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Author Topic: Artist Statement  (Read 22428 times)
Colorado David
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« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2012, 11:41:54 AM »
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Well okay then.  Here's the draft.


Artist Statement

I am a photographer working in a variety of photographic genres, both still and motion picture.  If you are reading this artist statement, you are probably viewing my catalogue or display of Fine Art Photography.  What does Fine Art Photography mean?  Fine Art Photography is the creation of an image that is technically excellent and an expression of the artist’s vision.  In documentary photography or photojournalism, the accurate rendering of an image as it appeared at the time of the photo is most important.  The Fine Art Photographer is freed from that constraint and can create art by any means.  Any technical tool available during the shooting of the photograph or the post processing can be fairly used to create an image that is an expression of the artist’s vision.  In any photographic discipline, the photographer creates order from chaos.  In documentary photography or photojournalism, the photographer accomplishes this by what he includes in the frame or by what he excludes.  That can be achieved either by how the photocomposition is framed or cropped or by the use of selective focus.

The Fine Art Photographer uses these same techniques, but is not limited to them.  All of the various post processing techniques, which may include cloning or manipulation of colors or exposure, such as High Dynamic Range manipulation are used to create the image the artist wants to create.  While the photographic image may not actually exist in nature exactly as printed on the paper or canvas, it is the rendering of the artistic vision rather than the reality of the time and place of the photograph.  This might be as simple as removing a fence or road or as complex as changing the texture or color of foliage.  The word Photograph literally means to paint with light.  So in much the same way the painter uses paints and brushes to create an image that is an expression of his vision, the photographer uses light, and the technology to manipulate it, to create an image that is an expression of his vision.  The constraint I do place on my work is that the image must be one that could occur naturally.

I was raised with a deep respect and appreciation for both art and music.  My parents instilled, supported, and nurtured both disciplines in me.  During my formative years our family were frequent visitors to the Birger Sandzen Gallery in Lindsborg, Kansas.  Sandzen, a Swedish immigrant, settled in Lindsborg, worked, taught and became an integral part of the Lindsborg/Bethany College community.  If you visit the gallery, you will find huge canvases of bold impressionistic renderings of the massive landscape of the American West.  These paintings, when viewed from a distance, capture not only the natural beauty of the land, but also the essence of the American West experience.  Sandzen first visited the Rocky Mountains in 1908.  It was this visit that captured his imagination and sparked his enthusiasm for the grand landscape.

I have loved the Rocky Mountains since my first visit too, although I was four years old at the time.  I was captivated by the same enthusiasm that Sandzen felt.  Since age four I have broadened my appreciation to encompass what can best be called the American West, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Desert Southwest, the Oregon High Desert, the iconic vastness.

Much of this landscape has changed dramatically since Sandzen first laid eyes on it in 1908.  Some of the land has been protected from development and remains much the same, but much has also been developed and most will have many, many times the number of visitors who might have been there sometime in 1908.  It is my goal as an artist working in photography to create images with modern photographic equipment that might have been taken early in the 20th Century.  In addition, I seek to use much the same bold pallet of colors that Sandzen used to render his artistic vision of the land.  Although I seek my own vision as an artist, it is certainly true that Sandzen has been a major influence.  While he used the brush strokes and color of the impressionist, I seek to render the landscape in as great a detail as modern photographic equipment will allow.

At one point in my career I followed the work of Peter Beard.  During the period of time Peter was living and working at his camp in Kenya, he would print his photographs showing the sprocket holes.  He did this to prove that he had framed the shot the way he wanted it in the camera and didn’t depend on cropping during the printing process to accomplish his vision.  While this might be a noble effort in documentary photography or photojournalism, it doesn’t fit my vision for Fine Art Photography.  My goal is to produce a photograph that is both technically excellent and a visually pleasing rendering of my artistic vision.  Within this definition, cropping and other post processing techniques are open to me.  The photographs you see, either in the catalogue or display, meet these criteria.  In the end a photograph isn’t a portrayal of what you, either the photographer or the viewer see, it’s an expression of what you feel.  I hope my photographs accomplish this for you and I hope you enjoy them.  Thank you very much for your interest.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2012, 12:27:40 PM »
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OK, trying to be constructive (as one who's not a fan of these statements)...

