I’m a Printmaker, Not an Artist

Artists get show horned together, as if we are all the same.

It doesn’t matter what subject or what medium, society thinks we are pretty much all the same thing.

Painter, sculpture, illustrator, printer, photographer, all the same.

Luckily I don’t remember specifically who I am going to pick on next, it was someone in Blogistan, or on the Twitter Show. This person was pimping out their “art training”, and from what I could see, all artists got the same training.

We’re not the same though. The skillz required to create a great painting are quite different from the skills required to make a great sculpture. Illustration, yet other skillz. Printmaking? Forgeddaboudit.

There are some basic skills that each of these different types of artists must have, but after those skills are worked out, the skills become wildly different.

I got to thinking that an artists medium is sorta like being a specific type of engineer. Nobody would offer the same training to both a Mechanical Engineer and a Structural Engineer.

A little digress, In the Spice Mines (my term of affection for my DayJob), I am an Engineer. A Mechanical Engineer in fact. I work with Electrical Engineers, Structural Engineers, Civil Engineers, and Architects (sigh) on a regular basis.

We all had the same foundation training in math and science, but the details of what we know are very different. I know enough about each of these to get by (480 volt 3 phase! #5 @ 12″ on center!), but the specialization between fields of engineering is rather different.

Electrical Engineers are concerned with voltages, power, and signal; Mechanical engineers concern themselves with pressure loss and heat gain; Structural Engineers think about shear stress and moments; architects concern themselves with getting their latte right.

Nobody would offer the same training to each of these types of engineers.

Why, as artists, are we offered the same training, wrapped as “artist training”?

I think it is because we think of ourselves as artists first, and our medium second. Contrast this with engineers, who think of them self as an Electrical or Mechanical Engineer first, and an engineer in general second.

I’d like to see artists identify with their medium first, and as an artist second.

“Artist” has too much stigma. Too much baggage.

“Artist” doesn’t capture the very different skills required to produce very different art.

I am a printmaker. I am a painter. Sometimes, an illustrator. I am not a sculpture, or a photographer.

Does this make me an artist? I guess, but after the above, that is just a trifle.

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