31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Here are a few pictures I took while visiting family after Christmas. There was an ice storm overnight, and these are the result. Fortunately, the ice was not very severe, so there was little damage. The roads stayed clear. Growing up, I've experienced these types of storms where the roads have been covered with a sheet of ice.

I hope everyone has had a blessed Christmas holiday and wish everyone a very Happy New Year and the best for 2009.

24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

This was shot on the way to work today. Not your typical Christmas image. But, it was very cold.

14 December 2008


When you create your art, who is your audience?

Is it only you? Your family? Friends? Is it for your online gallery in whatever form? Is it commissioned by a client? Is it intended for sale?

Does the audience matter? Does it affect your creative process?

I've been pondering some of these questions, and the recent OT regurgitation of old rants provides a good bridge to this topic. First, I'm going to offer a couple of comments on that post.

Recently, I've been encouraging anyone, including them, to publish your own calendar using any one of the numerous methods to get a calendar printed. So, they decided to comment on that. I'm glad they like to read here, but they don't seem to learn anything. I don't really expect them to. People on a crusade rarely learn anything that might harm their crusade.

I really liked this comment,

I guess Ken forgot that OT beat him to the punch by nearly a year. We put out our official Fractal Alternate Universe Calendar last December. We were proactive. We were creative.
Let's be clear, OT didn't create anything. They stole, by their own admission, the images from the 2004 Fractal Universe calendar and bastardized them with filters in an attempt to mock the actual calendar. They didn't print it. They didn't market it, other than by encouraging people to download the stolen images. They just used the exercise in a sarcastic attack on the Fractal Universe calendar. I'd hardly call that proactive. I certainly wouldn't call it constructive. It was anything but creative.
Or, most likely, Dr. Ken needs to heal himself.

But can he? The critic who rails against critics is still whining about us in both of his supposedly Zen-inducing, throw-your-complaining-down posts championing his self-help snake oil of calendar liberation.
I'm not in need of healing, but I do appreciate their concern. I guess it must take a professional writer to come up with such a nauseating sentence of the magnitude of that last one. My young daughters can write better than that. Perhaps OT needs some healing. Don't despair, this is the season of hope. If they leave Santa a nice plate of cookies, perhaps he will leave them a Fractal Universe calendar to help their mood this season. LOL!!

It's also clear that from a couple of comments to that post that there are others who share OT's disdain of the Fractal Universe calendar. That's perfectly fine. Everyone one is a critic and by no means all are going to like any particular image, calendar, etc.

But, there is a far more important issue in the larger scheme of things, which brings me back to the topic of audience.

Once you show your art to anyone, you are creating an audience. That could be for seeking praise, seeking critiques, seeking sales, and so on. But, you are creating an audience. Do you know your reasons for creating an audience?

The audience for the Fractal Universe calendar is the calendar publisher and their customers. They have found a formula that works for them and is profitable. They are creating a calendar for their audience. Their audience buys the calendar, and appears to be quite happy with it year after year. What is wrong with that? No one has ever given a satisfactory explanation that I've seen. There are only complaints are about how the images are solicited and chosen for it, and about the "quality" of the images chosen. Those complaints are irrelevant, but do provide for a useless argument for those who find them of some importance.

People who choose to submit images for consideration for the calendar are attempting to appeal to that audience. Is that wrong? Does that hurt fractal art in general? Are the artists who submit images for the calendar compromising themselves of their art by submitting to the calendar? Of course not. They are making a choice to appeal to that audience.

Anyone who shows their art to anyone else is creating an audience. It is only natural that artists like to receive positive feedback on their work. But, feedback from that audience may affect their creative process.

If you are seeking to sell your work, then you have two choices. Create what you want and try to sell it, or experiment to find out what sells and create work that has a better chance of selling. Neither choice is wrong. But, as an artist you have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge what you are doing.

I think one can accurately argue that if you choose the latter you are compromising yourself somewhat as an artist. But, if you are striving to make a living, then you have to appeal to your market. That may be altering what you really want to do. But, that is what any business that wants to succeed must do. There is nothing wrong with that. But, you must realize that is what you are doing.

The former may allow you to be more "pure" to your artistic vision, but you have to realize that what your vision leads you to produce may not be what your audience wants to buy. If you are really fortunate, this method will coincide with what your audience wants and your audience will grow. But, I think this is pretty rare.

Similarly, the BMFAC selected images for an audience. Again, you can participate or not. You can even complain about the process used to select images, and make up all sorts of issues with that process, some real and some invented. But, the organizers are the audience and they made the rules by which images were chosen. All the issues, real or not, have no effect on any individual as an artist. There is no harm done to any individual, or any art form in general. Any harm perceived is a figment of the individual's imagination who thinks he has been harmed.

I think the bigger issue is how any given artist allows their audience to affect their work. Do you allow critical feedback to cause you to run off and cry in the corner, as I've seen happen in various online forums when a critical comment is offered unsolicited to a newcomer?

Do you care, or does it affect you, if your images don't fit the audience for any particular contest, calendar, gallery, etc.? If you care, or if you are affected, why do you care or how are you affected?

For a much more eloquent discussion of the topic of Audience, read the Luminous-Landscape article on the topic as it relates to photography.