(GIF by the author for Hyperallergic, via @RFERL0)

During a meeting today with senior editors of international news agencies in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to questions about what US intelligence claims was a Kremlin-directed hacking-and-propaganda campaign to influence last year’s election. His answer was art-related.

“Hackers are free people, just like artists who wake up in the morning in a good mood and start painting,” Putin said.

YouTube video

The Russian leader knows how to play this. In contrast to Western leaders, who often talk about hackers as obese men in their parents’ basements — precisely what Trump said during the first presidential debate in 2016 — he’s cozying up to a demographic that’s close to the front lines of the new global information war, which has been emerging over the last few decades.

But of course, Putin’s perception of what an artist does is so romanticized (and false, much like the stereotype of hackers). Artists don’t just wake up in a good mood and start painting (or sculpting, etc). Professional artists go to work every day and don’t wait for the muses to inspire them. I’m going to assume that hackers — of whom I’ve only known a few (at least the ones who’ve admitted it to me) — do the same.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.