Do you have trouble calling yourself an “artist?”  I sure do.  I’ve always figured I’m about as much an artist as Lady Ga Ga is a singer.  One day I looked it up:  Artist is defined as a person who produced works in any of the arts which are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.  Another definition states:  A person whose trade or profession requires a knowledge of design, drawing, painting.  There’s more, but I think the one we all dwell on is this:  A person whose work exhibits exceptional skill.  Rings a bell?

 

All the above qualifies, and more.  But I think we get hung up on the “exceptional skill” part.  Why?  As we walk through museums most of the works are by famous recognizable artists.  If we don’t recognize them it’s not the artists fault, it’s ours.  If the person rates being exhibited in a museum surely they qualify as an artist right?  How about a local gallery?  The bar is certainly lowered as local artists, usually still living and struggling to eeek out a living are featured.  But because someone noticed their work, and by virtue of someone being willing to hang it on the wall of a place that person titled “a gallery” then this person is an artist!

Canon 5D, 24-105mm F4L IS USM  @F4  8 seconds  40mm  ISO 1600

 

All the above qualifies, and more.  But I think we get hung up on the “exceptional skill” part.  Why?  As we walk through museums most of the works are by famous recognizable artists.  If we don’t recognize them it’s not the artists fault, it’s ours.  If the person rates being exhibited in a museum surely they qualify as an artist right?  How about a local gallery?  The bar is certainly lowered as local artists, usually still living and struggling to eeek out a living are featured.  But because someone noticed their work, and by virtue of someone being willing to hang it on the wall of a place that person titled “a gallery” then this person is an artist 

Is it possible for someone to be an artist, yet not recognized?  I think very basic thought show it’s possible that talented artists often go unnoticed or unrecognized all the time.  Don’t believe me?  Recently Pablo Picasso’s personal electrician came forward with 271 never before seen or recorded original works of art by Pablo himself.  Where these works of art.. really art.. if no one had previously seen them?  Or did they become works of art as soon as some stuffy guy with a French accent squint through his monocle and proclaim the works “ART!”  I think in this case we call all agree, even secreted away in the electricians garage, these 271 works were art all along.  Valued in excess of 100 million franc’s they’d better be.

 

Is it possible for someone to be an artist, yet not recognized?  I think very basic thought show it’s possible that talented artists often go unnoticed or unrecognized all the time.  Don’t believe me?  Recently Pablo Picasso’s personal electrician came forward with 271 never before seen or recorded original works of art by Pablo himself.  Where these works of art.. really art.. if no one had previously seen them?  Or did they become works of art as soon as some stuffy guy with a French accent squint through his monocle and proclaim the works “ART!”  I think in this case we call all agree, even secreted away in the electricians garage, these 271 works were art all along.  Valued in excess of 100 million franc’s they’d better be.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 12-24mm F4.5  @F8  .6sec  12mm  ISO 1600

 

What about photography.   A true sticky wicket.  Every time a photographer tries to define what makes a photographer an artist they’re labeled self-serving.  Even though I know better I’ll give it a try and attempt to define when a photographer technically becomes an artist. 

BkkSteve defines a photographer as an artist when:  The photographer looks beyond the basic technical settings that derive the exposure, and instead frames the composition exposure notwithstanding.

 

That’s it?  Yes.  In the most basic sense, I believe that when a photographer starts noticing what’s in his/her viewfinder and arranges what he/she sees into a cogent composition, then it’s at this moment they become an artist.  Quite the revelation I’m sure.


Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC  @F8  1/400th  900mm  ISO 200

 

That’s it?  Yes.  In the most basic sense, I believe that when a photographer starts noticing what’s in his/her viewfinder and arranges what he/she sees into a cogent composition, then it’s at this moment they become an artist.  Quite the revelation I’m sure.

I wouldn’t presume they’re a good artist, or a famous artist, or even an artist whose work will hang in a ‘”gallery” someday.  But they are an artist.  Beyond any doubt.  This is we as photographers start being artist.  A starting point.  A starting point it necessary to claim we’ve arrived anywhere.

 

Sure, most of us I’m sure have tons of room to grow as artists, but it’s important you recognize yourself as an artist.  Why?  Well, like I said, it’s a starting point.  Once you accept that through your photography, you’re truly an artist, then you’ll need to make the conscious decision if you intend your art to be with purpose or without.  If your art has purpose then it will have direction.  With direction it will travel a journey leading to improvement, to refinement, to your vision.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC  @F5.6  1/1250th  900mm  ISO 200

 

Sure, most of us I’m sure have tons of room to grow as artists, but it’s important you recognize yourself as an artist.  Why?  Well, like I said, it’s a starting point.  Once you accept that through your photography, you’re truly an artist, then you’ll need to make the conscious decision if you intend your art to be with purpose or without.  If your art has purpose then it will have direction.  With direction it will travel a journey leading to improvement, to refinement, to your vision 

Whether or not my ‘art’ is good or not I’ll leave to the opinions of others.  Some will think it’s good, some will vote bad.  What concerns me, and only concerns me, is if my art accurately represents my vision.  If it does then I’m satisfied.  How others see my vision is simply an evaluation of my art.  I know it’s art because it has purpose unique to its composition.  My vision.

 

What say you dear reader?  Do you create art?  Do you like my art?  Yes, your opinion is as meaningful as the opinion of anyone else, especially that stuffy guy with the French accent.  Without you art wouldn’t exist.  The stuffy French guy with the monocle notwithstanding, art is the domain of the common man.  We often define art through consumerism.  We buy the recordings of artists, we buy their prints, we hire them to design and decorate our homes.  An artist is nothing without his/her adoring public.  Yet, they’re still an artist even if their work is kept from the public for nearly 100 years in an electricians garage on the French Riviera.  You’re an artist the moment you look through the viewfinder and frame your composition with purpose.  With vision.

Nikon D2h, Nikkor 300mm F2.8 AF-S w/2xTC  @F5.6  1/750th  900mm  ISO 200

 

What say you dear reader?  Do you create art?  Do you like my art?  Yes, your opinion is as meaningful as the opinion of anyone else, especially that stuffy guy with the French accent.  Without you art wouldn’t exist.  The stuffy French guy with the monocle notwithstanding, art is the domain of the common man.  We often define art through consumerism.  We buy the recordings of artists, we buy their prints, we hire them to design and decorate our homes.  An artist is nothing without his/her adoring public.  Yet, they’re still an artist even if their work is kept from the public for nearly 100 years in an electricians garage on the French Riviera.  You’re an artist the moment you look through the viewfinder and frame your composition with purpose.  With vision.

 

Until next time..