I find the news that Disney may acquire Pixar to be a little sad. This small, independent, and highly creative force will soon become just another “unit” in the animation division of a major corporation. It’s not that I think Disney’s a bad place — they are a cultural icon, after all. And Pixar will be good for them, bringing new life into the mix. But a corporation has its own needs, and these will always outweigh any creative inspirations. Pixar’s brilliance has been their creativity — they are company-as-artist, driven by inspiration. They defined their success on the integrity of their art. By becoming part of a major corporation, they will be driven by other, less lofty goals. They will be trading independece for security, brilliance for infrastructure.
In a way, this merge parallels a choice each artist has to make: whether we attempt to control our creativity ourselves, or we hire it out for others to use. I was a graphic designer for years, and so for a long time took the latter route. My creativity was a tool that helped others achieve their goals. Not a bad way to make a living. But after 15 years, I got tired of it. The artist in me got tired of being put on hold. I grew frustrated helping others achieve their dreams, while mine lay dormant. I finally decided to pull free and make my creativity be my business. Pixar has been a model for this — a place where their creativity is the reason for their existence. But now, if it becomes a part of Disney, Pixar’s creativity will simply be a tool to help Disney pursue its dreams. Not a bad way to make a living. But not necessarily a great way to make art.