I love it when artists like to classify other artists. Or better yet when they like to talk down about other artists because their work isn’t as technical as what they do themselves. I have experienced this a lot over my career as a musician and as a photographer. People love to say how photography isn’t art. But that isn’t my argument for today. It is with other photographers who like to look down upon other photographers for the work they do.
Last year I met a really good photographer. She was still new but had a ton of potential! I handed her my card and she just looked at me and said something about not liking my work. She had only seen my business card and assumed that I am not a true artist. And I will be the first to admit that my work is not traditionally considered art to many, but I do have several buyers of my work who buy art and do consider my books and prints to be art. But it is this assumption that kills me, not in a bad way but in a you’ve got to be kidding me kind of way!
This reminds me of the kid who won’t eat his broccoli because it’s green. They’ve never tried it but they hate it! Plus I found it kind of rude to take a compliment from me and then immediately talk down to me. And I have no problem being an asshole, so if I’m calling you rude, you probably are rude. But what is with all the hate? Why do you even have to talk down to people?
One of my favorite things to do (and actually not very asshole-ish of me at all) is to go to open critiques and give compliments to people’s work. Not false compliments, that would be rude, but really point out what I like. Everyone loves to point out what is wrong but they often don’t follow it up with what is right. And with a proper critique you point out both. What I do is look through the portfolio and if I see something I like I make sure I let them know I like it. This is my way of encouraging artists to keep making art. There are enough people out there who criticize what you do, they criticize me too! So instead of being a prick to other artists, I just want to encourage them all to keep creating.
I must make the disclaimer that if you ask me for a full critique it won’t be all sunshine and roses. I do point out the bad, some people can take it, some can’t.
This also reminds me of when I was taking the train across the country to record a demo and ran into another musician who was also a guitarist. We started talking and I asked him what he played and he went on this long-winded explanation of how he plays this super difficult music with different time changes and progressions blah blah blah. And then he went on to say how rock music is so elementary and not challenging at all. So after his 10-15 minute explanation of what he played he asked what I play. I think he was expecting me to be in awe of his “talent”, of course he didn’t know that I had also played jazz and classical music for many years and knew of all of these super different time changes and progressions. But I just told him what I had played in the past, and that I actually really liked straight up rock and roll. Give me a 4 count and a 6 pack and I’m ready to jam! He of course didn’t talk to me the rest of the trip, he probably thought I was beneath him as a musician. But why does it matter? We all do what we do. I do me, you do you. It is a pretty simple concept.
The whole point is that we are all just a bunch of more evolved monkeys spinning around on a little blue dot in a ginormous universe. The fact that we live in a country where we don’t have to search for clean water and food and shelter every single day is a win in itself! So the next time you’re feeling like you’re better than someone, just remember that there are people in this world who are struggling to simply survive every single day and they don’t give two shits how well you can expose an image or how intricately you can play a guitar. We all live, we all die. What type of legacy do you wish to leave behind? “Man that guy could play guitar, but he sure was an asshole.”