Selling Out?


Hi I am a new media student from London, I am currently researching for my final project. The theme I have chosen is ‘selling out’. I have found varying definitions scattered around the web,most suggesting ‘loss of integrity for financial gain’. For example, stencil artist Banksy has been accused of selling out after producing Blur’s CD cover. On a much larger scale multinational corporations are guilty of selling out as well.

I plan to produce an animation in the style of the 1970s/80s public information videos, with a satirical twist.

Basically I would like people to write a few words about their definition of ‘selling out’ or what it represents to them. I just want to get some opinions on this to help me understand it a little better.


Jamie Wood


To me theres two definitions of selling out for “artist”. The first is someone changing who they are to make money. For example a rock band changes itself into a pop band purely to make a buck. The other is someone using their image to sell something they don’t like. For example someone trying to sell a mac when they’ve never used one or are just a pc user.


The definition of “Selling out” will probably vary a little bit, mostly everyone will agree it boils down to ‘loss of integrity for financial gain’, however, I will say that ANYONE who has ever accepted payment for something they have done can not accuse anyone else of having sold out. The only way anyone can retain 100% of their integrity is to produce art because it’s what they enjoy doing, and they do it only for their benefit.


I’d agree with the definitions thus far.

In a perfect world there would be no money… thus there would be no selling out. Unfortunately if you don’t sell out to some degree , you are usually broke.


Agreed. I’m pretty much a wh*re. I’m sick of the company I work for, but I let them do bad things to me because I’m well compensated.


Sometimes ‘selling out’ is a necessary evil for today’s world. It’d be nice if we were all lauded for doing exactly the things we like but that isn’t the case. Everyone has to bend to meet other peoples’ desires at times.
If it’s the only way you can make a living…


I don’t consider working in CG selling out. Work is nothing personal to me, I’m using my skill to fill a need.

To me selling out would be distorting my personal artistic vision so that it can be more marketable, acceptable, and acclaimed.


there is no such thing as selling out.

its only become popular recently with the internet and people fearing change. if a local band signs with a big label, most people would consider that selling out. but the band’s main goal is to just keep playing music. so if they have some major backing, that is less time they have to spend working regular jobs and concentrate on their craft. if you claim a band, movie director, or artist has ‘sold out’ then your following the easily lead flock.

everyone is out to make money, lets face it, we all need money to survive. just don’t burn money for the hell of it and keep your head attached.


there is no such thing as selling out.
its only become popular recently with the internet and people fearing change.

Selling out is taking money for stuff when you don’t need it. It’s simply greed. There is such a thing as that.

Selling out was being talked about LONG before the internet. That’s what Alternative music was all about in the 80s. People should fear some forms of change. Like “Mein Kampf” being the number one selling book in Turkey right now.

Corporations champion mediocrity. If you’re willing to become mediocre for money when you don’t have to (i.e., U2), then you’re a sell out. period.

Sellouts Examples:
U2 iPod.
Dennis Miller.
The lead guitarist for the Sex Pistols as a DJ for a ClearChannel radio station in Hollywood.
Movie Theatres with commercials before the movie.
Putting Spiderman 2 Ads on Baseball bases.
Selling naming rights to historical stadiums (3com park vs. Candlestick)


flashes back to issues of maximumrocknroll circa 1994


I think this is a pretty good definition.
It shouldn’t be too loosely interpreted though; one might consider someone accepting a new job as that person “changing who they are.” And I definitely wouldn’t consider something as basic as that as selling out.


The phrase “selling out” can be interchanged with the term expanding, because they basically mean the same thing. People compromise to make money. People who want to make a little more money compromise a little more. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it all depends on where you’re sitting.

Regardless of it’s creators motives, any IP on the market is there solely to make money, otherwise it simply wouldn’t be there.

As an example, a lot of people define Metallica’s release of the Black Album as the turning point in their career; when they officially sold out. But the fact is that they “sold out” when they first signed the contracts that brought them to the release of Kill Em All. The only reason people see the Black Album as the “sell out point” is because it was so different from their other releases and it left a lot of fans scratching their heads in dissapointment, therefore the only way they could deal with it was by insulting the band through said mantra. Of course they changed their style to expand their audience (ie, make more cash), but they did it for the same reason that anyone found out about them in the first place. So like I said, selling out is a term that’s used mostly by people who don’t get what they want/expect from something that’s been consistent. People apply the term to music a lot more because it’s so human, but if a game developement studio changes the look of their characters to make them more accessible, or upgrades the gameplay so a gamer can derive more fun, nobody really holds it against them (although I expect the former will change as games become more and more mainstream), and when the same studio releases a crappy iteration of the IP, people say it sucks, not that they sold out.

In my opinion being truly successful is creating something that you like and that everyone else likes as well…PIXAR does it all the time :p.

  Tool puts it best:

“All you read and wear or see and hear on TV is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar so shut up and buy my new record.”


I just have to chime in and say that I listen to this station every day, because of that, on account of it being so incredibly bizarre. CC doesn’t do much with the station, and I think the majority stake is owned by a Spanish-language radio conglomerate. It isn’t like anything else on radio.


if i had a chance to sell out i would do it immediately. i find it funny when fans think artist should stay poor or not change just to satisfy them. i myself would laugh all the way to the bank, retire, and play golf every day until i died.


This is the problem when personal work becomes professional work. Some artists keep their integrity, most don’t.


Giving up on your dream because you can’t stand the flack.


If artists didn’t “sell out”, fanboy geeks would have nothing to get all worked up and sweaty about.


This is the problem when personal work becomes professional work. Some artists keep their integrity, most don’t.

I think that’s the delema, selling out but keeping the integrity of your work.

I think the Renaussance (i can’t spell) artists are a good example, and that time period. All those artists had to please their employer, but they never stopped exploring and progressing their art.


This world does not allow you to keep your pride.
It feeds daily on your dignity and is not satisfied until it scrapes the last drop of prestige from your bones.



If you’re doing cg for a living there is certainly no such thing as selling out because you don’t own the copyrights to what you are working on anyway, well in most cases if you are a commercial artist. However if you are a copyright holder to your work you do have the opportunity to “sell out”. Look at fine artist Thomas Kinkade. He is allegedly an accomplished abstract artist, but is known for his rustic realist paintings of cottages and light houses. Depending on your point of view, some say he sold out since he gave up on his abstract work. But I’m sure he’s a happier person with the respect and rewards he has attained by making more acessible work. So maybe selling out doesn’t have to be all that bad. On the other hand, if you make sports games … :wink: