DAMN GOOD ADVICE: Fourteen

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could predict the future?”

“Can you imagine how much power, fame, and wealth you could amass if you knew before everyone else what the key product would be?”

“Can’t you find comfort, safety, and reassurance in knowing what you create would be well-received?”

It’s all the talk of trends. I have not yet been exposed to photography trends, although I am sure if I were to read photography publications more devoutly my inner dialogue would be inundated with the jabber of the next best thing. I find it preposterous to pay X amount of dollars to whatever institution to tell me the direction of the market and how my work should follow *if* I want to be recognized, significant, or displayed in a gallery. I much prefer to blaze my own trail so to speak. I agree with Lois’ sentiment: “the fact that others are moving in a certain direction is always proof positive…that a new direction is the only direction.” To follow it one step further, I believe that if I am going to create artwork and photography that I market as original, Nate Metz work then it should come from my mind unadulterated by marketing savvy professionals. I have to maintain an integrity to my work, my point of view, and who I am as an artist. I believe in my work. My work sells. The first part of making great art is that I believe in the creation. I am not an artist who creates in line with the trend for the sake of selling art. Can you argue that it is harder this way? You may, but I think it is easier to please myself before trying to please the rest of the world. I am unable to kowtow and pay lip service to any trend if I first did not believe it myself. Here are some trends that I do embrace:

1) digital photography i/o film

2) the green movement

3) world peace

4) a global spiritual awakening

At one time, though, I paid money to learn how to forecast trends and in turn was paid to follow them. I flipped through hundreds of glossy magazines to stay aware of what was going on and where we were going. These experiences working with trends came while working in the fashion industry. Trends are a big part of the industry for the big conglomerates who want to appear as though they have their finger on the pulse of fashion. It is a lot like a popular high school click as they pick who or what’s in and out. During those 6 years, I found trends to be a lot of fluff. I read vague generalizations about how in two years, it’ll be all about comfort, chic style lines, femininity, and futuristic. And as different trend houses preached the coming days it is obvious that different designers followed the advice and amazingly in two years most everyone was right on point. Not. It was just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here are some images of a “future” collection I had created based on some trend research.

In retrospect, it is much easier to identify trends in a creative field. Just add up the number of people who did what over x amount of time. But, if you subscribe to the future-casting world of trends, then you are trapped because you have to go in the direction you bought into back then. Your world very easily becomes a convoluted Back to the Future mess. So follow the advice, follow your big ideas, make them reality, and everyone who follows in your footsteps will by default be on the trend they seek.

Damn Good Advice – TWELVE

This post is a two-parter. The supreme court was presented with a case this week challenge benefits for gay couples. It’s part of a larger political struggle for equal rights for gays and gay marriage. Social media was inundated with red “equals” signs in support of gay rights. As a gay man and philosopher I do have some very strong opinions about the subject. But, that will not be the discussion here. Lois’ advice hits me strong. What is the point in having these strong opinions if I can’t articulate them? How could I ever expect to enter a discussion or dialogue with anyone on the subject? When I added this symbol as my profile picture of Facebook, I couldn’t say why I felt the need to post it. Even now, a few days later, I can’t clearly state my exact opinion. Again, I default to a symbol to demonstrate:

equal rights

So what about THE ART? I know you’re asking it. Gay marriage is rather off-topic for the blog. Here’s why: the inner turmoil to find words to describe my feelings, to describe the red equals symbol, and the befuddled desire to express emotion is the same pattern of confusion I find when I show new work. The nerves and anxiety still throw me even though I know inside why the work is important, why it’s good, and why I want to share it. My work, though, does not incorporate universal symbols shared through social media. It’s up to me to articulate passionately and succinctly my ideas. I’m gearing up for my first exhibit in June and it is nigh time I start gathering my thoughts on the key images.

Note: I so greatly appreciate how I only look at one entry at a time from the book. And, each time I open it to write my next reflection the advice is so on-point with my art career. If I haven’t yet said it, I do recommend George Lois’ Damn Good Advice as a touchstone for your own personal reflections.

DAMN GOOD ADVICE – NINE

Anything that communicates it’s message in a nanosecond is disposable by nature. This advice is really the first that I digress from in my experience as an artist and a creator. The caveat here being that good art has a hook, a message, some joiner spark that ignites interest in the piece. Whereas, an ad would stop there, art needs something to hold the viewers interest. After all, we don’t print giclees of a McDonald’s big mac add for over the fireplace! If you do, e-mail me. I would love to talk to you more!

Sure, in a crowded gallery or winding museum walls, my work needs to make a statement and communicate a BIG IDEA in that nanosecond. How else would the viewer stop walking? The real kicker is that in addition to the BIG IDEA, it should look like NATE METZ. Branding is important even with art–we call it finding our voice. What I like most about using my voice is talking about truly big ideas about life, philosophy, spirituality, light–not cold medicine or fast food. Let’s be honest, products generally do not fall into the category of being a big idea for the human race. Henceforth, when I refer to BIG IDEA it shall be broader in theme than capitalistic endeavors, products, inventions, and marketing. I am striving for a greater consciousness in my understanding of my work and our world: a truly BIG IDEA.

