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Author Topic: How to do what you love...  (Read 10637 times)
gryffyn
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« on: January 19, 2006, 10:16:48 AM »
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An interesting blog entry by Paul Graham titled "How To Do What You Love", struck me as having relevance to the "Is it Art" forum, at least tangentially.  You can find the full essay here:

   http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html

There was a reference at the bottom which said:

"Donald Hall said young would-be poets were mistaken to be so obsessed with being published. But you can imagine what it would do for a 24 year old to get a poem published in The New Yorker. Now to people he meets at parties he's a real poet. Actually he's no better or worse than he was before, but to a clueless audience like that, the approval of an official authority makes all the difference. So it's a harder problem than Hall realizes. The reason the young care so much about prestige is that the people they want to impress are not very discerning."

If you substitute the word "photographer" or "artist" for "poet" in the above, the relevance becomes more apparent.

Whenever people try to propose a single, unified definition of art and artists, in relation to photography, I always get the gut feel that they are trying to create a taxonomy that will maximize their ability to obtain "prestige".  Interesting....

And regarding Paul's essay, I'm one that falls into the "two job route".  My day job is in the Information Technology field, and that pays for the photographic toys and ability to go and make images.  Though I do hope to transition towards making the photography a more lucrative endeavour over the next half dozen years or so, and correspondingly reduce my IT work.  The one good thing I have is that I love my software work a lot.  Best of both worlds.

This leads me to the identification of another facet of "artist photographer", IMNSHO.

Passion.

I don't think (mind you, this is my sphincterous opinion) that you can call yourself an "artist" in any field of art unless you have it.

Ever notice how the most passionate of artists tend to ignore the discussion of what constitutes "real" artists and art, and correspondingly they seem to be immune to the siren call of prestige and acceptance?  They just get on with doing what they do, with passion and enthusiasm.  And funny enough, the good ones eventually are labelled "artists" by the external world, despite their not being interested in such labels.

So does my commenting on this very subject disqualify me as being an "artist"? ;-)

Hmmm...maybe I should stop typing/pontificating and go take some more photos, eh?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2006, 10:18:14 AM by gryffyn » Logged

.....Andrzej
Tim Gray
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2006, 12:04:28 PM »
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Hi to Andrej in Barrie from Tim in Toronto...

I agree 100% re passion, (necessary but obviously not sufficient) but not so much with the process of definition as a route to prestige.

I do believe that there is at least some value to be extracted from a discussion on "what is art" for the simple reason that we can't communicate without a foundation of shared meaning.  The "I know it when I see it" approach severely limits any kind of rational discussion.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2006, 12:12:40 PM »
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The "I know it when I see it" approach severely limits any kind of rational discussion.

This comment of mine wasn't inteded to limit discussion as much as to highlights the fact that there probably isn't "one true, universal definition" of art/artists, and that we're dealing with opinions and grey areas, not absolute truths.

Discussing personal opinions is valuable.  I find I learn a lot from other opinions and insights which then improves my own work and evolves my appreciation of art.

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not so much with the process of definition as a route to prestige.

I've just seen that some people use the definition process as just such a route.  Art Critics are a good example of that syndrome in action.  They specify and control the definition so as to keep themselves gainfully employed and in the limelight. ;-)

But of course, just because we discuss our own definitions of art/artists, does not immediately imply that all we're after is prestige.
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Mike_Kelly
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2006, 01:49:29 AM »
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After my first solo show I realized I had needed to be patted on the back and told my work had value. Before that I would have told you I shoot because I love it and I would still do it if no one ever saw my work. Then I began to ask myself why go to the hassle of showing work again? It is decidedly not photography. It costs money and a lot of time and takes away from  my photography time. Now that I have had my ego stroked why go there again? I decided, as I mentioned in one of the other threads, that once the work was up on the walls other people started to relate to it in their own way without me being in the picture, so to speak. After that image is taken home by the purchaser, I will be soon forgotten but the image will continue to live in the heart of the person who bought it for the reasons they related to it. For me I still will do the work because I love to, and there is nothing I would rather do, but I will continue to share it because some of the pieces might have a destiny with someone else.

