I got into graphic design because it was something I enjoyed doing in high school. I loved the impermanence of my creations regarding its ability for future edits and that while creating my masterpieces I never ran out of paint. However, many people study graphic design in college for another reason.
Many kids in high school love art: the freedom, the ability to express oneself, and most of all its fun. Naturally, these kids want to go on to study art in college. They really enjoyed painting amounts other fine arts classes in high school so, why not? This is unfortunately where reality sets in for many extremely talented budding young artists. They come to realize that being a fine artist and going to school for it is not a particularly lucrative business. This is the part when they hear about graphic design. They hear that it is a way to be an artist with a stable paycheck. So the seed is planted and they decide to study graphic design in college. I have noticed in creative fields due to their emotional attachment, a passion is necessary. If you love to paint, paint. If you love to draw, then draw. Find a way to use these talents. Right now there are so many kids in design school that really do not want to design but, they want to make money. Struggling your way through design school is not going to make you money because it is not your strong suit. If you also barely get through school with a degree in design, you are going to get looked-over by people that are seeking designers with a passion anyways. I deeply enjoy kerning a letter or creating layouts but that is me. Design is my field of passion because I honestly enjoy it. I just feel that you should follow your passion even if the road is bumpy to success because without drive it is hard to make it up the hill to the top.
If you have been in the market for a DSLR then you probably have come to realize that there are several DSLR cameras out there that can shoot video. In fact, most of the top camera manufacturers put a video function in their new camera bodies. The video function has become a prerequisite rather than an extra; but why? Are not cameras for shooting pictures and camcorders for shooting video?
Initially this was the case. However with DSLRs shooting in 1080p, they have caught the attention of many videographers out there. Now, DSLRs still have a long way before they even think about surpassing our old friend the camcorder for a few reasons. The biggest one being that most DSLRs do not have an auto focus feature while shooting video. There are some that do but the feature is far from flawless. There are usually many instances of the camera trying to cycle through its focus much like when you are trying to autofocus to shoot a picture in the dark. However, videographers have worked around this by utilizing manual focus and becoming well adept at this technique. So why would anybody want to use a DSLR if it has so many issues? Well, as you photographers out there know, DSLRs offer a little thing called depth of field. This, along with lens variety is the primary reason for using the DSLR for video. Just as in photography short depth of field offers the photographer, or in this case the videographer, the ability to have something in focus while others are out of focus or “bokeh.” This helps to point the viewer in the direction of what is important in a photograph or what to pay attention to in a video. Though the DSLR will probably not replace the video camera, it still can offer creative solutions to your work.
Alfredo Ratinoff explaining pigment characteristics to students during the last session of the workshop.
Photo by Socorro Villa
During a period of eight weeks, students in The Smithsonian Associates Studio Arts Program have been learning and applying the techniques of coil pottery, earth pigments and low-temperature kiln firing used by artists in Africa since ancient times. This was a Smithsonian Spotlight Program, pairing the expertise of Smithsonian faculty member and master ceramist Alfredo Ratinoff with a special exhibit of the “Arts of the Benue River Valley in Niger” on display at the National African Art Museum until March 4, 2012.
I was fortunate to have been invited to attend the last class of the workshop during which I witnessed students create “healing pots” from clay coils and Smithsonian curator Deborah Stokes’ very interesting and insightful presentation about the arts of the Benue River Valley and the purpose and virtues of the healing pots. In my view, the presentation and classroom exercises were a perfect combination of the curator’s academic point of view in the particulars of the healing vessels and her experiences while researching and living among the inhabitants of the region along with the student experience of practicing a technique which connected them with an artistic culture across the globe. The class also facilitated a well-rounded learning experience that involved the whole person: the mind; the sight; the touch.
Artist and Arts Writer
Guest blogger Socorro Villa studied arts since an early age. At college she studied Journalism with a minor in art, specializing in Art Criticism in Buenos Aires, Argentina. her website is www.socoart.com
Debora Stokes, Curator for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art,showing a pot she made while studying under potter Robai Nefana in Kenya, along with Alfredo Ratinoff and Marybeth Kelley, Program Manager.
Art has always had certain stigmas that go along with it. Usually these taboos surround the mystique of the artist. This idea of boundless creativity being a mysterious gift is false. Sure, natural talent helps; however, it takes a lot of hard work in order to channel that talent into the production of art. This creates a pitfall that separates artists from society at a fundamental level.
