Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Gift & The Curse of An Artist

You know, it's amazing what life throws at you. Things are so much easier when you're a kid when you can only sit back & imagine how you want your life to be when you grow up. But even while pursuing them & succeeding in it, instead of smiling for fulfilling a childhood dream, instead, you ask yourself, was it really worth it.

When I was a kid, I just wanted to draw. I didn't know anything about computers, until 9th grade using it for typing term papers. I didn't know anything about marketing, graphic designing or there was no such thing as a web designer. My only thought of an artist was someone who could draw or paint. And you know what? I was content with that idea.

Unlike 16 years ago, a lot of these cats now jump on the bandwagon seeing graphic design as simple as putting text, clip arts (not their own) & pictures together with colorful fonts acquired on CDs & also learning new tricks & filters in Photoshop & call themselves graphic artists. This is not a stab at graphic designers that can't draw, b/c even when I was in school, some of the best GD couldn't draw, paint or sketch, but they made up for it by being creative with cut & pasting. So it was still an art to their craft. But regardless, we didn't have the computer to actually do the work FOR us.

But I'm knocking the computer either. I just realize as much as I love it & how it's made my job a lot easier, it's also taken a lot of the fun away from my position. Becuz before I was a Graphic Artist or a commercial artist, I was simply just an Artist. And the beauty of being an artist was having the ability to express yourself through whatever craft you chose. You got a chance to let ppl see who you are & what you stand for just by your work. One picture could tell an entire story.

That was the beauty of being an artist. Even at 36, my art lets me return to my inner child. I wouldn't call it a 2nd childhood as Nas would say, b/c I never left my first. It was preserved through my drawings from characters I mimmicked at 5, to those I created on my own.

When I started in my profession, I loved it. The thrill of being paid to do something that I "thought" I loved. The reason I thought I loved it was becuz it was in the art field. But it wasn't the actual ART that grew up loving.

Unlike Art, in my profession, commercial or graphic arts, you spend your life trying to sell yourself to others & to certain markets & genres. And in the end, everything you do is please everyone.... EXCEPT YOU!!!! THE ARTIST.... In this profession, it's so easy to lose touch of you are as an artist & I understand why a lot of artists turn away from it. It's exhausting, becuz it's no longer about YOU.... BUT EVERYBODY ELSE.

And when you want to do things for yourself, you're stressed for time. And sometimes, you'll be so exhausted with trying to please a client with either a logo design, a brochure, a branding, or whatever for whoever... you put yourself in the backburner with incomplete projects that may never see the light of day.

When did it become this? Just wanting to be an artist looking up to ppl like Van Gogh, Michelangelo (during the Blue Period), Harlem Renaissance artists & being inspired by comics like Spiderman, X-Men, Justice League & even G-Force just to end up as hired help trying to please everyone but yourself & many times go unnoticed & never acknowledged like X-mas elves creating the toys that Santa gets all of the praises for.

The only thing that keeps my love fresh is my sketch pad nowadays, in an age when all a person needs is a laptop & certain softwares to be considered an artist. Leaving me with a closet full of mat boards, canvas, different pads, pastels, markers, color pencils, charcoals, oil & acrylic paintings that I'll never know when they'll ever get used again. I say when, b/c I plan on it. Because no matter how much technology grows in the next 20 years, it'll never replace the meaning of true art. And you know, I won't matter who doesn't like it or prefer more "technical" work, b/c I'd want my art to go back to being about me..... Not everybody else, except me.

And plus, if we end up becoming a 3rd world country with no electricity & have to go back to square one, I'd still be able to call myself an artist. And my hieroglyphics will be dope. LOL


Muhammad the Harlem Sk8rboi (MIAAR) said...

This is true in all forms of art. With technology getting greater & greater, it is becoming increasingly easy to produce records, put up sketches, etc. It gives a false sense of art as well. One may think that being an artist is easy since technology has made it simpler to do certain artistic tasks. However, being an artist is something that is completely separate from technology. Like Paul Robeson said "An artist expresses what the common man feels." The common man doesn't have that natural skill to put their feelings in words that are poetic, in a sketch that is vivid, or in a stage production that is thought provoking. Only a true artist can do such a thing. Therefore we will always need people like you George.

Phellah G said...

Appreciate that Muhammad. And I agree. Technology has its place, but computers can't think. They can only do what a person tells it. Many can fake through & learn some strategies. But without knowing the basics outside the technology or having a natural feel for it, they're limited.

Jay_fever said...

If ANYBODY feels you...I feel you homey. Client work 99% of the time is for the birds. And 90% of these new cats that never picked up a pencil, but found out about photoshop yesterday and all of a sudden they're calling themselves graphics designers are wack as hell...straight up. But such is the game we're in. I keep my spirits up by staying tapped into the part of the art scene that interests me at all times via the internet and my subscription to juxtapoz magazine. Stay up homey.

Phellah G said...

Appreciate that Jay. I never heard of juxtapoz magazine, but I definitely wanna look into it. I like going through my old Communication Art magazines every now & then & peeping other artists on the net. But I totally agree, the whole game is wack. And it's those photoshop-instant graphic designers that eff the game up disgracing & belittling the very thing we do & have paid our dues to succeed in.