Damn Good Advice – EIGHT

It is time for some honest reflection on the ideas behind my digital photography. My captures do not always go for the Big Idea. While it’s true, I have been able to get some amazing work together, the bulk of it is safe and “pretty.” I can say all of this because I have not pursued my craft with much seriousness, about all that was required of a good hobby. My more recent work is finding it’s voice and making a statement, for which I am very grateful! And, more importantly, my book AWAKE is a Big Idea. That is one project that really penetrates the mind, touches the heart, and elicits a reaction.

In deeper reflection, art should have purpose. My acrylics and collage work is some of my most pointed work. My spirituality and philosophical musings are much more apparent here, for example:

A Tree of Life © 2010 NATE METZ - acrylic on canvas

A Tree of Life © 2010 NATE METZ

The connection between body, mind, and spirit / heart, brain, and aura is apparent within the context of a tree. The image easily pulls the viewer around the canvas exploring our personal connectivity.

I can look at my photography and see the deeper themes, but it certainly takes more work on the viewer’s part to explore them. In working with a critique of AWAKE, I can see how some pictures lack intention and purpose. The book works, though, because of the accompanying text. This image is a great example:

From Prince Charming for Snow White © 2007 NATE METZ - digital photograph of peony

From Prince Charming for Snow White © 2007 NATE METZ

This peony if framed on a wall would like some context. The title is ambiguous, although the story is just a personal memory: in a school play, I was Prince Charming and on opening night, I picked a bouquet of white peonies from the garden and gave them to the girl playing Snow White. Isn’t that sweet? I took a different approach though when I published this image. In AWAKE, this is frame 49, stating

We have the power and responsibility to transcend anything in our lives that keeps us from accessing the magnificence of our being.

The soft fullness of the petals create a mystical atmosphere where contemplating transcendence works. Personal power is a Big Idea.

My goals now are to transition from exploring the subjects themselves to exploring artistic concepts. I will not rely any longer on clever titles, backstories, or spiritual text to provide the necessary working context of my photography. I am in the pursuit of higher work: inspiring images without limitation and truly Big Ideas! This is what I’m referencing:

I Prefer the Unfurling of a Rose © 2012 NATE METZ

I Prefer the Unfurling of a Rose © 2012 NATE METZ

Here the translucency is unexpected, and one of the next concepts I am exploring. I purchased a high-intensity flashlight to help me capture this magical lighting when not naturally available. I will surely share my progress here, so be sure to bookmark my blog!

Art Biz Coach Workshop Testimonial

This week I sat down with Alyson on Skype to let her know what’s happened in the past 5 months. If you remember, I attended the Art Biz Liftoff workshop through the Rehoboth Art League. I have reached so many wonderful accomplishments and continue to expand by business following the goals and tips I’ve learned. I highly recommend you check out her workshop and online course offerings to see what can help you live your dream!

Nate Metz Awakens the Artist Within

AWAKE – On Sale Locally!

I am happy to announce that you may now purchase your copy of AWAKE locally at The Medicine Woman Shoppe in Lewes, DE! Even with free .pdf previews and images of the book all over my web presence, I understand that it is hard to get a good idea of a book–especially an art book. The book experience although primarily visual, is also a tactile experience. It is the number one complaint about Kindles, tablets, and other readers. With these considerations, I put my intentions out to be able to sell AWAKE locally. I met with local business owner, Terri Pippin about 10 days ago to discuss selling my book brick and mortar. If you have been following my posts and are excited about the book, but still not sure about your purchase, this is a great time to go and check it out for yourself!

AWAKE on sale locally in Lewes, DE at The Medicine Woman Shoppe
AWAKE on display at The Medicine Woman Shoppe in Lewes, DE

I am very grateful to Terri for this wonderful opportunity. She is a wonderful woman, healer, shaman, and now business partner. While perusing the book, you may also want to inquire about her professional services: CMT, Reiki Master, and Shaman. Terri Pippin is the Founder of The Medicine Woman. Terri started her spiritual journey of healing over twenty-five years ago when she was first introduced to meditation. She has been Certified in Massage since 1996. Her journey has included the development of Reiki, culminating in the achievement of Master Reiki Level in 2007, and the development of several energy healing techniques. The Medicine Woman is trained in both Celtic and Native American Shamanism and has been a shamanic healer since 1998.

What’s that? You are a local but not sure where the shop is? The Medicine Woman, LLC is located at…


33800 Dreamweaver Lane
Lewes, DE 19958
302-645-8369

and of course you may check out the Shoppe online at…

www.TerriPippinTheMedicineWoman.com

Damn Good Advice – SEVEN

It seems to be the achilles heel: all the talent in the world, but no work ethic to go anywhere with it. It has been stressed to me time and time again by peers, mentors, and my own experience that being an artist takes a lot of work. But, it is the most rewarding to share yourself with the world in this way, enriching the lives of many. I digress though, George Lois, on working yourself to a burnout day in and day out. In my spiral journey I have to keep my drive in balance with the rest of my being. Certainly there are days that I invest more, but to repeat draining activities day after day negatively impacts my art. I need more than a nights sleep to fully recharge: reading, a salt bath, taking my dog on a hike, flying a kite, chilling with friends, or many other options. I’ve learned that devoting my everything to any one thing is not healthy for my quest to be a whole person. So, yes to a work ethic, no to running myself into the ground.