It doesn’t strike me as pretentious, so that doesn't put me off. The language is clear and the grammar correct, so you’ve avoided coming over as someone whose writing is so poor that it explains why he takes pictures (I saw one where the guy's apostrophes were so random they looked like dust spots).

Don't you think it's far too long? Does the sort of person who reads this need telling what he's probably doing, let alone what Fine Art photography is, or how it differs from documentary photography? Why not other genres too? I'd consider simply dropping the first two paragraphs.

What’s the point of the Peter Beard section when you conclude it by saying it doesn’t fit your vision? I don’t think quite the same of the Sandzen content, though perhaps there’s too much about him and his inspiration? There’s no need to say he was an influence when that’s already clear from the “it is my goal” sentence, and you also repeat the “modern photographic equipment” point.

In some ways, it came over more as an About Me, rather than a statement of artistic goals. Do you not think so?

John
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Isaac
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2012, 01:10:18 PM »
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Here's the draft.
Much as John Beardy suggested: I only started to pay attention half-way through the next to last paragraph, here - "It is my goal as an artist working in photography..." - that seems like the beginning to me; and at that point I would need some kind of explanation as to how you had encountered that particular tradition of landscape painting, and where I will see the influence in your work (that'll make me feel clever when I notice). Not that I want to know that much about Birger Sandzen, this is supposed to tell me about your work not his.

Much as John Beardy suggested, telling me about Peter Beard seems only to be telling me about what your work is not about - I don't need to know.

"In the end a photograph isn’t a portrayal of what you, either the photographer or the viewer see, it’s an expression of what you feel." My guess is that notion has a whole tradition in the visual arts and photography, so you could tell me how your work relates to that tradition (has developed that tradition further).
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 01:35:11 PM by Isaac » Logged
john beardsworth
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« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2012, 01:31:26 PM »
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A tiny question re American English. Would it be "pallet" as you wrote, or "palette"?
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 01:33:26 PM by johnbeardy » Logged

KLaban
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« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2012, 01:57:23 PM »
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I've just stumbled upon a most useful artist's statement generator and have now used it to update my own statement.

http://10gallon.com/statement2000/

Laban's Artist Statement
 
Through my work I attempt to examine the phenomenon of Popeye as a metaphorical interpretation of both Rubens and farking.

What began as a personal journey of cockism has translated into images of pizza and ear lobes that resonate with whitey people and begs them to question their own puceness.

My mixed media carrot embodies an idiosyncratic view of the pontif, yet the familiar imagery allows for a connection between Elvis, houses and pizzas.

My work is in the private collection of wifey who said “cripes”, that's some real stunning Art stuff.

I am a recipient of a grant from Folsom Prison where I served time for stealing mugs and tie clips from the gift shop of the British embassy. I have exhibited in group shows at Pizza Hut and Tatty Moderne, though not at the same time. I currently spend my time between my loo and Berlin.

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Walt Roycraft
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« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2012, 02:24:18 PM »
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I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.

Here's mine.
http://www.roycraftart.com/artist-statement/
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Isaac
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« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2012, 03:32:06 PM »
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Not to be overtly blunt - but if you don't get it - then frankly; yes its you.

You're shooting the messenger. My advice - Hire someone to write your artist statement for you, and this time let them write rather than forcing your words on them! [revised]


Sorry, but maybe you should look up some of the words I chose to use in the dictionary.

Since coming to the  U.S.A. I habitually do look up the words in several dictionaries because American English usage can sometimes be quite different. Where do you imagine I took the definition of portentous from?


Speaking of the ivory tower, other readers may be interested in this pdf article (worth a look just for the lemon-juice bank-robber anecdote) -

"Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments"
« Last Edit: April 17, 2012, 10:41:23 AM by Isaac » Logged
Josh-H
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« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2012, 05:20:11 PM »
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I was thinking of posting the draft of my Artist Statement to get some feel from everyone here.  It is still a draft after all and not posted anywhere yet.  But, now I'm a little afraid.  I did let a photographer colleague read it and got a favorable review (someone who is neither my wife or another loved one), but this is a pretty tough crowd.  I am getting a lot out of the discussion.


