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Creative Expression in Photography

Lesson 2 of 10

Defining Art and Artist

Joel Grimes

Creative Expression in Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

2. Defining Art and Artist

Lesson Info

Defining Art and Artist

How do we define art and what constitutes an artist? Okay, so that was sort of that first question how going to fine art now when I was in school um we had to do a lot of projects and we had different classes and somewhere more of a philosophy class, right studying artists and how they thought, you know, breaking down images and all that stuff and I would go to exhibits and I have the right papers and so I was pretty involved in that whole trying to define art and what was what was an artist. Now I'm sure you've heard this from people I've heard people that went off to seminary and to study, you know, how they work, you know, came upon this earth and then when they got out of seminary they were more confusing when they got in right and so same thing with me. But when I graduated from art school, I think I was more confused about what an artist was then when I went in, you know, that sometimes happens because our brain starts to get filled a lot of stuff and there's a lot of questions, ...

more questions r and r are asked now than answered, so I also say this in an academic environment I never was a very good student, so you know, if I got a c average, I was like you you know and and so I remember when I started out he said I'm not brilliant I'm not a creative genius. So how am I joel grimes who's not brilliant creative genius try to define art I'm going to find art for you here that's a big task right? Is it possible? I don't know we'll see so let's see, I'm gonna try to give you my definition of what art is and what an artist is and hopefully you will either agree or disagree there's okay doesn't matter art is simply that manifestation of self expression you have an opportunity to take a piece of you take a tool stone with a chisel paintbrush with paint and canvas a guitar and writing words and singing something that manifests you on idea through a certain medium an expression you express yourself through something so it's a joy to have that boom have an idea all right, so that's the first part throughout history mankind has tried to define art by the final product but this is impossible because it's it's subjective process so we look at a painting. So have you ever gone to an exhibit? Someone says hey there's an exhibit there's this artist it's opening night this guy or gals like the next greatest thing so you go in and you're like, wow, you know I don't really get it and you see the price tag you know, forty grand I wouldn't put that on the bottom my bird cage I mean you don't get it you ever been there all the time someone's all excited about that they've got a gallery showing people buying those things that you know it's fascinating put him on the wall and you don't get it right and so if someone comes to you and says is that person on artist you go not really because we evaluate by the final product and so there's a danger in that the danger is that if I take a pole I could get maybe a small percentage of said they liked it may be a large percentage that say they don't like it and I could say I'm a failure I'm not an artist because nobody likes my work and so we put the weight of validating who we are based on someone else's opinion that's a danger especially if you listen to critics so let's say you put everything into an art show your life's work and the the critic walks in and says I don't get it writes a big thing up in the next day's paper and says this guy you're girls a failure or or their work sucks and so then you say I'm done I'm done as an artist I failed so we often define art by the final product and so um that's an impossibility I don't think you can so if an artist could be defined by the final product or how well that product is received, then someone's opinion could exclude you from being an artiste and that's the world we live in it's hard to get around that because there's always critics and you put everything into some and like said maybe you get a bad review and so there's a lot of power in that and let's see if we go on if you have a passion is my definition if you have a passion to create by definition you're an artist let me repeat that one more time if you have a passion to create by definition you're an artist you say I've never had a showing still an artist I've never sold a print still an artist I've never had rave reviews still an artist no one's ever hired me to do an ad campaign or do a portrait former wedding you'd still be an artist because you have a passion to create. So what does that give you confidence to continue on? If you define yourself by what other people think of you and the opinions you can come undone like that you give up your hole passion and dream of being an artist are uh you know a photographer that creates images like that one person's opinion remember I talked about, um yesterday and marketing my first portfolio showing was a disaster and I wanted to quit and what my friend steve say don't let one person still your dream how many of us have had one person steal our dream most of us and here's the interesting thing I didn't say this yesterday but you know my parents love me never ever doubted that even when I got discipline I was a laundry kid and I got disciplined I still believe my parents loved me and I have no reservations is saying that I had a great childhood growing up but when it came to be an artist my parents to understand what I did and as I chased my dream as a photographer my dad would tell me son get a real job forget this dream of being a photographer you could never make a living at it come on, just come down to earth son quit living in the clouds get a real job he said that and