Becoming an Artist #001
For all of my career as a photographer, the title of ‘artist’ has been bestowed on me. I was never comfortable with it. Simply put I was never, in my eyes, an artist.
Then what was I? I was a technician. A very very highly skilled technician. Give me a brief, explain what you wanted, and I’d return it to you with all the ingredients. Only better. I’m a great technician! One of the best. But, the thing is, I never wanted to be a technician. I wanted, to be an artist.
To me an artist didn’t have people show him someone else’s work and say, “Can you make it look like that?” An artist didn’t create images with someone else’s work pinned to a wall so he could be more accurate while he plagiarised it.
After years of searching for client’s who could reflect my values and my desire to ‘make’ something...new. I’ve stopped trying :) No other person can share the same ideas that are in my head. Not because they are less talented or skilled, just because they are a different person, with a different head filled with different motivations.
And i need to say, I don’t blame commerce for my creative frustrations. I simply realise that if I want to speak with my own voice, I have to stop trying to find someone to pay me to do it : ) I simply need to start speaking, or, more accurately, start truly ‘creating’ images the way I want to create them. Images made simply for their own sake. Images brought into existence in an effort to help me communicate what I feel, with...well, you! :)
So, here we both are! Me, a photographer starting very much from the beginning again, and you, a viewer...of art? Is that why you are here reading this? Are you a collector intrigued by my motivations? The origins of my work? Perhaps you’re a photographer! Wondering how ‘this guy’ rolls. Perhaps you’re an artist thinking “How do other folks blog!? What do they write about???” :)
Well I’m not sure who you are dear reader. But for once, I know who I am. And I know why I’m here, right now.
I am an artist.
Now I could end this first instalment of my ‘Becoming an Artist” story right there. It’s punchy, it fits neatly onto the screen of my iPad as I sit here in my garden on this reluctant English summer day. Job done! Blog post written, nice LOUIS VUITTON pic to add credibility. Peach.
But the truth about my “I am an artist” statement is that I have absolutely no idea how to do it. What does an artist do? How should I be?...how on earth will I...survive? These are the thoughts that fill my head whenever I utter my bold “I am...” statement :) I mean how should I be!? Enigmatic? Chatty? Should I live broadcast every late night retouching session from my dining room table or conceal myself mysteriously behind cryptic captions: “DISSOLVE. Frankfurt.” ?
How do I print?? I mean seriously that’s how much I DO NOT KNOW about being and art photographer. The last week of my life has been spent working out how to set the paper size on my printer. Myself and my producer Lily took a little while to realise that the first few tangible real world manifestations (prints!?) of the work of JOHN WRIGHT: ARTIST had been brought into the world printed on the wrong side of the paper! (True story).
So yeah, I really have no idea how to do this and I have absolutely NO idea what’s going to happen in the weeks, months and years ahead.
And THAT uncertainty, is magnificent :)
Ending what was my career, and beginning anew, with absolutely no idea how to do what I’m doing, and no blueprint to follow, is liberating. Yes the uncertainty goes against all those conventions of security and safety and being in control blah but oh my gosh it is so exciting! :) How will I pay the bills? I. HAVE. ABSOLUTELY. NO. IDEA. :)
In closing this first chapter, I’d like to share with you the realisation that made me embrace the uncertainty of what I’m doing. You see I’ve often thought of what it means to be free. Freedom: something we believe is a fundamental human right. What does it mean? To be free. As I pondered I realised that ‘uncertainty’ is freedom. To know, is to be imprisoned. To have before you a predetermined list of responsibilities and outcomes built around a predictable progression, these are the chains of certainty. Freedom, is NOT knowing what lies ahead. Slavery, is being told what will lie ahead on your behalf, and Power, is having the ability to choose.
For me, I don’t know what lies ahead. I choose uncertainty. And that uncertainty, ultimately makes me smile :)
what will happen? Stay tooned :)