The eternal conflict of the creative
My favorite quote reads “an artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” Thats a quote by by Charles Horton Cooley. I love that quote because it is how I generally live my life, but the question must be asked, is it true? Am I an artist if I design for a living, and by what means do I measure that success? Is there a difference between the two? Am I an artist or a designer? I’ve been asked this before and had a quick generic answer for it but when I decided to completely ponder an answer it drove me to this.
I am an artist that designs. A designer needs external inspiration to reach a creative goal, an artists inspiration flows from within. While a designer can with time master a number of design tools like Photoshop or Illustrator, or even develop an eye for composition and layout, the source of that skill is learned or acquired. A designer can create a masterpiece without using an original thought. As an artist I believe that creative manifestation comes from an unknown source. When I complete a piece my core goal is for the audience to ask the single question all non creative people ask. How did you come up with that? The answer is always the same for me. I answer “I don’t know. I just did.” When I give that answer I hope the person who asked does not take my reply as a joke or an arrogant send off. As if I am keeping it a secret for only me to know. I honestly have no clue where my ideas come from but to be honest they come from everything. I believe that is the difference between the two. While a designer will see something interesting and try to duplicate that, an artist will try to duplicate the thought or emotion driven by the subject matter in their own unique way.
So how do I measure success? Do I measure it in dollars and cents or do I measure it in accolades and recognition? I guess its both. As a designer I know that my skill is a commodity and has a price, but as an artist I am not as concerned about those things. My success as an artist is more measured by my personal goals to be better. Not better to anyone but myself. I dont create art because I can, but because its just what I do. I create art for myself, while at the same time I design for money. I am able to use my GOD given passion to create designs that get me paid. I say passion rather than talent because every one can draw. Everyone put drawings on the fridge when they were five. I and other who call themselves artist kept doing it. I have been blessed with the passion.
That mindset alone creates conflict between the two worlds. Do I push for the coin or for the passion? At times I find myself holding back while designing because I feel myself falling in love with my piece. As a commercial designer the goal is to make the client happy, and with that compromise is inevitable. You give the client what they ask for. Right? Yes, if your only a designer. If your an artist who designs you must find a middle ground, I only give my clients options I am willing to change, but all options are of me. When a client comes to me with a project ideally they want the type of vision that ‘I’ create. This unwillingness to compromise can be a problem for many artist / designers. Thats why all artist must become great sales people and wonderful marketing minds. You must be able to express yourself verbally and lead your clients to feel the same way you do about your work. This takes time to develop but once you are established as a creative entity it becomes easier. The next step is to become a marketing genius. Put your art on front street and you have a better chance of attracting clients that want your vision not just somebody to visualize their own. This is the route to a balance between being an artist and a designer. Once this is realized your living the dream baby.
You figure it out ….Chilli