First, artists cannot be put on schedules. You cannot expect to tell a painter to paint 12 paintings in a certain amount of time and achieve positive results. This misconception of artists being whimsical and lazy is not as obtuse a concept as many make it out to be. Artists require a great deal of time to manifest ideas. The idea of true creative originality is what drives many artists to madness. Because not only are artists expected to come up with ideas but they cannot be like anything before it. Sure in the business world there are many things that one must solve in order to be successful like for example, how to make more profit in the next quarter. However, a solution can be reached by researching how other companies achieve greater revenue or one can completely model there company’s business plan off of another. Yet, artists cannot simply copy and sample. They are expected to be original! To define our cultural zeitgeist! Artists have a hard time doing this in society due to falling into the loophole of funding cuts and a lack of understanding of the artists needs time and time again. This is what resulted in the creation and the culture of the “art world.” The separation of cultures and the misinterpretation of each has resulted in pushing them further and further apart. Now society views the art world with feelings confusion and the art world shocks the masses to hopefully be heard. This issue will almost always be valid as long as these two ideologies continue to diverge.
Last week I asked for your help in compiling a list of topics you, the reader, would like me to cover in the upcoming months. I am keeping the survey open through the end of the month to give everyone the opportunity to offer suggestions on subjects, people, techniques, and anything photography-related that you would like to learn more about. The topic is wide-open - anything and everything to do with photography is welcome so don't hold back.
In the meantime, there are so many cool things to do around town right now that reading my posts shouldn't be at the top of your priorities list - hopefully there will be plenty of snow days (or at least really cold days) to stay in and do that over the coming months (fingers crossed!). For example, the National Christmas Tree display (complete with trains!! and trees representing each state, territory, and disenfranchised locality), the Capitol Christmas Tree (it's 65-feet tall, so bring the wide-angle), and the National Menorah on the Ellipse (set to start on December 20) are three local holiday lighting displays just waiting for your long exposures and creative processing. While you're out there, redirect your focus to the crowd for always interesting people-watching - and, I bet enough ugly holiday sweaters to keep you occupied for hours.
Ice skating has returned to the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden - a great opportunity to practice some of the tips I covered last year for shooting on ice and other bright, reflective surfaces.
At home, there are even more once-a-year holiday photo opportunities you won't want to miss, like lights and ornaments, tables of food, that burning turkey deep-fryer in the backyard, more ugly holiday sweaters, the Griswold's eye-searing display next door, family and friends, and that Santa hat you bought on clearance last year for your cat (you know you have one (I do!)). Pay attention to the background; rather than lining up on the sofa with a distracting painting behind their heads, have kids gather around the tree and sit on the floor. Open the aperture up as wide as it will go (F1.4. for example), for that sweet, sweet light bokeh background.
This is also my last post of 2011, as it's been a very busy year and I need a writing vacation. Please take a few minutes and let me know what you'd like me to write about in 2012 and I'll see you in January! Happy holidays!!
Originality is one of those things that can seem so mysterious in the art world. In fact striving for true organic originality is enough to make an artist go absolutely mad. It is also something that can create a lot of legal trouble for artists. However, what is original?
The word original implies the beginning, the first, the one. This creates a curious dilemma. For example, printmakers edition their prints which means, there are 12 originals but really, the first one that you ran through the press is the original or is it the first proof that went through? The situation gets sticky rather quickly. Or for example, photos of artwork off the internet. The original is in the museum and the picture is online but, if you take it off the internet and adjust, say, the contrast in Photoshop and then repost it on a personal website then you are already quite a few levels from the original. Yet, if the picture does not have the proper source noted, it then becomes illegal. The idea of originality and the debacles it creates in the art world is definitely something to be aware of.
Something that I have become aware of when it comes to reviewing exhibitions is that it is nearly impossible to take photos. In museums, unless the work is in their permanent collection it cannot be photographed. I find this to be frustrating because often times what I want to see or document are the artworks in traveling exhibitions. I mean, if I can see it anytime at the museum, then why bother with the pictures? The whole lure of a photograph is to catch a moment in time, or in this case an exhibition, before it passes. Most recently I was dealing with this issue with some of the temporary exhibits around the Mall that showcased work by Andy Warhol. I just could not help but notice the irony.
As known by many art enthusiasts out there, Andy Warhol loved the media. In fact, there is an exhibition right now at the National Gallery of Art that is all about it. Warhol also spent a great deal of his time working to break down the boundaries that we have regarding copywriting, commercializing, and originality. The idea that you cannot take pictures of his work flies in the face of Warhol’s spirit. Most of his work is manipulating photos, copying labels, and breaking down clichéd images. I understand the need to protect the rights of an artwork. However, I feel that the way the artwork is treated should speak for the artist’s intentions rather than hypocritically destroying them.