I just spent the last few minutes searching the web for the origin of a particularly striking image. It ended up coming from Hong Kong based artist Alex FaiChan (http://alexfaichan.wix.com/de-saturation). The picture was only one of many excellent illustrations in his portfolio. If his career is anything like most of the working artists that I know, the stuff he can actually share on his portfolio is just a sliver of the work he has done over the years. The overwhelming majority of it is probably owned by some other company and doesn’t legally belong to him. This was an image created by a commercial artist. It is unlikely that he spent days, or even hours, on that picture. That is just not the way we (I’ll include myself here too) are wired. He probably creates a lot more than anyone will ever see.
I might not be working at the pace that I tended to when under deadline, but I still generate a lot more stuff than I ever present to the world. I have deleted more 3D models in early to mid stages than I will ever complete. Sometimes I need to explore a lot of dead ends before I arrive at a useable model, or a competent image. All of that work isn’t wasted. It is important and foundational. It is likely the sort of work that as a younger artist, I would have cherished as my very best stuff. The finest I had created up till that point. Now I discard it, because I would rather it didn’t clutter up my hard drive. More importantly, I don’t really feel like I have “best stuff” anymore. There are pieces I have sculpted, drawn, animated, or programmed that I think are nice to look at or do their job well, but I don’t really see any of it as great.
Okay, this isn’t some emo artsy nonsense. I don’t flagellate myself in darkness awaiting the muses. I just don’t really have strong feelings about any one creation or work. I think this is probably the default setting for working artists, if they consider creating their job. I doubt that accountants covet a particularly well filled in ledger. It is just one of many tasks they will accomplish in a day. Feeling satisfied with work well done is far better than seeking to create a masterpiece.
I don’t know Alex FaiChan, but I looked at his work. The image that led me to his portfolio is only one of many. A task well done, a standard met. Not a masterpiece. Not of particular importance. At least not to the artist that created it. How can I infer this from his work? He didn’t stop. He hasn’t quit. He still makes new images and none are in any place of prominence on his site. At least outwardly, he doesn’t seem to care more about one piece of art over the others. It is the collection of work that matters. This is the mindset of a working artist.
Thumb up to the working artist. They people that design logos and pinstriping on busses. The people that create illustrations for cereal boxes. The artists that create scores of icons, text treatments, page layouts, and storyboards. The design of your calendar, the lines and curves or your coffee pot. None of them care about creating a masterpiece. These works are not intended for museum walls or historical reverence. They are created to make our world just a little more pleasant to look at.