I was on Facebook today, and I saw a conversation that got me thinking. An artist was talking about setting up a website, and was wondering what platform to use. As you may know, there are many options available, from "pre-fab" sites to kit-based things like squarespace.com to wordpress, to full on custom coding. Each has it advantages and its problems, but what interested me were the people pushing the more "hard core" options like wordpress. They all had excellent reasons that mostly seemed to boil down to power and flexibility....and everyone promoting those solutions were web coders, promoting the "best" solution.
Here's the thing - As an artist, I don't really NEED power or flexibility. I need a simple, quick solution that looks great, is easily updatable, and allows me to get back to painting. The "Best" solution is far more powerful than I need.
Back in my 20s, when I worked as an IT consultant, I bought a Honda S2000. It was AMAZING. That car could go 115mph on the on-ramp of the Interstate, and it handled like an absolute dream....I sold it when I moved to NYC, and a couple of years later, a good friend asked me if I would ever buy something like that again. I told him, "No." To drive that car like it was meant to, you have to drive in a way that would get you arrested on the streets of America. The "Best" was wasted in the situation I was in.
Both of these situations point to a common misconception, particularly in student artists. It is natural to compare yourself to the best, and most times, you are going to feel like you come up short. Here's the thing though - Just like the S2000, most situations don't call for the "Best." I work as a background painter in 2D animation, and 95% of the time, I am nowhere near challenged from a technical perspective. You don't really need to be a rockstar painter to do that job....sure, a rockstar *could* do it, but their skills would be mostly wasted, and I would hazard to guess that many studios would be hesitant to hire someone like that, figuring they would just move on as soon as possible.
The other situation I see with a lot of super-strong technical students who are starting out reminds me of the other situation. They are AMAZING at making images, but many of them really could stand to work on their user-friendliness. You can be the most powerful solution on the planet, and if you aren't easy to use.... See my point? Talking, interacting, and being cool to work with is a big part of this job. Don't focus on your technique to the point where you lose the ability to interact in a normal environment.
Always keep trying to improve your skills. There is nothing wrong with reaching for higher and higher positions, and that technique will serve you very well down the road....but don't worry too much when you are starting out if you aren't as good as your art heroes. Not every situation calls for WordPress, and often the speed of an S2000 is wasted on normal roads.
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