We are visual artists, who happen to use photography as our primary art creation form. Yet, we should not trap ourselves in a narrow Procrustean bed of just “photography”. We are artists.
Thus, the goal then seems to be to augment our creativity and artistry. To become more artistic, and to make more visual art.
What does that mean? Some ideas:
1. First proclaim yourself as a visual artist/artist
In today’s world, you’re actually not allowed to call yourself an “artist”. Why is this? Some theories:
First of all, we are too tied into the notion that we must make a living from our passion, otherwise it is not worthy. In other words, modern society is all about saying:
Whatever thou does, thou must make money from it, or else it isn’t worth doing.
In other words, money is of the apex value in our society. And anything that does not generate in money-generating is unworthy.
Yet what would the ancient Greeks or Romans say?
Well the ancient greeks– they didn’t even have ‘money’. Read the Iliad — the only forms of wealth are oxen, rare items (swords, armor), and human-resources (soldiers, people you control, slaves, women, etc). And the greatest value– a ‘hecatomb’ (sacrificing 100 oxen to the gods, for good fortune).
But thinking about money-getting is a slave mentality. Consider the video game DIABLO II — in this game, money (gold) is quite useless. In the early levels having gold is useful (to buy potions, town portals, basic equipment, etc), but as you level-up, what you want is more ‘experience points’ (to level up, to fight badder monsters, and more difficult bosses). And you look forward to the boss battles, going to new and foreign territories, gaining new skills, and also getting new rare/unique and legendary equipment (armor, swords, weapons, etc). And with the rare items– you cannot buy it with gold. You can only get it through random ‘drops’ (very low percentage point of getting good items), or later through trade/barter.
But anyways the main point is this:
You do not need to make money from your art to call yourself an ‘artist’.
Just try it next time. When you meet a stranger or someone new, if the question of ‘What do you do?’ or ‘What is your job?’ comes up, just say: “I’m an artist”. Then see them blink their eyes… dying to ask (they are secretly wondering)– oh — how many followers does he/she have, does he/she make money from it, and if so … how much? Once again, in today’s world, your value is how much money you have made, and how much money-making potential you got.
2. Becoming a poly-math
What makes geniuses so genius-like? Simple: their ability to attempt/master many different fields of knowledge, and cross-pollinate and combine them in unique ways.
For example, Leonardo da Vinci. The man was a ‘genius’ insofar much as he was infinitely curious like a child. He was curious about human anatomy, physiology, drawing, mechanics, science, art, war, etc. And his great skill– combining all of these knowledges in interesting ways.
For example, when studying tide-pools, he ultimately figured out that he could draw the hair-buns of ‘Leda and the swan’ in the same manner. The idea — tidepools and human hair have something in common!!!
Or consider Kanye West. How as a kid he was into luxury goods and fashion (Louis Vuitton). Eventually he did an internship in fashion, and eventually made his infamous YEEEZY line. He took what he learned from luxury fashion houses, streetwear, and his own hip hop rap music/culture to create his own products.
Or Elon Musk— he was into cars waaaay before he co-founded Tesla (he apparently bought a McLaren after he sold PayPal). Perhaps his passion for cars is what had him start to innovate in Tesla.
What I am trying to say is refuse to let yourself to be put in a box. To become outside of the box means don’t let anyone try to classify or box you in. Better to ‘undefine’ yourself than to define yourself.
3. Love of it all
Do not prefer any colors or aesthetics over the others. Learn to love and embrace it all!
Some fun creative assignments:
- Start using procreate on your iPad or iPhone to re-mix, glitch, or add gradient filters to your images. You can do this to relatively new photos, or your older work.
- Practice sketching for fun: Do it on a piece of paper (can be scratch paper, a napkin, a tissue, printer paper, etc), and don’t strive for it to be ‘good’. Rather, the ‘visual gist‘ is what you are going for.
- Construct and deconstruct your photos. Take your compositions and break them apart. Figure out what make them tick, just like a kid taking apart a toaster oven to figure out how it works.
- Experiment: Experiment with different exposure compensations or use a flash. Or even try using film.
- Share: Share your photos to your own website/blog — and have a category for ‘visual experiments’. Also feel free to upload your visual experiments to arsbeta.com
5. More creative resources
- CREATIVE EVERY DAY MOBILE FREE // PRINT
- FILM NOTES PRINT
- HOW TO SEE
- MODERN PHOTOGRAPHER
- FREE ERIC KIM PRESETS
Take your photography to the next level:
- November 13 (Saturday): SF BAY AREA ADVANCED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP (New)
- December 11 (Saturday): ONLINE LEARN FROM THE MASTERS ZOOM PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP (New)
7. What to watch
Some cinema/film recommendations:
- THE MATRIX (the original and the second one).
- Justice league Snyder cut
- FOUNDATION (Apple TV)
- Blade runner 2049
8. What is ERIC KIM up to?
- Re-reading the ILIAD and inspired by the simple poetry // EPUB
- Watching the MATRIX (second one), and surprised how good it has stood up to time. Thinking about LIDAR, and the ‘green 3D vision.
- Experimenting detoxing from coffee at least once a month (for a full 24-38 hours). For example detoxed from coffee the last 1.5 days, and had a strong DEATH WISH COFFEE this morning, and I feel insanely great.
- Focusing on physical strength: Experimenting trying to do ‘clean and jerk’ (and eventually a strict shoulder press and Turkish getup) with my 48kg ‘The beast’ kettlebell (105 pounds).
- The grand idea– to ‘move people, and move products‘ as a good personal life motto of mine (entrepreneurial thinking). Realizing that ultimately I am a ‘photography entrepreneur‘ (this will become my new introduction to new people/strangers).
- ERIC KIM WALLET
- MUSE NECK STRAP
- ERIC KIM NECK STRAP (MARK II)
- HENRI NECK STRAP by ERIC KIM (MARK IV)
- ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP MARK II
10. What next?
And ultimately if all else fails, just make more photos!
- MY DESIRE TO CAPTURE IT ALL.
- VISUAL DETOX.
- Photography is Our Addiction
- A BILLION PHOTOS
- THE MOTIVATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER.
If this inspired you, feel free to share or forward to a friend! NEWSLETTER LINK.