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Art is Not a Thing, It is a Way

black box movement

“Art is not a thing, it is a way.”

Elbert Hubbard, Little Journeys to the Homes of Great Teachers

A famous designer who shall remain nameless takes umbrage at the use of the word “product” to describe tabletop roleplaying books. He finds it too clinical, I guess, or perhaps to commercial or consumer-minded. This same person, without irony, also asserts that the only way to make a living in this publishing niche is to produce expensive, fully-illustrated hardcover books. Once again, I am doing it wrong.

Art is Not a Thing, It is a Way

Allow me to continue my assertion that what we are selling is not art. Not the expensive, fully-loaded traditional core books, not the bare-bones zines, not the things that Dancing Lights Press offers. They are beautiful objects. You can consider them art in the context of a book, either based on its aesthetics or the message of its contents. In the context of roleplaying, they remain tool kits.

Brushes and pigments are not art. The libretto of an opera is not, unto itself, art. A laptop is not art. For the purposes of this argument, art is what is created using those things. Yes, you can find the appearance of a thing pleasing and yes, there are people who collect such objects. They remain products. It is what is created using those objects that is art.

Tabletop roleplaying isn’t a book, or dice, or any other accouterments. It is the experience and interaction of the people around that table, engages in roleplaying. That is where the art is. Products facilitate its creation.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press publishes creative aids and story games that embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation. The spotlight belongs on the creativity of the players as they converse and collaborate on plot, worldbuilding, and character development. Roleplaying is an activity, not a book. Our titles are merely part of the delivery system.

About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

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