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Thread: I am an artist. (Random artistic thoughts.)

  1. #1
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    Smile I am an artist. (Random artistic thoughts.)

    I am an artist. This statement can have a lot of connotations. What do you normally think about when you picture someone as an artist? Even I picture an "artist" as a scruffy pretentious hipster, despite having worked with many animators, illustrators, etc. who are NOT the stereotypical "artist." most of them, in fact.

    One can make a living as an artist. I feel I have had a successful career as an artist, but not in the normal way one pictures as an "artist." Where am I going with this? Well, I don't know really. I'm just putting some thoughts out here. I'm running the risk of boasting about my own abilities.

    It's just something I've been thinking a lot about in the last couple of days. Here I am, getting a degree in art, already having a successful career as an artist and animator. It seems silly in a way. I've been thinking about it because there was an art auction at school this week. Two of the bowls I made sold for a combined total of ~$550. In the art world, that's not really much though. A painting (not mine) in the auction sold for $1200. It was done by an artist that has since passed on. That's the way it goes in art. Usually, art is not valuable until the artist that created it is dead.

    I could possibly make a living just making stuff on the lathe. I could also make a living by going back into animation. I could pursue more painting. Maybe I'm just trying to figure out what I'm going to do after I graduate. I originally started the degree in the hope that I could be an art or animation prof. Now, I'm not sure it could happen, at least not at USC for reasons I won't go into here. Let's just say that if I had a degree before Lori and I moved here, I would probably be an art prof right now, not a student. Frustrating.

    "Artist" is a very broad term. Many of my former animation co-workers are artists, not just animators. They excel at other artistic pursuits, like sculpture, illustration, design, etc. even acting. I think it comes down to being an artistic and/or creative person. You either have it or you don't. The best artists I know do well at all their artistic interests, not just the job they happen to be doing at the time. They are compelled by some unseen force to draw/paint/sculpt/act all the time. I don't have that drive. Maybe I would be a better artist if I did.

    A former co-worker of mine sold his oil paintings for thousands of dollars. They were not anything special, in my opinion, but he had a shtick that appealed to a certain group of affluent people. It's important to find the right market for your work.

    I've done a lot of things in my artistic career: drawing, painting, illustration, design, animation, photography, even film-making. I think my wife will tell you that I am an actor as well. I'm kind of a goofy guy that improvises stuff on the fly to get some lolz. You have to be an actor to be a good animator, in my opinion.

    I have the unique opportunity to choose what I would like to pursue, as a former prof said to me. My wife has been very good to me and supported me for several years. She bankrolled my university education. I felt like a ridiculous financial burden on the household income. Being a financial burden on the household takes a toll on a dude's manhood. Having a go at being a fine artist would be tough. I could probably get freelance animation work almost immediately because of the sheer number of people I know in the biz. I enjoy animating. I also enjoy painting though. I took a graphic design course and my prof encouraged me to switch my major to graphic design, which was a nice compliment. I told her that's not my thing though. I had a painting prof tell me my work was "very impressive." I get countless complements on the woodworking I've been doing in the last 8 months. I even have profs asking me for lathe workshops. Ironic considering I'm not allowed to be a prof simply because I don't have a degree. A photography prof encouraged me to pursue photography. I don't think that's my thing either. I guess I have lots of paths to go down and I'm standing at the crossroads, wondering, "Where do I go from here?"

    There's not really a point to my rambling. It's just stuff I've been thinking about. I'm kind of stuck following Lori around for her career. Mine is more mobile in that respect. Unfortunately, there is little to no animation work in Columbia, that I know of. There is a happening art scene, however. Again, that would be a tough go. I think I would have to rent a studio space in the arts district to make a name for myself in the scene--another financial burden.

    Do my trusted internet friends have any thoughts they would care to share on the subject? I think I would enjoy some dialogue.

  2. #2
    Corvette Enthusiast Kchrpm's Avatar
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    Various thoughts:
    Simple: Put your woodwork on a more formal site for selling handcrafted goods, like Etsy, if it's not already there.
    Slightly Odd: How long does it take you to do your excellent personalized paintings, what I will broadly call vehicle caricatures? Would you be capable of setting up a booth at a car show, selling your woodwork, and also offering to paint vehicle caricatures to attendees upon request at the show? It could be good business and great exposure. Perhaps even coordinate with organizers to offer up a free painting as a prize to concourse winners, who will likely choose to display that prize at future events since a) it will be a unique part of their display and b) it will document their award
    Perhaps out of your comfort zone: a YouTube channel with Bob Ross style painting of complex car related scenes.

    While none of these may result in financial windfalls of any sort, it would allow you to have finished goods that are requested and appreciated by their recipients, a definite source of self-assurance.
    Get that weak shit off my track

  3. #3
    Lithium Crystal Miner George's Avatar
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    Random thoughts...