Anytime you put your work out into a public space (be it a photograph or an artist statement or whatever) you have to be prepared to take criticism. It requires a thick skin to put work out for feedback since no one likes to cop criticism - and you are bound to cop some. There are those who will attempt to help you and those who will attempt to tear you down simply because they take some sort of pleasure in it. Learning to differentiate between the two is an important skill to take advantage of feedback.

This is a tough crowd on lula. Whilst there are many great members here and an incredible depth of technical knowledge; there are also some really snide cynics and 'couch experts' who regularly tear down people's work; yet never post anything themselves - let alone anything of substance.  You have to have not only a thick skin; but also a strong belief in your work and the ability to recognise useful feedback from ignorant opinion. Do not be swayed or put off because one or two people from the luxury of internet anonymity decide to pick your work to pieces. You have to stay focused on your intent and take people's opinions into consideration for what they are worth.

Kudos respect to you for coming out and putting your own artist statement out there. That takes balls (especially with this crowd). I doubt any of the critics that have responded here will post their own artist statements (or even photographs for that matter). I would suggest that you take their comments with the proverbial grain or two of salt. The old adage that 'it isn't enough to succeed - you have to see those around you fail' (or something similar to that effect) is very true.

I put my own artist statement out purely as an example of how I went about it (BTW: I did hire someone to write mine; but I did work very closely with them on it to be sure it captured and reflected my work). I didn't ask for comment or criticism on it. Although; a strong argument could probably be made that I invited it simply by the posting of it in this thread. Either way; I won't be dissuaded from my intent just because someone here doesn't like it or felt compelled to attempt to tear it down.

Ultimately; this is a great proving ground for photographs and artist statements and indeed just about anything photography related; since the crowd is tough - very tough. As long as you realise that going in; that you have a thick skin and are prepared to take a knock or two then there is plenty to learn here. Just as long as your radar and troll filter are in operational order. Grin
« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 05:25:29 PM by Josh-H » Logged

Schewe
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« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2012, 06:13:32 PM »
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Mine...
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Colorado David
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« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2012, 07:39:21 PM »
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I'm curious, how many people, after reading my draft, looked up Birger Sandzen?

I know it's too long and needs to be edited. That's why it's a draft. I felt the need to explain some of the technical since a lot of people pick at photo post processing as some kind of sacrilege.  I appreciate the critiques.

As for writing, I used to have the AP Style Book pretty much memorized.  Strunk & White ain't so bad either. Grin
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Isaac
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« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2012, 08:53:09 PM »
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I'm curious, how many people, after reading my draft, looked up Birger Sandzen?
Nope.

...a lot of people pick at photo post processing as some kind of sacrilege.
Perhaps it will be enough to give people something else that they will feel informed enough to talk about in relation to your work.

the AP Style Book pretty much memorized.  Strunk & White ain't so bad either.
Style: Toward Clarity and Grace -- but what's really helpful is that you actually have an understandable and different story to tell.


« Last Edit: April 14, 2012, 08:58:47 PM by Isaac » Logged
kencameron
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« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2012, 09:40:32 PM »
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As long as ... you have a thick skin and ... your radar and troll filter are in operational order. Grin

Of course you need a thick skin to comment as well, given the propensity of some people to react with ad hominem abuse at any adverse comment about their work, however carefully it may be phrased.  You, for example, seem to be suggesting that the people who expressed reservations about your artist statement are trolls who are motivated by a compulsive desire to tear things down and aren't brave enough to post artist statements or photographs of their own. Not me, sir. I was only trying to help.

Btw, the problem with "portentous" is that it has two meanings, one of which ("marvellous, amazing, prodigious") I assume you mean, and the other ( "marked by pompousness; pretentiously weighty") I assume you would rather avoid.  Pointing that kind of thing out is surely best understood as being motivated by a desire to help you rather than tear you down. This kind of ambiguity, between an intended and a very much unintended meaning, often lies in wait for the unwary. On another Lula thread, someone once talked about "the fundaments of photography". I assume he meant the fourth meaning in the linked definition rather than the first.
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Isaac
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« Reply #32 on: April 14, 2012, 09:46:39 PM »
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... those who will attempt to tear you down simply because they take some sort of pleasure in it.

