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Artist v. Artisan

 
 
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:10 am
ARTIST: One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.

ARTISAN: A skilled manual worker; a craftsperson.

As a photographer for hire I have always considered myself more craftsman than artist since I often have to put my own likes and ideas on a back burner because it is what the client wants that matters.

Because I have to pay my bills and keep food on the table and because I really like my job, I have always tried to keep my prices reasonable - people have a lot of choices when deciding who to hire and I want them to hire me.

Not long ago I decided I wanted to hire a graffiti artist to come in and paint a wall in my studio. Having no idea of where to hire a graffiti artist I did the only thing I could think of - I went into a building with graffiti that I admired and asked who had done the work. I was introduced to the artist and we chatted about my idea a bit. When I found out he was represented by a local gallery I thought "there is no way I'll be able to afford this guy".

So I kept looking around. Someone recommended a friend that was a struggling artist working at a help line desk for a computer company to pay his bills. I looked through his sketch book, talked to him a bit, he seemed eager to do the work. We talked about me buying his tools and supplies and working the rest of the payment in trade off for some photos.

As we neared the start date, he decided that his work was worth more than that and quoted me an outrageous price.

Ummm. Thanks but no thanks.

Thinking that if I was going to pay such a price I might as well go to the gallery guy. After all, I'd seen a lot of his work - as big as a building, no less. I'd only seen the other guys work on sketchbook size paper.

He quoted me a great price! He pointed out that he often didn't get the chance to paint big since graffiti is essentially illegal.

We're still working out the final details.

But this exchange really made me wonder about the difference between the artist and the artisan and thinking that maybe I've had it wrong all along..... maybe I've had it backwards as to which is which.

What do you think?
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Noddy24
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 12:20 pm
Last week a friend and I approached the art/artisan quandary from another. She hates houseword and bought a top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner with magnificent suction. Unfortunately the vacuum cleaner is poorly designed. The attachment rack doesn't hold the attachments securely. The cleaner itself is poorly balanced and teeters when using some of the attachments. The loop for holding the cord is unreliable.

When I was young and snobbish I drew a firm line between "art" and "craft". In my old age I'm inclined to think that even a vacuum cleaner should have a functional beauty.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 04:57 pm
Product design is indeed one of those things where when art and craft meet the results can be wonderous!

I've been in the market for a high quality but small digital camera. It seems like the race is on to see who can make them the smallest and those teeny tiny things are just so uncomfortable in my hands. I want it to be small enough to not be intrusive but not so small that I need a microscope to work the controls.

Honestly, I cannot figure out who they are making those things for.

Shoes have really turned into sculpture, I think. I'm amazed by those dainty delicate little shoes. Surely they aren't made for wearing; they're all form and no function.

Perhaps some people are all form and no function too....
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Noddy24
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 06:41 pm
Did you know some women are having surgery to remove some of the bones in their feet so they can wear those dainty, delicate little shoes without straining the leather?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 07:17 pm
You've got to be kidding!

Oh no. Nonononono.

A while back I read a really interesting history of footbinding. Women were crazy for it! In typical female fashion they competed for the smallest feet.

When I hear people rant about footbinding and it's cruelty I know who is to blame.

We obviously haven't progressed much, have we?

I admit - I'm terrible about shoes. I had to go shoe shopping not long ago and I just dreaded it. I just duck my head and say "black shoes, comfortable black shoes".

I swear I don't even care what they cost. I just hand over my credit card.

Us on-our-feet-artisans want comfortable shoes.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 07:54 pm
I was in my late 30's when the Family Curse struck and my spontaneous fractures started. By and large I was just as happy to eschew spike heels for ever and ever. I wear sensible walking shoes on all occasions--with lifts in the left shoe because the left leg healed short.

My grandmother, my aunt, my sister and I were all losers in that particular round of the genetic lottery and I can be fairly philosophical about the physical limitations foisted upon me by contrary chromosomes.

All the same, I regret a pair of slightly frivolous sandals--inch and a half square heel and a system of attractive straps.

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.
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fishin
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 08:04 pm
Hmmm.. I'd never really thought of a photographer being in the realm of an artisian but I suppose it's possible.

To me the difference was always whether or not the work could be relatively easily reproduced. The artisian produces a work and then creates a thousand more just like it. The artist creates a one-of-a-kind piece.

I suppose a photographer could recreate a static image (the apple on the table for example) and take numerous pictures over a period of time that are all pretty much identical. I guess I always just thought of a photographer as someone that captures a specific image in time. A picture of the same tree from the same angle over time would always be different. The tree grows, drops it's leaves, grows new ones. The sky changes, etc...

I guess the photographer could be either though. Interesting question.
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 08:18 pm
boomer, anyone who takes pride in his work is an artist and an artisan. When I look at my gate legged table, I see the grain and the tender care that went into making that beautiful piece of furniture.

When I look at your pictures of Mo, I realize that they are as gentle as canvas.

There is simply no way to separate the two, boomer.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 08:24 pm
"gentle as canvas" -- lovely phrase
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Letty
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 08:37 pm
Thanks, soz. Now this beleaguered lady is off to the land of counterpane.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:00 pm
Vanity and shoes do not mix, Noddy. At least for me. Maybe it is from spending carefree days barefoot then being crammed into shoes for the school year.

Typically, I wait until Converse sneakers are on sale at G.I. Joe's and I'll buy 10 pair to rotate into my wardrobe. Straight out of the box "fancy go to meeting shoes" eventually become knock about which eventually become gardening shoes.

Sadly, my aging feet now need a bit more support on long days than Converse can provide. Once a year I suck it up and head out to the shoe store for "black shoes, comfortable black shoes".

I'm coming back to your, fishin'.

Thank you for that, Letty. That is a beautiful turn of phrase and one I will carry with me.

I agree with you that people who take pride in their work and do it well elevate it to a different level. It can indeed become artful!
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:03 pm
The toe surgery is done to prettify toe cleavage.

And yeah, it happens.

Sigh.
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Odd Socks
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:14 pm
usually only power and ability to self promote.

There are some instances when the artist is attempting to redefine their field and express themselves, but it's usually got to do more with their ability as a spin doctor.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:21 pm
fishin', I typically liken photograpy to mansonry or carpentry. Most of the time, we don't create the idea but we use our skill to realize the objective. All three jobs require an editing - what to keep and what to get rid of to make the idea work.

I consider all of the, photography, mansonry, carpentry and the like, "trades", and I consider good tradespeople artisans. I am, myself, perfectly content to be a craftsman and do not aspire to be an artist.

Many photographers are craftsman, some are artists, a lot are hacks. Worse than hacks are the gear heads; those that think the only thing it takes to be a photographer is having the right equipment.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 09:28 pm
Hi Odd Socks. I'm a huge believer in self promotion but more from a marketing standpoint than anything else!

Speaking of shoes.... on the "What book has influenced your life" I wrote that my life was patterned after "Harriet The Spy". Squinney found an illustration of Harriet and posted it on the thread. I'll be damned if her shoes didn't look like Converse!

TOE CLEAVAGE!?

I'm freaking lucky if I can find my hairbrush and there are actually people having surgery for toe cleavage?

I'll never win a beauty contest but at least I am not completely insane.
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