well into my thirties do you love me? Yes did you discourage me? Could have so we get in get discouraged by someone who loves us now why did he say that he wanted to protect me? I was living in a warehouse sleeping on a phone matt eating cream cream uh wheat and and uh macaroni cheese oh on occasion I had a little frank hot dogs when things were good life was tough trying to be an artist might I want to protect me? But I said, no, I'm going for it, but that's, what I'm saying, even someone we love, our spouses are best friends or parents, or someone could discourage us don't let one person still your dream and, uh, if you have a passion to create your own artist so here's what I'm gonna say, everyone in this room and everyone listening by definition if you have a passion to create your own artist so that means everyone on this planet in some way or form could be an artist. What a wonderful thing. But you know what? The art community doesn't like that. Why is that? Oh, we have to be here to be educated. You have to have had five opening your gallery showings before we put you on our list of being an artist. You have to have sold, you know, I mean, that's, the world we live in. Okay, but let's, break it down for a simple thing, if you have a passion to create, you're an artist. And art is not defined by the final product. You get that. I think it actually is a cool place to be mag okay, you know what, I'm gonna slap some paint on a cracked campus today. And your wife my wife says you suck you know that I don't care I'm an artist keep going keep trying keep doing it and then one day I'm you know become a rock star I don't know what happens even when we look at history some of the artists that we really today revere never really had success in their lifetime I mean, when I was in college it was a kind of a joke is you had to be forty or dead forty or older or dead to get noticed, you know? And I'm thirty nine no, I'm just kidding lot older and that but the point is is is that we unfortunately had defined ourselves by what society says and we can so easily be discouraged uh and chasing our passions and our dreams so do you believe you have a passion to create you're an artist? You're an artist? What a fun thing! So I believe everyone has built into their very dna a desire to create its in you can't get it out that's why you have so much fun taking pictures that's what you get up at five in the morning go out and catch the sunrise or whatever it iss you can't wait to capture something put your spent on it hanging on the wall or sitting on the net and go what do you think? Because you're an artist you have passion to create I was speaking at an event and I gave this talk and then the weak layer I got an email from a guy who said that he attended my session and he went home and he, uh, open the front door, swung open, stepped in, dropped his bags and said at the top of his lungs, I'm an artist and his wife, like, comes run around the corner, what I'm an artist, which is what got into you, and he said, well, joel grimes, explain it, I believe now I'm an artist, and she said, just what? I knew you min, if you're an artist all along, he didn't believe it, but she did she knew it, so sometimes we don't really want to believe it. We don't want to just like own it, so I want you to think about it you own the fact that you're an artist it's built into your dna it's something that is a gift has been given to you and so that's the beauty of it, you can't get away from it, you're an artist and photography all these tools we have today, we're the greatest age of photography since its introduction or whatever I mean, we're in a great times digital has made an explosion in the opportunities of tools and things that we can use to create and of course the web we can watch people what they're doing they're uh they're with what they're putting producing in the old days when we had with magazines and bookstores books or book libraries whatever maybe gallery showings the stuff um when I did a book on the navajo indians back in nineteen ninety um I got I got some press and you know there's newspaper articles about what I did and I had a show with them uh smithsonian american history museum so I got a lot of attention there but if you add up all the attention I got in the old days probably wouldn't count for one or two days on the net today so in a two year three year period of me exposing that project to the world today we could go like that and exceed the number of people viewing what we do that's the world we live in today unbelievable time and so we're in good times and um uh but even think about this so my dad and my mom really don't still probably to this day I don't understand what I do but we have a generation has come up today where parents are a little bit more understanding of an artistic kid you know I say I want to be an artist no you had to be a fireman that's what my dad said he was a fireman you gotta work for the city me an attorney be a doctor be a plumber something a trade but you can make a living but today we're more accepting because we've got video gaming we've got all sorts of of ways as that artistic bent and you you have opportunities to express that in the trade world and what we're doing today and so I think we're in a great age in that too we're more accepting I wanna be an artist so yeah great that's a great thing to do and so fun times we're in great times did you have a question you were yeah so you know I shoot a lot of music concerts and I just remind you you're talking about how nobody wants to be an artist and I was in the photo pit at a very large festival and the kid behind me go behind the rail and they're all reaching forward and he goes you guys man I'd love to be you andi I'm like your two feet away from me you army the beauty is in two hours I'm uploading this to the net and I get to share the fun I'm having that's right