What defines an artist?
Well, if you answer the question the way it’s presented, you would answer: “The product produced is what defines the artist”. There, we’re done.
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“Wait! That was lame,” you say.
The description of art is: “An occupation requiring knowledge or skill. The use of a skill and imagination in the production of things of beauty.”
An artist: “One who creates objects of beauty.”
An artisan: “A skilled manual worker.”
Beauty is described as: “Qualities that give pleasure to the senses or exalt the mind.”
I know, you’re asking, “Where the hell are you going with this? Are you pushing the fact you’re a photographer and an artist?”
Nope. I am saying I have been inspired in my career in photography by many individuals who are artists in their field.
One such individual comes to mind. The descriptions mentioned above fit him and his craft: automobile restorations. Sadly, I only got to know Richard for a very short time. The world lost him to a fatal heart attack he suffered on vacation last year.
I’d met Richard through a friend when looking for vintage cars for the two car calendars I photograph each year. Richard was retired, an active member of the Corvette Club of Iowa and he owned and operated the Corvette Hospital for 40 years. I first took photos of Richard’s red ‘53 Corvette.
Now, Richard liked to talk. And I learned more about the ‘53 Corvette that day and it’s history than most people would know studying multiple books about Vettes. It was great car info and Richard knew it all.
One Sunday morning, Richard called and said he had just finished painting a ’66 Corvette convertible and needed photos before the owner took it home. I asked if it could be done late in the afternoon before the owner arrived. Richard’s reply, “The owner is here now and wants to put it on the trailer in the next hour and head out of state.” Wow! Quickly grabbing cameras, I headed over to Richard’s property, which was large enough to shoot car photos.
The photos illustrate Richard’s detailed artistry. This ‘66 had two large black stripes on the hood and on the rear of the car. Richard had found the same silver paint he used the first time he restored the Vette and had added the black stripes. This time, he removed the black stripes and was able to use the same silver paint to match the rest of the car.
To see this car up close and not see the difference between the old and new paint, in addition to the quality, was inspiring. After taking the photos for the calendar I just stood and admired the car. Most of us have had cars repainted and we can see a difference in the color and quality from the newly painted area to the factory paint. Silver is especially tough to match.
You ask, “How does the old can of paint match when the paint on the car would be faded and the color changed?” That crossed my mind for a split second, then realized a ’66 Corvette convertible doesn’t sit outside, especially during the winter months here in the North. The only time this car would see the sun is on nice sunny clear days, so the paint fades very little.
Seeing Richard’s work and the attention to details made me reassess how I treat my craft. Am I paying attention to the details? Do I need to? The answer would be a resounding yes! Even though I catch myself in a point-and-shoot mentality every now and then, I correct myself and work at getting my client a quality product.
Wow, a long way to go to define my idea of an artist! I just wanted to share a story of one person out of a select few that have inspired me to improve my craft through the years.
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