Artistic Ability - Are We Born With It OR Can One Practice and Learn It?

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, this topic kept popping into my head.  I would see it pop up from time to time on social media, so I figured I would write a post about it. I would love to know what people think on this topic as it’s been so prevalent in my mind over the past while.

Are people just born with artistic ability or is it something you can learn, practice and hone and eventually become artistic? I have asked a few people this question and most seem to be on the side that think people are born with artistic ability. Some are of the other camp as well but the majority seem to think we are born with it. Now even if we are born with it, I think you still have to work at it, hone it and perfect it.

Albeit some people are just born with an innate ability to play an instrument or paint or draw but for the most part I am of the mind it has to be worked at. Now maybe some people are born with some artistic ability in them but I really do believe you can learn how to paint or draw or take a picture if you keep at it and practice and are taught properly. Perhaps not to the skill level of Picasso or Ansel Adams, I think artists like that, of that skill level are far and few between, but I think most anyone can be taught and learn and become an artist to a certain degree.

Let’s start a conversation on this topic, I really and truly would love to know what people think!

What do YOU think?

Creative Slumps - How Can We Dig Ourselves Out?

As an artist I am always seeking ways to be and stay inspired. This can prove to be a very, very tough thing to constantly maintain. It’s very important to remain on track and not get discouraged, otherwise you will end up falling down the proverbial rabbit hole known as the creative slump or creative block.

How are we supposed to stay inspired you ask? Well for me as a photographer, I take to the internet and peruse the millions of images out there for ideas and inspiration. I will sometimes listen to music that I love, of all different genres. Music, I have come to find, can inspire a mood, thought or idea which in turn lead to creative bursts. Pinterest could be another source for inspiration. Take a look at other artist’s boards and it doesn’t have to be an artist who works in your particular medium. You can find the inspiration for creativity in many places, you just have to open your eyes and mind and pay attention to your surroundings sometimes. Your next great work of art could be staring you right in the face and you aren’t even aware of it.

Some other possible avenues to explore are just plainly talking to people. Conversation can be a great initiator for ideas. Try reading the newspaper! It may spawn an idea from current events which could turn into an idea to perhaps work on a charitable project. There are many ways to pull ourselves out of those horrible dark creative slumps, we just have to be willing to do the work to pull ourselves up and out.

I will be the first to admit, it’s not always easy to cut through all the noise, focus and come up with ideas but if you just take a moment, step back and are ABLE to see the forest for the trees, you just may be pleasantly surprised with what you can create.

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Gallery Representation - Is It Right For You?

In my short tenure as a “semi-professional” photographer I have managed to find myself gallery representation by two different galleries. Now I use this term to describe myself solely because I haven’t jumped into the “Professional” world with both feet because I still have a full time job.

These places are very different from each other in many ways. One of the two deals artwork in very specific sizes, only three to be exact. They also have the work on display by all the artists at all times. This one is introducing a brand new gallery concept to Canada. The other place has no specific size requirements for work, they also don’t display every artists work at all times and there are shows that each artist participates in throughout the year. The work for those are chose by the staff deciding which shows are fitting for the artists. It is of note that both of these galleries sought me out as a result of viewing my work on a website promoting a show I was participating in.

For almost a year I have been with one gallery and it really hasn’t been beneficial to myself or the gallery in terms of profit or exposure so I have decided it’s time to move on from there. I feel a year is a good timeline to judge and re-evaluate the situation and decide whether to continue and stay with the gallery or not. It was a great experience for me and I have learned from it. Not a total loss since I can walk away from it saying I have learned from the experience. The other gallery still has my work on display there for the last six or seven months. At least with this one, I can say my work is on display at all times.

The bottom line when all is said and done, in my opinion, gallery representation can be a great and very beneficial thing for an artist.

Right now, for me this early on in my career it’s more about the exposure, getting my name out there. I am set to partake in a big show that is geared only at photography which takes over the city for the month of May, this will be great exposure. Of course the money that comes with the sale of my work doesn’t hurt either. I would highly recommend to any artist starting out, if the opportunity presents itself and you are bold enough to go out and chase an opportunity such as this by all means, take it, you never know who could see and like your work!

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Art Critiquing - A Necessary Evil

At the seminar I attended last week Scott Kelby touched on the subject of having your work critiqued. He said that if you want honest feedback you need to have your work looked at by people other than friends and family. He mentioned there was a friend of his that was always going on about photography and his gear and how he was shooting this and that, so he figured man this guy must be pretty good. It turns out, that he was just horrible but nobody close to him, meaning his friends or family would tell him this for fear it would really hurt him. So this begs the question, if you want an honest opinion of your work, do you need to go to an outside source?

I have heard many photographers say your family and friends will never tell you the truth or give you honest feedback about your work. I would have to say and this is just my opinion but I don’t totally agree with this statement.

I don’t think this is naivety on my part, I just believe I have completely honest, upfront, no bullshit friends, family and spouse in my corner. They will tell me if they think something doesn’t look good or it’s not working for them. I am sure this isn’t the case with everyone because some people just wouldn’t want to hurt people’s feelings or crush their goals and dreams by telling them they don’t really have any raw talent or the eye to make it as an artist. How hard would it be to tell someone they should just sell their gear and try something different as a career choice?

If you think about it though, are we doing more harm than good by not being totally honest? Just because it is the craft they chose, does it mean they are absolutely good at it? I say you are giving them false hope by doing this. Be honest and open, isn’t that what friends and family are for? You can tell someone their work isn’t good enough without being mean or cruel. It’s called constructive criticism! They may not want to hear it but isn’t it better coming from friends and family? Or is it better coming from strangers?

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