Your current artist statement doesn't hurt me, it hurts you; improving your artist statement won't help me, it'll help you.
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Josh-H
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« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2012, 12:58:33 AM »
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Quote
Of course you need a thick skin to comment as well, given the propensity of some people to react with ad hominem abuse at any adverse comment about their work, however carefully it may be phrased.  You, for example, seem to be suggesting that the people who expressed reservations about your artist statement are trolls who are motivated by a compulsive desire to tear things down and aren't brave enough to post artist statements or photographs of their own. Not me, sir. I was only trying to help.

I must have missed the bit where I was asking for your help. Sorry about that, I will try to pay more attention.

So where is your artist statement? (or anything of substance for that matter)

Btw: There are hundreds of words in the English language that have multiple meanings. Because you might be struggling with the context of one word; does not mean its use is incorrect or unclear.

Your current artist statement doesn't hurt me, it hurts you; improving your artist statement won't help me, it'll help you.

Im sorry, but your comments are so far off base as to be pure throw away material. From what I can see of your history you have never posted anything of substance to lula - period. Perhaps when you have shown what you are capable of people might take you seriously.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 03:57:46 AM by Josh-H » Logged

kencameron
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« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2012, 05:44:20 AM »
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I must have missed the bit where I was asking for your help. Sorry about that, I will try to pay more attention.

So where is your artist statement? (or anything of substance for that matter)

Btw: There are hundreds of words in the English language that have multiple meanings. Because you might be struggling with the context of one word; does not mean its use is incorrect or unclear.


You posted a link to an artist statement in a thread about the value of artist statements. By doing so, you implicitly invited comment (or were you expecting only applause?). Your statement needed help, in part because it contained a clearly unintended ambiguity which made me cringe, not struggle, to the extent that originally I couldn't even bear to mention it, and also for other reasons that have been pointed out. I liked your photographs and was genuinely concerned at the prospect that people might judge them adversely because, as a piece of writing,  your artist statement is, in my not uninformed opinion (degrees in literature, lifetime practice in writing), of lesser quality than your photographs are as photographs. You may, of course, disagree - but couldn't you have a go at disagreeing without lashing out? I still like your photographs.  I don't have an artist statement because I am not sure I am an artist, and generally don't believe in them (although I like Schewe's, and a few others). I have posted a few photographs on this site and intend to post more. But that is irrelevant. Your artist statement is what it is, regardless of my statements or my photographs. Paying more attention would be a great idea, particularly to the low credibility of sarcasm as a strategy in debate, and to the concept of the "ad hominem argument". All such arguments are, literally,  worthless.
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Rob C
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« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2012, 03:04:14 PM »
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I don't think this crowd is as tough as all that: to be perfectly honest, I think that, in general, folks here tend to tell it like they see it. Some find it necessary to do so in riddles where others are drawn to the martial arts, but at the end of the day the problem is often one of the 'artist' simply taking himself/herself too seriously for his/her own good.

I wonder what Vincent's statement would have been: lend me an ear?

Rob C
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #36 on: April 15, 2012, 03:20:22 PM »
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  rather who can post the last word in the most hurtful way.

Sharon Van Lieu

but at the end of the day the problem is often one of the 'artist' simply taking himself/herself too seriously for his/her own good.




 
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Isaac
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« Reply #37 on: April 15, 2012, 03:24:27 PM »
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Sharon, that's kind-of cryptic - do you mean that Rob C's comment is an example of what you mean by someone trying to "post the last word in the most hurtful way"?
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N Walker
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« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2012, 03:31:06 PM »
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where others are drawn to the martial arts,

Rob C

Some of our friends across the pond use 'dude' or 'bud' in posts when matters get a tad warm - terms of endearment no doubt.

Rob,

Some of your posts tickle me.

« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 03:58:54 PM by Nick Walker » Logged

kencameron
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« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2012, 05:06:51 PM »
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Josh is a much better photographer than most on this site. That doesn't seem to count for much anymore - rather who can post the last word in the most hurtful way.
Sharon Van Lieu
Dude, I think he is a fine photographer, and have said so, in, I think, every single post I have made on this thread. That will be my  last word.
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