My careers as an abstract artist and as a photographer ran so parallel that I decided it would be best to write about these two careers together. The advice was nearly identical and the experiences even more so.
Dale Malner is an incredibly talented artist who has created many interesting works. He has also traveled the globe with Trek Bikes, creating their worldwide exhibitions. He can only be described as intensely creative and I found we had more in common than I would have ever thought possible. We had an amazing discussion of how creating art for the art world related to creating art for the corporate world. He has the interesting perspective of having done both for many years. My opinion of the commercial art world is that you are not considered an artist as much as you are a tool to create the art. Dale’s thoughts on the subject seemed to resonate more with design being perceived to have more value than art, and he’s done enough of both to realize what the true difference is. We connected with a mutual appreciation for art, expression, and creativity – but also the pursuit of freedom from the labels of what that means.
Dale’s latest works have been inspired by bramble in nature, where he takes that view to the extreme in his large-scale (over 7 feet tall) creations. Check out these two beautiful examples that he shared with me. Dale created several of these pieces in his study of this representation and every one of them is incredibly interesting!
The same held true when I spent time with Jim Backus, an incredibly talented nature photographer. Jim has a way of looking through a lens that could also be considered his paintbrush. He went into professional photography fifteen years ago as a second career, much as I would be doing. In that fifteen years, he’s taken thousands of photos, traveled extensively, published thirteen books and shares his love of photography by giving numerous seminars every year.
Jim shared the details of a recent tip to Alaska that yielded over 11,000 photos, but said only ten of them really captured exactly what he was trying to get. He shared this photo (shown on the computer screen above) of an island from that trip, and if you look closely, those black spots are about a dozen bears milling around. He ventured out to that island for the perfect adrenaline-inducing rush of looking through a lens into a bear’s eyes. That takes serious courage in my opinion, but he said that the only time he feels nervous is when he’s taking all of that expensive camera gear across open water!
The reality of either of these careers is trying to make a living in a world that is incredibly subjective on the value of art. Both Dale and Jim shared with me that having a career “creating” an image is that the value of that image will ultimately be set by the viewer – whether it’s a potential customer, a gallery owner, or a curator of an art show. This brought me right back to what I learned about being a writer, where talent and creativity are only a part of the equation. The rest is all about branding, marketing and the ability to sell it. Dale put it into perspective for me best when he said that the idea of a career and the idea of art are hard to put together. We all try to make them fit, but compromises will have to be made along the way.
Maybe the key is finding a career that still lets you have the time to create your art, photography, or writing, and the key to fulfillment is to then create it without having to compromise – without worrying about how it will be perceived or if it will be purchased. Jim summed it up when he said, “Enjoy what you are doing 80% of the time, and if you don’t, then change what you do!” I couldn’t agree more!
If you want to see more of Jim’s work, go to: http://www.magoophoto.com/gallery.php
Dale shares most of his work via his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/dale.malner