The Reason I Do Art
Ask anyone in the community why they do art. I’m sure that you’re going to find a variety of answers, but that they’ll come back to the same things: because they love it, it helps them express themselves. Art is awesome, because it does allow us to do these things. It’s certainly a part of the reason why I do art. Other reasons? Because I like pretty things, and want to create them. Because I get so excited every time I have a photoshoot or every time I pull up those images onto my computer. Because that moment when you go to pick up your film after waiting for 24+ hours to see how they turned out is just so, so sweet. Because no matter how good I become at it, I can always get better. I’ll never stop learning. The final reason? Because I have to. It’s an urge in me that I just cannot quell.
Something makes me sad, though. What makes me sad is when I see a person, a fellow artist, quit. There is nothing more difficult to comprehend, for me. And often, the reasons that I find for it just aren't what I would expect. They say they don’t feel motivated, because they aren't receiving much attention for them. That they don’t receive any comments. Or, if they do receive comments of them, it’s not what they wanted to hear.
I think to myself that these people have let the love of receiving attention to their art become less important than the love of doing something simply because they love to.
I’m here because I want to talk to the community about never ever losing sight of the reason why we create art in the first place.
The thing is, the great artists that we see, that we aspire to live up to, have either figured this out or have never quelled in their desire to do art for their love of it in the first place. They've given years of their time, their dedication into learning more and creating more. They would have gotten where they are regardless of who followed them. Art isn't something that they do because crowds of other people wanted them to do it – they did it because they wanted to, or had to. It was an urge that needed to be satisfied.
I wanted to share with you all an insight into the minds of people who have achieved much and gone so far with their art, not just spout my opinion. So, I contacted several people who I thought many people would look up to. I haven’t heard back from all of them, but today I can share with you the words of Shane (`YouInventedMe) and John (`kkart). I asked him several questions, which he was happy to answer.
What Shane Had To Say
1. What first got you interested in poetry, and how did you get started?
“I became interested in writing in grade school. When I got to high school, I started playing in bands and focused on writing lyrics. As I got a little older, I made my way back to poetry.”
2. What motivated you to continue with poetry?
“The need to write is something that usually hits me with a physical/mental urgency. I hardly ever just sit down and try to force words out, but when something occurs to me I have to get it scribbled immediately.”
3. What is it about poetry that still keeps you going with it too this day?
“See above. Haha. Honestly, though the frequency of my urge to write varies from year to year, I doubt I'll ever stop completely.”
4. How do you feel about where you are with your poetry? Do you feel like as an accomplished writer, you've learned all you can, or do you feel like you'll never stop learning? Why?
“I certainly don't feel like I've learned all I can. Hell, I've barely learned a small fraction of what's out there. Hopefully, I'll always be picking up new things.”
5. You're quite well known around deviantArt and around the web. Has this positively or negatively affected you in terms of your art? If you did not get the amount of feedback that you do, especially on an art website like deviantArt, is it possible that you would lose interest in writing?
“I plowed away on this site for a couple of years before I really started getting consistent feedback. I have my occasional breaks from deviantART, but even if I was only getting a few readers again, I wouldn't stop. I write because I have to and I post because, well, what else am I going to do. So, yeah, DA is stuck with me for the time being.”
6. What advice would you give to other aspiring writers who may be feeling discouraged by a lack of feedback for their own work?
“If feedback is a concern, get involve in lit groups, particularly ones that specialize in critiquing. Collaborate with other artists, not just writers. Most importantly, just keep writing.”
7. How important do you feel it is to do art for yourself outside of doing it professionally?
“Personally, creating art for myself is its own reward. Playing music, doing hip hop open mics, scribbling poems in the middle of the night - it's all a wonderful release and (sometimes) a great way to connect with other people. Anything else that comes out of it is just a bonus”
What John Had To Say
2. What motivated you to continue with photography?What got me into photography ....well back in the 80's I hung out with my car club and we had a photographer that would often photograph many of the events we would attend with our cars. I was always interested in seeing what he caught and one day he let me use his camera with my own roll of film and a love was born. I got into it for a bit but later it sort of dwindled as I started getting caught up with college and what not. When I moved to Denver, I switched my degree to illustration and had to essentially start all over from scratch and taking classes in photography was a requirement for that degree. It was an skool manual SLR film class with B&W film. We learned to process our own film in the darkroom what not. I was completely utterly hooked.
3. What is it about photography that still keeps you going with it too this day?That's a great question. I think when I started noticing that i was growing as a photographer, that my work was getting better through time. A lot of times we just want to give up and throw in the towel because we don't see ourselves growing. However, it usually takes a wake up call to comparing the images you recently shot to those from say a few back. There is more though, for example when my photographs first started being purchased as prints. To this day it still floors me that people have my work hanging in their homes on their walls. That is a huge compliment to any artist. Things like having magazines contacting me for interviews, companies asking if they can use my images in their annual corporate calendars. Another would be my fellow photographers and getting a great deal of inspiration from them.
There are several things really. It is the whole creative process at it's core for me and I am addicting to being able to create, I always have been. It's a journey for me and when combined with the actual experience itself, being able to witness things that many never will, I count my blessings knowing I am lucky and I am very thankful for that.
I also love being able to present something to the viewer, that sense of an emotional tie that can whisk someone away but for a moment and say "hey there is still beauty in this world!". It's the inner push inside me that I want to be the best as I can be as a photographer. The list is quite long...
