January and February were like attending Artist Boot Camp. Certain things I had been creating over the last few years- the model photography, ceramic masks and indie dance music- had started feeling stale. I was repeating myself, and the work wasn’t selling as much in 2014 as it was in 2013.
With a new tricked out Macbook Pro, and new Lightroom catalog + Adobe CC subscription, I went for a “scorched earth” policy that I wouldn’t mess around with old material or continue down old pathways. The three areas I wanted to grow were in new digital imaging like 3D Printing and laser cut etching, Video Art, and sculpture.
The classes and tech regarding 3D Printing, prototyping and laser cut/ etch I’ve mentioned in a post about TechShop Chandler. After my month there I had 3D printed a medium format camera, some action figures my son designed, assorted GoPro mounts; at the same time I had laser cut some signage, a large etched cube to make my daughter’s head into a Minecraft character, and a bunch of photos translated into etchings on mirrored acrylic and black acrylic. The process of making vector graphics for these machines forced me to learn Adobe Illustrator and the various iPhone and iPad apps that relate to Illustrator.
In regards to video, I taught myself Adobe Premiere Pro (with a little help from Lynda.com and various youtubers) to make better videos, and made mini-challenges about layering, cutting, time lapse, transforming photos using the “kids are in the picture” style, and more. I also figured out how to make animated Shadow Puppets in Adobe After Effects, which will factor in to some upcoming video art pieces.
The ceramic sculpture skills are currently getting a kick in the ass from a class in Hand Building Sculpture at Mesa Arts Center with an instructor who I really admire.
The value of learning new skills and challenging ourselves to think in new creative ways cannot be overstated. For example:
-each photo shoot or sculpting session I do now has behind-the-scenes GoPro footage mixed in Premiere Pro CC that also incorporates my music.
-The sculpting looks more professional, ideas are more fully realized, and they can get used in still photography or video animation.
-All new work I make becomes advertising for the classes I teach myself, alongside the advertising that happens when I meet people face to face in the places where I’m a student.
-Places like TechShop are creative incubators that lead to collaborations with other artists, like a costume designer I met.
-As much as artists struggle against it, whatever is the latest technology tends to get the most eyeballs- people in 2015 are as into creative 3D printing and video trickery the way I was when CD burning was new in the mid 90s.
I think artists of every level routinely need workshopping, classes, mentors, etc. to stay current.
If you enjoy any of this work I encourage you to like it and share it! For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site.