not easy to find extra time and energy to exist when the part of you that learned how to assimilate by being productive is stronger than your “real” self.

Capitalism is a well-established masculine monoculture of stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression that relies on dependencies and power structures. I lose my autonomy in it as a sensitive introvert.

Voice isn’t only about what you sound like and what you say; it’s also about how you deliver it.

Does the work reflect your understanding of the responsibility of being human?
Have you learned all you can from the work before presenting it as finished?

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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