After all why shoot pictures at all, we are witnesses to the scene first hand. We know what it looked like. A primary reason to try and capture it is to share the moment with others.

Only art history majors agree on what is art......because there will be a test at the end of the semester.
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mikeseb
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2006, 09:06:40 AM »
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After my first solo show I realized I had needed to be patted on the back and told my work had value. ....

Wow, Mike, have you been reading my mind? EXACTLY!
My first solo show ends next month. I was at least in part searching for some kind of external validation of the "merit" or "worth" of the work; or some sign that my "vision" (hate that term for all its pretentious vagueness) had value to others. This, even though, were I to have not one attendee nor one sale, I'd still make photographs if only to look at and file away.

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....once the work was up on the walls other people started to relate to it in their own way without me being in the picture....

This was the most amazing part of the opening. It was part of a larger public event, such that it wasn't one of those openings where people gather around to hear the "artist" opine on the state of world affairs, but rather look at the work unimpeded. I was blown away by the experience of seeing a body of my work, beautifully matted and framed, displayed as a coherent set, being thoughfully regarded by strangers. Not sure if they liked or hated it; but if that's what heroin is like, I now know why junkies shoot up.

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....For me I still will do the work because I love to, and there is nothing I would rather do, but I will continue to share it because some of the pieces might have a destiny with someone else.

The analogy to sending your kids off into the world is overused, but apropos. You've tried to convey something, even if you aren't consciously sure what it is. It's a joy when you see others responding on some level to "it", or else finding their own "it" in the image.
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michael sebastian
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Mike_Kelly
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2006, 01:47:43 PM »
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"but rather look at the work unimpeded. I was blown away by the experience of seeing a body of my work, beautifully matted and framed, displayed as a coherent set, being thoughfully regarded by strangers."

MIke,
I feel this way completely. There is something about seeing the work printed and finished in a gallery setting that seems like the logical conclusion of the process of making images.
I much prefer to hide in a corner and watch how people react to the work, than chat with folks. You get a more honest idea by watching them react. In my last show I created a critque form. It lists each image and gives 6 broad brush check-offs like "best of the show, interesting, below par, drop this image". It gives them room to comment. Many visitors were quite surprised at being asked for their opinion and thoughtfully filled  out the forms. It seemed to get folks more engaged in the work. I had about 40% fill them out. I found an interesting thing, that many folks liked an image as "best" that didn't sell. This made me realize that people buy some images , I think, because they have a matching color scheme at home. So it helped me know that just because it doesn't sell doesn't mean people don't like it.

I would encourage any new photographers to do as we have and get brave enough to assemble a body of work and submit it to your local arts and humanties council or other gallery "call for artists". Expect some rejections but don't give up.
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lightwriter
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 06:12:59 PM »
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Allow me to make a pathetic attempt at constraining, if not defining, art.

Art is always subjective and is that which communicates meaning, truth, or beauty, via one or more of the senses, and whose constituent parts are arranged through a refined skill or talent, into a product that is more profound than the sum of its parts.

Personally, I rarely ever get into conversations on this particular topic although I am often baited by a painter friend of mine whose definition of art is often less understood by himself, than by those he subjects.

Validation, whether internal or external, while often comforting, is arguably never truly valid. Therefore, persue your passion and let time sort it out.

C. Painter
« Last Edit: February 15, 2006, 06:42:48 PM by lightwriter » Logged
pchaplo
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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2006, 10:44:02 PM »
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So does my commenting on this very subject disqualify me as being an "artist"? ;-)


Shut up and make some dumb pictures.

<-- thats not a put down, but aq reference to Callahan

Paul
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Wishing You Great Light!
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