Accomplished in a sense but haven't accomplished enough yet and I am not sure I ever will. My goals when they are met as a photographer get replaced and I then set other goals. As far as learning, we never stop learning. In 10 years from now things will more than likely be very different than they are today. If we look back 10 years ago, there was no Lightroom, there was no mirrorless cameras, there was no massive amount of education available as there is today online. It existed but not anything like it does now. With one simply click we can educate ourselves on how to shoot star trails or how to market ourselves. It is a continual process of education from lighting to exposure. i am comfortable as a photographer but not comfortable enough by any means.
5. You're quite well known around DeviantArt and around the web. Has this positively or negatively affected you in terms of your art? If you did not get the amount of feedback that you do, especially on an art website like DeviantArt, is it possible that you would lose interest in photography?
It has certainly affected me in a positive manner in terms of my photography. It has allowed my work to be seen more often which in turn has lead to some doors opening (again, marketing) As far as feedback is concerned, this is something which I feel has drastically changed with me rather recently. I would, as in previous years, say that I would never stop being a photographer and I still believe that. I need to create and I love what I do. now as far as feedback on sites like DA, no. Absolutely 100% not. It is not essential and honestly, I see a lot of people basing how good an image is by the amount of views/comments/favs it has. This is completely superficial and holds no weight in the real world. It only says you have a lot of followers on a social media website and that is all. One look at what is popular on the front page clearly shows that in full effect. It shouldn't be about needing affirmation from others. It should be about YOU and your personal journey as a photographer. Recently, photographer Eric Kim penned a heck of a photo blog entry about all this and it probably one of the best things I have ever read."How Many “Favorites” Or “Likes” Are Enough? erickimphotography.com/blog/20… It is something everyone should take a few moments to read and I mean R-E-A-D.
6. What advice would you give to other aspiring photographers who may be feeling discouraged by a lack of feedback for their own work?
Don't worry about it because really it is nothing. Don't put any value in something that says "nice shot" as it doesn't help you improve. Neither does receiving a favorite on something. Don't sweat it, it isn't about affirmation as I said but rather your own journey. This is supposed to be fun, right? Put yourself in a time capsule back to 1995 when sites like DA and others didn't even exist. How would you operate then? Probably more than likely join a local camera club or perhaps do it on your own. We rely far to much on what others think when it comes to our photography when we should be concentrating on how to better ourselves with making a photo and having as fun as we can. Honestly I will probably get some heat for this but I will be frank, DA is probably one of the worst sites to actually learn to improve. It's just the way that it is. If you want to get actual feedback on your images, join a site like naturePhotographers.net, naturescapes.net, fredmiranda.com and photosig.com These are all sites which can help you. Another good one is digital-photography-school.com In fact it is probably one of the absolute best.
7. How important do you feel it is to do art for yourself outside of doing it professionally?
I don't feel it is that important for me. It is one on the same for me, I love what I do no questions about it and I have turned that love and passion into a career. For me it is all the same, if that makes sense? I do however do other kinds of art for myself that nobody really sees, I still draw, I still paint, I do it because I enjoy it, just like photography.
The thing is, if you throw yourself into learning and becoming better at your art, if it’s that important to you, then it will reflect in your art. You’ll become better, you’ll progress. That’s how you get to a point where you become proficient, and perhaps then is when you’ll find people are constantly rooting for you – but doing it for that side effect is a route that can leave you feeling discouraged and uninspired.
What About Negative Feedback?
There are always going to be people who have bad things to say about your art. There are always going to be people who just plain do not like your art. Some of these people are going to say this to you, regardless of whether or not you want to hear it.
It’s important, as artists, to learn when to listen and when to leave. Especially on the internet, where people aren't afraid to be blunt and in some cases are saying things just to see a rise out of you. It’s practically inevitable that you will run into these people. Most of us have seen artists who rip into both honest people trying to give feedback and into those who aren't. It’s unfortunate, because when artists do this, they either lose out on an opportunity to perhaps learn something to do better, or make themselves look silly.
Some artists don’t want any critiques, and that’s okay. Whatever they want to do, that’s their choice. But it’s unfair for artists who are looking to improve to assume that anyone who comments about anything negative in regards to a piece of art is being mean for the sake of being mean, and ripping a strip off of anyone who does causes a side effect that deviants are talking about not wanting to give out critiques, because they go so unappreciated.
Here’s the thing: there is nothing to be ashamed of about in regards to how good you are at creating art. If you’re an artist who’s just starting, learning, and improving, there’s no need to be so defensive that you snap at anyone who suggests anything to you (and there are a lot of deviants who are doing this). Be proud, and be confident, and take suggestions in stride. If someone says they dislike something you've made, ask why. Get details. If improving and becoming great at what you do is a goal in the long run, then this is a no brainer! And if you do run into another deviant who’s being mean for the sake of being mean, just leave it alone. They aren't worth your time. You’re too busy talking to people who are trying to help you improve anyway. The great thing about the internet is that you can talk to anyone, but no one is forcing you to.
So How Can I Get Constructive Criticism, General Feedback, and Followers?
It’s so important to be an active, participating member in a community if you want the community to give back to you. I like to think that you should give out at least thrice as much as what you’d like to receive, and there’s multiple ways of doing this.
1. Being active in groups . This means submitting art to groups, participating in group contests, discussions, events, etc.
2. Being active in forums. Talk to other people in the community.
3. Comment on other art. Help other people out. Help others improve. (Good side effect of this? Seeing other art, getting inspiration, and discussing how to improve art, even if it isn't yours, can help YOU as an artist as well).
4. Participate in events happening in the community. Maybe run your own events. Maybe feature other art. Maybe make tutorials.5. The most important thing you can do – KEEP DOING ART. Be confident and take no offense to people who may not like your art. Find out what you can do to improve yourself, and focus on your love for art. Keep doing it simply because you love it, and for all the reasons we as artists do art in the first place. </p>