everybody that's right you know and everybody gets to experience a lot of things that they wouldn't experience otherwise because all of us are out there you know charting our lives basically with our cameras they're because of the internet and because of this mass explosion of sharing images um we have a rock star ours so to speak I say rock stars but people in the industry that have come up the ranks very quickly because of all the exposure they do really cool stuff and all sudden it goes viral so to speak and everybody wants to do what they're doing and it's a great time but it goes back to doing good stuff we're going maybe touch on that but more but we're in great times so uh let's go on is built in your dna that you're an artist um so what supersedes the final product or someone's subjective opinion so what supersedes that so you're an artist you're out creating maybe the final product isn't quite being received um but you're still working away at it, right? But the point is is what supersedes it what so as as a person that's sitting here and um you know, I want to be accepted I want people to like what I do all these things um how do I how do I look at the world around me? Well, the number one thing is is you gotto create the opportunity to let it out ok? So you've got to make that happen so you say I got this artistic side to me and I really feel like I have something to say this passion you gotta create the opportunity so you can't sit on catch ago I'm an artist I'm not going anywhere creating that opportunity is hard right because we might have a real job I say real job but a job I'm doing to pay my bills and I want to work on art on the side to build enough to where I could go full time maybe have a wife and kids at home I got that you know, maybe I got who knows there's restraints that keep us from posts pursuing our craft but we got to make the opportunity happen for example yes should I said I love football watching football american football but I gotta give it up and have time for it. I got things I got to make the opportunity for me to go to the next level by putting in lots of time hours I like doing things like skiing and hiking and backpacking and all these things but I have to be careful that I still give my craft enough time to build a body work that gets me noticed in the marketplace. So um the wait now falls back on your shoulder in a way that you've got to get out and do it there's our part because remember we talked about our human condition when we talk about the fear of rejection the few rejection keeps us from making the cold calls going out and shown her portfolio because we want to be hurt but worked as a general rule were lazy well let's put it this way let's just say that lazy because that's kind of you know your lazy butt we're we tend to take the road less traveled the easy round right that's why we all have a few pounds because getting up before work and going working out in the gym it's hard once you're there actually is not too bad right? But getting out of bed early and making that opportunity happen that's hard so making the opportunity is difficult because we're lazy that lazy hoops just to get that other we are lazy yes there's no better word and so the pressure is now that if you have a passion to create you're an artist you have a voice you want to say something you gotta go for it and make the opportunity happen and that takes discipline and here's another thing here's a thought I was thinking about this and I've got a lot of blow I right on my block might whip my uh I'm I blogged joel grams workshops dot com and I write on there every once a while but I have an idea that I was thinking about this idea that is a little kid I have four boys right and generally speaking our society teaches us to take the road less travelled because here's what happens you go to school and they say here's what's been done it has been proven, and now you just accept that right now in matthew might say mathematics that may might make more sense, but often we're not taught to explore outside of what's been done right. Don't take a risk. We just follow. We're not leaders so it's, kind of. Even as a parent, I don't want to see my kids suffer, so I say, take the easy road here, son, don't go overdoing it. I want to protect my son.

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Every photographer is an artist, but few consider their photographs works of art. In this one-day online workshop with iconic photographer Joel Grimes, you will learn how to ditch ratio-driven staid photography techniques — and how to embrace the artist within. By unlocking your true creative potential and tapping into your artistic intuition, you will radically transform the quality and range of your photography.

This one-day workshop will teach you how to identify your unique way of seeing the world. Joel will walk you through every step of the creative process, starting with the human condition, how we define art and what constitutes an artist, and why chasing the unattainable is a process crucial to your success in the industry. A photograph is not a reality; it is a representation of reality.

By the end of this workshop, you will understand how to harness the artist within, take bold risks, and make a name for your unique style.



I loved the course, i laugh because Joel and I are kind of alike in General. Hey Joel if you like Ray's music you might like A guy by the name Amos Lee, Different than Ray but great song writer.

Kelley Hurwitz Ahr

One of the things that I love about Joel is that he has a great message along with great photography! I find him to be relatable, an expert in the field and quite motivating. Highly recommend any of his classes.


That was excellent. Loved the seminar and you hit on a lot of great points when it comes to defining yourself as someone who uses photographic equipment as a tool to be creative.