Sunday, March 25, 2012

Artistic Integrity

By Armand Cabrera

As an artist I love the process of painting. I’ve always taken an illustrative approach to my painting in that I painted anything people would hire me to paint. Commissions were a partnership entered into with the idea someone was hiring me to give them my vision of the agreed upon subject. The client’s participation stopped at the edge of the canvas and the rest was up to me. They had right of first refusal on the work but they didn’t have the right to stand over me and guide my decisions as I painted like puppet masters pulling the strings for every aspect of the art, from subject to style of execution.

Even as an illustrator or production artist I expect to be hired for my knowledge not just my wrist. I am not for hire to render someone else’s vision; it has to be a collaboration or it’s not worth my time and effort. In the last few years people seem genuinely shocked by my stance. I guess the downturn took more than money out of the economy it also took many artists self-respect with it.

I am not talking about large projects that require multiple artists to complete them like television series’, movies or games. In those instances the project style requires consistency. I’m talking about smaller projects like ad campaigns, illustration assignments or gallery work that is completed by a single artist.

I believe if you hire an artist you have a responsibility to be familiar with their work. If you want to have a painting in a certain style of a living artist, then hire that artist. Don’t hire someone to be a stand in for that artist. If you can’t afford the original artist then then hire an artist whose work you can afford but let them paint it in their own style.

I think it is our responsibility as artists and illustrators to buck this trend. Who wants to be known as the guy who paints like (fill in the blank) only at a cheaper rate? Do you even have a career if all you are is a wrist for hire by people who can’t draw and paint?

Do you agree or disagree?