    I like the Slightly Odd ideas above, assuming you don't mind being like those guys with a stool and an easel at the beach, drawing caricatures of people on vacation. If you forego the stationary booth with your other wares, you could always stroll along at car shows with a folding stool and portable easel, with samples of your work on one side of the easel and offer your work right there on the spot, since many car owners sit near their cars at shows and aren't wandering around like the slack jawed yokels who drove there in something beige and boring.

    Of course, this isn't a Big Picture Idea (Picture! Get it? Aw, nevermind ), and quite possibly insulting to a Professional Artiste who has stunning work at his website, but I'm just sittin' on the proverbial barstool over here and jawin' at ya some. I don't know if sitting with a pad on an easel and some Sharpie markers next to food trucks, the inflatable bounce house, and downwind from the porta-potties at a weekend festival would appeal to every artist, but some must make decent weekend cash doing that.

    Why is character spelled with an h, but not caricatures? I demand answers!

    My daughter exhibits amazing (to me) artistic ability. She is terrible in math, but she can draw, like her Dad, and his Dad...on an amateur level. My son, on the other hand, can do relatively complex mathematics in his head, but his handwriting is atrocious and he cannot color within the lines. Some people have it and some don't, I think. I should sit down with her and draw more than we do, which is almost never. There's always something that seems more urgent at the time. I think I'll make some time for that this weekend, even if it's just with pencils and lined notebook paper.

    I was always one for technical illustrations and drafting. I go for shapes and perspective and abstract things, but ones with sharp edges. I wanted to be a draftsman in high school and took Technical Drafting I and II, and planned to take III my senior year, but it was cancelled due to lack of interest, and probably because computers were putting draftsmen with T-squares, triangles, and compasses out of business even in the mid 1980s. And I realize drafting isn't "art", but I liked it, and still try to write that way sometimes - you know, the all caps printing with no vertical line for the E and other stylized ways of telling people that, like George Costanza, I could have been an architect.

    I could probably get freelance animation work almost immediately because of the sheer number of people I know in the biz. I enjoy animating.
    Well, there's always that to pay the bills, and doing what you love on the side. I imagine being an animator is a bit of a sweat-shop kind of job, but I bet it pays a lot better than the average "cubicle job". Maybe not, but that's my guess, since not just everyone can walk in off the street and learn to do it.
    Last edited by George; March 4th, 2016 at 11:57 AM.

  4. #4
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    When I lived in Hamilton, there was a weekly car show in the summer that I would go to. I took a lawn chair, would sketch cars there and got lots of compliments on my art. I was offering sketches for a mere $20. Only once did someone pay for one. Clearly, that was not the right market. I may do better at concours, but there are none around here that I know of. A guy told me once that I wasn't charging enough, but he didn't buy a sketch either.

    I never went out of my way to do any marketing for my fine art. Doing caricatures of people is not my thing. There are others that are much better at it than I. I have already considered doing wood-related videos. Alas, my time doing wood stuff is winding down and will be pretty much non-existent once I finish school. I will no longer have access to the shop and tools.

  5. #5
    Lithium Crystal Miner George's Avatar
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    Cam, I have an idea for you that I present in all seriousness: writing and illustrating books for children. Sure, Dr. Seuss has many imitators, but as someone who has been reading bedtime stories for many years now, I'm often struck by two things while reading kids' books: the artwork is usually excellent, and the text is often quite minimal. In some cases, the stories are so simple that it seems anyone could write them.

    I read a book last night called "Ninja Red Riding Hood" and while doing so, I noticed the particularly awesome artwork and thought, "I bet Cam could do this", and that's what led to this post. While googling just now to show an example of the artwork in this book, I found, of all things, a video trailer for it. It shows none of the text (which is written wonderfully in limerick format) but shows some of the artwork, which reminded me of animation, since there is so much motion implied by the still pictures in this book.


  6. #6
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestion. I am not interested in doing that at this time. I have a former co-worker and friend who excels at it. He also works at Dreamworks. Dude is a workaholic.

  7. #7
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    I had a friend of an old school chum ask me if I could do an animated music video for his band. I told him the estimated cost. He told me his paltry budget. I was forced to tell him, "That's not even close." He tried to send me a track to stimulate ideas. I told him that I would not even start without some money up front. He tried to push it anyway, so I was forced to decline.

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    Gotta stand firm man.

  9. #9
    Lithium Crystal Miner George's Avatar
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    Yep, because as soon as you give one customer a break, there will be a thousand more at your door, and the rate you charge just went from $LARGE to $TINY, forever more.

    A probably irrelevant re-told tale (and equally inaccurate quote written from memory) I remember reading in one of Jesse Ventura's books (yeah, I know) in which he recounted business advice about being an actor that he said he got from Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Never read a script until the money is right".
    Last edited by George; May 8th, 2016 at 08:03 AM.

  10. #10
    Crime Fighter Cam's Avatar
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    I got some freelance animation work. It's fun, but frustrating learning the software all over again. I learned this animation software about five years ago for two productions, but it was far enough in the past to almost completely forget how to use it. The learning curve is steep and frustrating.

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