Pimpin’ aint easy
If you ever try to do something creative like make music, paint, write, or whatever? There may come a time where you think, “Hey maybe I got something here. I might be able to make a real go of this.” And you look around at all the people trying to make it with their art and most of em seem kinda fucking miserable about the whole deal. Do you really want to become an insane desperate asshole? For something you hopefully enjoyed doing at one point? Seems like a double bummer. Or maybe you could make a living doing your art and you could write a bunch of shitty boring articles or play six 45 minute sets at some tourist trap and turn the art you love into a cheap whore, doing pirouettes in the bathroom for five bucks a spin.
I went about ten feet down this road and I didn’t like it. I enjoy playing with words and drawings and ideas. It excites me and gives me enjoyment. When I make something I’m pleased with (and I’m easily pleased) I feel a sense of accomplishment. Of course I feel the same way about eating waffles or ice cream or ice cold beer. I’m easy like Sunday morning baby, so why turn it into a 9 to 5? I gots the happiness. Aint that the whole shooting match? Letting the creative process run wonderfully roughshod?
That’s what art is for me. Doing what turns you on and not chaining it to some kinda grindstone.
Stop trying to make your art get a shitty job
Let that crazy bitch wander worryless and free
Easy like forever after.
I believe - experientially - that many photographers have begun to think of photography as a “career” in a way that I have to wonder might be influencing - maybe even jeopardizing - the creation of much contemporary photography. Just how our vision is affected by taking part in the new photography market is being played out. I fear for photographers when I feel that they spend just as much time maintaining a social media presence as on thinking through projects and visual ideas. It concerns me that there are mediocre photographers on the radar simply because of their marketing, connections, and because they go to every review out there.
[Doug Lowell:] This quote of Tom Griggs by Jörg Colberg is quite timely.
I was fortunate to have tea with Mark Steinmetz when he was in Portland several weeks ago. I told him that a comment he had made last August during our Hartford Art School thesis defense sessions had moved me to read William Blake. His comment had been, “Maybe that’s the problem with photography today. No one is willing to be a prophet.”
This made me think of Blake, and drove me to finally read his much more challenging prophetic and longer poems. It turns out that Blake has become the underlining literature informing my own current project. So, anyway, I thanked Mark for his comment.
“Yes,” he said, “we have to decide, don’t we—are we in this to be prophets, or to be in galleries?”
Well said, Mr. Steinmetz. This might be the single most important question facing photography today. There is a deep confusion between career and photography. And so I reblog this reblog from Jörg on the very same issue. Blogs and social networking can be a way of conversing together and thinking out loud. Or it can all just be promotion.
[JMC:] And a re-blog of a re-blog of a re-blog… In Germany, I am reminded of the German proverb “Der Prophet gilts nichts im eigenen Land.” You can look up what that means in English and then come to your conclusions about what this means for/in photoland.
Garry Winogrand, Utah, 1964
Mark Steinmetz opened his talk at California College of the Arts (sponsored by Pier 24, part of the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program) with the above Winogrand photo. He said he had discovered it in his high school library; he didn’t learn the photographer’s name, but something about it seemed different from other photographs in magazines. Later, Steinmetz dropped out of the Yale MFA program and went to Los Angeles, because that’s where Winogrand was known to reside. Before Twitter or cell phones, Steinmetz managed to track him down. He spent time shooting with Winogrand during the last year of his life. And a few early works of his own in the slide deck were clearly Winogrand-inspired. I’m very familiar with Steinmetz’s work, read his interviews, yet I wasn’t aware of this direct Winogrand connection.
Mark Steinmetz, from Greater Atlanta
Where I Was At (Mark Steinmetz at APAD)
I never know what I’m doing until I’m many years into a project. I always follow the pictures. The pictures tell me what I’m doing.
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