Artist or Technician?
Ryan and Katie's stash, January 2013. (Photo: iPhone 5.) This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
Are you all about what you create, or all about your tools?
Artists are all about what we create. We couldn't care less what tools we or someone else used to create something; we're concerned with the art itself. Artists are all about vision: the ability to see something that hasn't been created yet.
We don't care about the process; the final art is all that matters.
Sure, if we see something really cool we might ask another artist how he got that effect, but we don't spend much of our time blabbing about tools or techniques when we could be making more art, or exchanging ideas instead.
Poke fun of our tools, and who cares? We take it as a compliment — and it marks you as an idiot. As artists, we force whatever tools we have at our disposal to create what we demand: to take what's in our mind's eye and fix it in tangible form.
To an artist, his work is him. His work is his vision realized. He is his work. His art is his own soul. His art is important, while the tools are irrelevant.
Artists are consummate technicians, possessing virtuosic ability to make our tools do exactly what we need then to do — but the tools are just an enabler; never the end result.
If you poke fun of my camera, I take it as a compliment because it means I'm able to work around bigger roadblocks than the next sap to get the results I want. When my kids ask me to fetch a piece of paper, scissors and a red crayon, they certainly would give me a funny look if I said they had a good or a crappy crayon. Who cares when what's important is making a red heart for Mama from scratch? The end result matters, the methods don't.
Technicians, on the other hand, are all about their tools. Poke fun of a technician's tools or how he uses them, and he'll take it personally. To a technician, he is his tools. His tools are a physical extension of his body, so say something good or bad about his camera, and he takes it personally.
This distinction dawned on me one morning when I reflected on how my four-year-old is already an artist, not wanting any of us to see any of her pieces before they are complete. She couldn't care less about what brand of marker she's using, but she sure cares about the integrity of her vision before it's realized in the final work.
Most of the people reading this website, and writing other websites, are computer technicians. That's OK, but never confuse a technician with an artist. Technicians are just about the tools, while artists are about we we can create with them.
I finally realized that this is the explanation behind why some people take it personally when I poke fun of a camera or piece of photo gear. Unless you're they guy who designed it, if it's something you merely bought instead of created yourself, who cares? Technicians do, but not artists.
What makes a good tool to a technician (shadow noise, resolution, blah blah blah) is entirely different than what makes a good tool to the artist who actually sees and uses it as intended to create. We're more concerned if a camera or film renders colors as we want it rendered, and how well the camera gets out of our way so we can concentrate on our image, instead of having to concentrate on jockeying around a camera.
It's never about numbers or specifications. It's only about how well something actually works, and how the images look to the skilled eye. Any idiot can run controlled tests in a lab (and they sure do), but that doesn't tell us anything about how good the images look.
I write this site to help other artists by sharing what I've learned to save us all time in selecting and using the right tools so we can get down to business. It's never about what's the best camera, it's about what camera makes it the easiest and fastest to create what we need to create. Artists like to make things; we could care less about buying more cameras. I can't help it if technicians run amok on the Internet researching more toys to buy solely for the sake of telling everyone about it, as if buying a CX Swiss Military Watch rated to 20,000 feet will make you some sort of superman; no one can dive that deep without a submarine (in which case any watch works), so who cares if your fancy watch can?
Show me your art, not your toys. I don't care what car or gun or camera you have; show me the races you've won, your targets with the "10" shot out or the one-man exhibitions you've hung.
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