Does it make you a bad artist if you paint/photograph on demand?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by bluemary, Nov 10, 2009.

  1. bluemary

    bluemary TPF Noob!

    Jun 4, 2008
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    Are you a bad artist if you take money from someone (mostly political)- because then, you lack communication skills that every artist needs (because it's not you who does what you're doing but it's someone elses idea which makes you a means to an end)?

    It's the topic of a college essay that is due soon and I'm not lazy and looking for arguments but I really don't know what to do with it.
    I mean, I'm definitely more the 'artistic-type' and not somebody, who plays out ideas (NO judgement intended!) but if you take famous paintings like the Mona Lisa or Michelangelos work in the Sistine Chapel...those were paid for.
    But on the other hand, if you just play out the ideas that an art director gives you or any 'paymaster' it's not your own work and lacks of communication that you should have with the audience.

    what do you think?

  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

    May 27, 2009
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    I actually had this happen to me once... I was walking into work, camera in hand like usual and out of the blue this guy comes riding up on a bike, the rest went something like this:

    Guy: Hey, what are you doing? Taking pictures? What are you taking pictures of?

    Me: Just taking pictures of whatever... I'm on my way into work.

    Guy: Are you a photographer?

    Me: ...

    Guy: You should take a picture of those clouds, see how it looks like an elephant!? That would be a great picture. Take a picture of those clouds right there, right there, you see?

    Me: Yeah, sure does... I have to get to work now.

    I guess my point is that I didn't take the picture... I had no interest in a picture of clouds that looked like an elephant.

    That said, had it been something I was interested in, sure... I'd take the photo, because regardless of being pointed in the general direction of something - it's still up to the photographer to capture it in a different way, or a way that the photographer wants it composed.
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 1, 2008
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    Take two people - one an actor and one a simple joe average with not acting skill at all and give them both the same prewritten script. Neither can choose the communication they both have to work from the same exact script, say the very same words and perform the very same way.
    The actor (he can be a paid professional or a very good amateur) will communicate that script far far better to the audience than the person with no acting experience (ignoring the chance of hidden brilliance here of course ;)). Even if they get given more direct stance and delivery instructions there is still that key skill in communication that the director is after and paying for in the actor.

    So whilst ones artistic creativity might be limited to a certain area and probably constrained to producing a certain kind of output and look to the work a professinal still has to have that skill in communicating through their art - that is what they are being paid for.
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental We're supposed to post photos?

    Nov 8, 2004
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    It all depends upon which type of Art you are talking about: Fine Art or Commercial Art.

    In the former you have patrons who buy your work. You retain your artistic freedom and integrity.
    If someone commissions you to do a painting/sculpture then you still retain your artistic freedom and integrity. This is understood by the person who commissions you (or should be) although they retain the right to not like what you produce - though they still have to pay you for it.

    With Commercial Art (Graphic Design, Illustration, etc) the client - who pays you - sets the brief and you have to work to it. If you don't they won't pay you or use you again. But you still have to be creative and skilled to do it well.

    There is nothing wrong with either type of Art and there certainly is nothing wrong with taking money for doing it.
    Where the problem lies is with our modern obsession with wanting to be thought of as a 'creative artist' (even if only doing hack work)*. It is only since the late 20th C. that this attitude has become prevalent and it is curious that the term 'Commercial Art' fell into disuse at around the same time. ;)

    *Just look around this forum. You'll find loads of people claiming to be 'artists' whilst their work says 'picture taker'.

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