Damn Good Advice – SIX

I am guilty of the infrequent excuses as to why I am not making more art, selling more art, better at my craft. One of my popular day dream remedies is in fact the notion that having better/newer/different tools would allow me to reach my goals. Fact remains it is simple not true. I make great art because of my great ideas, not because of the tech specs listed on the box. I think it is a myth that we are only as good as our resources and means. In reviewing photographs for my book, I was amazed at how good my eye was 10 years ago and that I was still capturing great light, color, textures, and patterns with a much simpler camera than my dSLR and no photo editing software. To that end, much of my photographic journal here on this blog is from my iPhone that has minimal control. With limited controls (read variables), I am able to focus on my idea and not all the other small details. It can be very liberating sometimes. Sometimes. Another great example is this image:



image source

AWAKE

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I announced that I would be receiving a proof for the book that I wrote. It arrived and I made a lot of really good edits, refining my text and some image adjustments. I’m proud to say that the finished product is available for purchase from my website!

I’d like to share some of the background on how and why I wrote AWAKE. On my personal Facebook page, I began posting nature photographs along with inspirational and philosophical messages. I received a lot of positive feedback from my friends and family, but it was until 2 months ago that I decided to do something with all of that information. When I started my business, I explored ideas on how to share my work other than galleries. That’s when a coffee table book idea began to take shape.

About the same time, I was organizing and reviewing my work. I’ve been taking digital photographs for 10 years now and wanted to show some of my older work because it’s good. The calls I read usually state that work needs to be made within the last 2-3 years. So what was I to do with my archive of work? Hold off until I became famous enough for a formal retrospective? True to my nature, I found a way that I could share all of my work without approval of a call for entry. AWAKE solved the problem because I could share older images, introduce myself as an artist, and incorporate my experience, strength and hope from my Facebook page…all of which exists outside of a gallery. When I do show, I plan to have my book for sale along with the photographs, paintings, or whatever the primary medium may be because I consider the book to be a promotional and marketing compilation.

If you’ve read my blog you’ll see I have 3 major categories: nature, street, and abstract. I believe my best work incorporates more than one of those categories, but people respond to the nature photographs straight-up. AWAKE covers my more accessible art, which I am perfectly okay with. They are indeed beautiful photographs. AWAKE contains a collection of 85 full color photographs! They are sequenced in a lyrical flow designed to awaken your body, mind, and spirit.

I have spent considerable time reflecting on my personal journey, perusing my journal and extracted 69 inspirational, insightful messages to pair with the photographs. They are my intimate thoughts, observations, and reflections on humanity, planet Earth, and spirituality. Combining these thoughts and images, I divided AWAKE into 3 sections: TRUTH, SECRET, and LIFE. TRUTH is a set of observations to help us live more honestly and with greater awareness. SECRET contains ideas that help to unlock the mysteries of life and make sense of our world. And, LIFE is about the marvelous lives we live. Each section also has a short essay to frame the photos and messages.

So, please order AWAKE. I know you will enjoy my book and it will prove to be a great investment for you!

Damn Good Advice – FIVE

Oh yes, here we are again: the rebel. I remember having to take a stand with my work on a few occasions during my school years. I didn’t take art classes in high school and only a couple of electives in college. My primary foundation in creativity were my college fashion design courses. During my study abroad I visited Barcelona and caught inspiration off of Gaudi and the tile mosaics. After 9 months in the incubator upstairs I entered my senior year and began my senior collection. Of the 12-15 looks designed we were to construct 3 for the runway. My masterpiece design was a pair of pants with 2 optional panels (embroidered or chiffon) that converted to capris and again into bermudas, and with one final conversion it became a pencil skirt. Out of 1 pattern I got 5 looks! Here is were I took the stand. My professor only wanted to count this feat of engineering towards one of my final three, but I stood my ground: the pant/short combo for one and the skirt for another. [images below]

And again, I will reiterate: I think it is just dumb to rebel, take a stand, or be outside of the box for sake of being different. Outrageous ideas should still be grounded with a purpose or an intelligent point of view, elsewise the effects of pushing those boundaries will be lost. A wonderful contemporary example is Lady Gaga. I implore you to watch one of her hour-long interviews, listen to the ballad versions and see what an amazingly beautiful, articulate, educated, and talents woman she is. I guess my mentor would say it’s about “having the goods to back it all up!”

As for the excitement of an idea, let me say that upon inspiration and brainstorming new work I operate so well (organized, punctual, error free), adrenaline is coursing through my body (often denying me sleep), and when I have the goods to back it all up I find other people are excited about my work!