WonderCon post mortem

Literally the worst best convention ever. Hyperbole aplenty at this year’s con, the one show where I feel like there’s enough action and an audience for what I do. And that, honestly can confuse people because I do a lot.

When you walk by my table, you usually get a glimpse of my sculpture. For three or so years, I have been using 3d printed sculptures to draw people to my table. This year printed out a digital model of a concept I painted digitally a year or so prior. It was a nice progresson, 2d, to 3d, to 3d print. Cool right?

The morning of the second day, as the rush of people grew, one of my fellow exhibitors knocked over the statue. Most of the tentacles snapped right off. I was mentally prepared for this to happen before the show, but I really thought I was going to knock it over and not someone else.

It was a proud moment for me – I was actually trying to finish a commission when it happened and that turned out pretty darn cool.

I actually felt the palpable panic of the people next to me, who were very apologetic and far more embarassed than I was. It felt strange, usually I’m the one who freaks out, throws a fit, leaves, or just throws in the towel. I guess the added pressure of having to finish a commission for an old friend took the pressure off more than added to it. The pressure to create after destruction, it’s rocket fuel.

But I knew I printed that object so fast and light that it was particularly fragile. I took the risk. But even with the shattered tentacles, the piece still drew quite a few people curious about the look – to some people it looked like a demonic Venus De Milo, broken but still beautiful and almost unimaginable any other way.

It sits shattered at the very highest point on my desk hutch. Like a trophy.

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Digital vs Traditional process snobs

I want to do more digital painting next year. Actually, just more painting period.
Medea_PROCESS

Since taking up 3d printing, nothing I’ve been doing in other areas of art have been resonating with enough people to make it worthwhile – BUT – that’s if you follow the numbers and the metrics. Metrics can’t be the only way to make art. These days they help.

I’ve never really followed trends unless they did one or more of a few things

  • I learned something new
  • I made extra money
  • I helped someone
  • I grew as an artist or person

There’s a difference between that first item and the last one and usually it’s just a personal emotional thing and not an achievement unlocked thing.

But I have never really painted the way I really want to paint – something is always on the edge and almost there. And it’s just been a function of time and effort.

I use Gimp – an open source app – which a lot of people give me heat about. It’s not this, it doesn’t have that, only amateurs use it blah, blah blah. I get it – I use Adobe’s stuff too. At work. But the last time I checked I used Gimp on every single Emmy nomination I have ever had, and on the two VES awards I have so chew on that for a second.

I tweeted this earlier this week:

When I say you should stop caring about digital vs. traditional it means there is no longer a distinction between the two to the audience at a basic level. Digital artists often print their stuff on textured paper to make it “painterly” – traditional artists are digitizing their works to make prints for sale and sell them online – it’s more complicated than that but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Give me a break already. There are no more Rembrandt’s being made nor should there be.

If you want to argue an original painting in time MIGHT be worth millions someday, I’ll show you a digitally designed asset I make that’s worth something RIGHT NOW. Show me a digital painting with millions of colors and infinite resolution, and I’ll show you someone who can paint on GLASS in FILM NEGATIVE COLORS. NOTHING about the tools matter any more.

What matters is that connection to the people who see it. The people who care. Bitch about popularity all you want – I’ve already heard enough college kids for DECADES (I am 44 right now) spew about this – IT DOES NOT MATTER.

It only matters if you grew, you learned, you connected or you got PAID. Pick something and run with it. I chose not to let the process dictate the goal. Ever.

Want to know something else? I’ve been a digital artist for 20 years. That’s long enough for a car, movie or song to be considered a classic. Know what that makes the first digital works of art? In a way it makes them … traditional.

That’s a stretch for some people – they’d argue it doesn’t make them traditional but commonplace. You aren’t taken very seriously unless you use this tool or that – just like the stone masons didn’t take you seriously unless you used certain tools. In case you were wondering, that’s called a creative tradition. “It’s the way things have always been done” and if you are one of those newly minted, millennial kids getting out of school, digital tools are the way thing shave been done YOUR WHOLE LIFE. It’s TRADITION.

Case closed, go paint something.

P.S. Now this all sounds very angry, but it’s book-ended by an interesting year. I spent a lot of time listening to people harp on digital artists for having no ability to use “traditional tools” again. And I also listened to others harp on the future of art and the fundamental requirement that artists adopt more digital techniques. It was ridiculous. So I spent a full two months doing almost nothing but working traditionally – even using coffee as ink at one point.

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