As mentioned, I’m reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.
Reading the book is coinciding with lots of goings on. We’re still doing the Whole30 diet. I’m concentrating on being a positive presence in my world. Maybe just my little bubble. In that vain, I’m reaching out to more people purposefully. In turn, they’re reaching out to me.
Palmer’s book feels a little long at times. Or perhaps I want to get through it faster, and I am not directly connecting with her story at this point in my trips around the sun.
But a quote hit me yesterday that I had to share:
There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to art school, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.
I’ve been mentioning lately that it took me forever to land on the Moon of Artistry, finally jab a flag its surface and declare, “I’m an artist!” Maybe I regret taking so fucking long.
But I got there. So that counts.
Sometimes I think the flag was already sunk in the dirt before I got there, I just pushed it a little further down.
Part of why I dragged my feet was because I thought artistry was unachievable. Musicians and famous painters are artists. Authors of multiple best sellers = artists. Weird people that dress funny are artists.
I create new work almost every day. I get paid to do it. It’s been that way for at least 16 years. Twenty years if you count my freelancing from the beginning.
One day I decided, “It’s time.” And I scribbled on a little blue and white “Hello, my name is:” sticker with the word, “Artist” and I peeled it off the little white part and slapped it on my chest.
I’m handing a “Hello, my name is sticker” to Tina. Time to sign it. Shit or get off …
Tina and I have worked together since we first met 18 years ago here in Chicago. I pulled her onboard with my company around 2007, and her transition to freelancing with me was scary for her.
She hasn’t been able to identify exactly how she fits into the scenario of our business. Like me, she wears many different hats. In the Adam & Eve since of the word, it angers and belittles her to think of herself as Jeremy’s Support. The Bible calls it a Help Meet. Damn, that pisses her off.
Frequently, I’m seen as “the Photographer” therefore, I’m somehow superior, if only in Tina’s mind. While it’s not a competition, it creates a hierarchy when people say, “What do you do? … Oh, so you assist.”
So you assist. Period. Not question mark.
That’s some bullshit.
In so many ways, she’s so much more talented than I am. She art directs practically every shoot we do. She also art directs my photo retouching and video editing. I don’t think she realizes how much she does that. But there’s so many times when she makes decisions on video edit or photo delivery that I would never have done personally.
If her hand is in the art, it’s hers, too. Art is, and will always be, collaborative. It’s time for Tina to recognize her role in that level of the partnership.
She’s amazing with people. That alone is an art. She manages business for our company and stuck by her guns when people tried to undercut us or attempt to negotiate lower rates.
She’s got an eye for design and fashion. She has a distinct vision. Every time I turn around, she’s studying some magazine spread, watching a documentary on fashion, or staring at interiors on the internet. While I would spent every last dime on new gear, she would spent every last dime re-desiging our home.
She’s even more amazing with me. When she see me fighting a light on set, and the client is standing near by, she’s a magician of distraction. When I break something or, just the other day, I plugged in a cord that didn’t belong in a light and it blew my flash tube, smoke bellowed out everywhere from the face of my light, she immediately goes into rescue the situation mode. I love that.
At some point, we have to say, “Damn, Tina, you’re not the support system. You own this company. You have a vision and an artistic eye. You make it what it is. Without you, we do not exist.”
I’ve been meditating on it, and I feel like between owning our company and being a creative force on it, we are blinded by a form of ignorance. There are major roles in business and art that she’s fulfilling on a daily basis.
If I had to give her a title or titles now, I would say that first we’re equal partners in our company. Second, I would call her Art Director. She manages the look and feel of almost everything we do, from style and function of a film to the look and design of a set. And thirdly, she could own the title Producer or even Executive Producer. Producers are, quite possibly, an instrumental and integral part of any photo shoot or video production. Without them, it would be absolute chaos.
She, like me, wears many hats. At one point she is wielding a camera taking photos. Then she’s shooting behind the scenes video. Then she’s consulting the client on where to put the chair, what flowers to add or remove from a scene, what books to put in or take out, etc. etc. etc. etc.
A photography and film company is not all glitz. While we do a lot of photo shoots and film production, there’s a bunch of non-creative stuff involved. Just like I couldn’t call myself an artist for so long, we are having trouble calling ourselves, say, an agency. Or something more than a photography studio. Our talents extend only as far as the fence we build around our capabilities.
I look forward to how Tina’s search for her identity unfolds, literally right before us. I feel it’s only a matter of time before she reaches