Who am I?

Sculptor?
Painter?
3d Computer Graphics guy?
CAD jockey?
Illustrator?
D-d-d-designer?

I’ve been bouncing around, swapping hats rapid-fire. I’ve posted here before regarding this exact issue, but feel like the time has come to settle down and focus. Firstly, I will always be a sculptor. 23 years of effort, frustration, success, and failure is not something I’m willing to turn my back on. I’ve refined my process and settled into a groove that allows me to put together designs for Public Art projects which are unique and interesting – plus, the CAD aspect minimizes material waste and maximizes my ability to leverage outsourced fabricators, freeing myself somewhat from the physical wear and tear of the craft. That said, my ability to keep the bills paid AND stay fully engaged on a creative level requires that I not place all my artistic eggs in one basket.

So, is painting the right direction? Looking back at my posts here, I can definitely see the light of real passion shining through when I talk about the process and struggle of oil painting. The physicality, the spontaneity, the sheer joy of color is brightly illuminated – both in those posts and in my minds eye. There is a downside, though. That very process is inherently wasteful, producing scads of studies that have no market value and influencing the market for the production of toxic chemicals and solvents that I’d rather not tacitly or directly participate in. Another aspect is a limitation of my own naivete of the medium: I don’t feel I’m capable of producing work that qualifies as “modern” or “contemporary”, which is something I value. It may be simply that I haven’t put in enough time at the easel to have developed the sophisticated “voice” that I feel I have as a sculptor. So it boils down to needing to invest the time AND waste the materials to become a REAL painter. Or I could choose another route.

I love the scope of possibility that modeling 3d objects entails, especially when the constraints of  manufacturability are removed. Plus, the skills learned there are very useful to others when it comes to prototyping products, visualizing design iterations, and crafting promotional materials. The huge downside to this that I’ve been experiencing is the FEEL of this process: it degrades into button pressing and slider fiddling, poking and prodding the software in a way that blurs the distinction of who (or what) is in charge. I feel like I become a technician rather than an artist, and I just don’t like that feeling at all.

It just dawned on me that this is the core issue – over the years, I’ve managed to split myself, analogous to the hemispheres of the brain, into two distinct entities: the Artist and the Engineer. One handles the creative side of things while the other doggedly attempts to shoehorn that creativity into a physical “product” that can be fabricated and sold. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this split, until the two forces begin to wrestle for control – at which point it’s time to decide who is in charge.

I’m choosing to be an artist. The ability to create things, hopefully beautiful things, is more important to me than mastering CAD programs and sussing out how to isolate an ambient occlusion layer. I may be splitting hairs here, but that medium which allows me the most direct route from idea to its manifestation is the one I want. I’m not willing to give up the power of Undo and all the other benefits the computer brings to the ideation process, so that aspect of the Engineer and his tools will remain, but minimized as much as possible. Stay tuned and lets see where this leads.
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