Originally posted December 26, 2012. Oh those innocent days … :)
I know lots of P1xels artists enjoy Instagram. I’ve never had time for it, just as I’ve never had time for Flickr or Twitter. To tell the truth, the fundamental concept upon which P1xels was founded and built was to attract the best artists and bring their work out of the virtual world into the real world, i.e., galleries, museums, publications, homes and offices, in the form of printed pieces. We’ve done a pretty good job of that, so far. Still a ways to go, but it’s happening.
While I believe that Instagram is a fascinating phenomenon, wherein the possibilities for global community building and expression are endless, P1xels is the anti-Instagram. It remains the only curated iphonic art site on the web. I wish that were not so, but no one seems to have the desire, drive, and courage to make such a move. It’s a lot easier just to take note of whom is being featured on this site and feature them elsewhere.
The focus of P1xels has always been one artist, one image at a time. I would prefer to see a picture every two weeks from someone than one a day (or more). I have seen many who try to crank out one, two, three a day. I start tuning them out, to tell the truth. I’ve looked at, conservatively, fifty thousand images since launching P1xels three-years ago and I’ve seen every time how that rush to post dilutes an artist’s output and degrades the overall quality of his/her work. I often write to them and warn them. Some heed, some do not.
While many use Instagram to promote themselves, we have been promoting the whole medium and many artists from the beginning. Yes, Instagram stars … ah internet fame, so fleeting …
This is another area that makes P1xels very different from other sites: the personal connection. I cannot tell you how many times someone has sent me a picture and said “Will you please tell me what you think of this? I cannot get an honest opinion anywhere else.” Or how many times I’ve written to someone to suggest a way to make a good picture even better. I can count on one hand how many people have taken umbrage at that. Everyone else graciously accepted my suggestions, to the betterment of their work. (I was wrong one time: I suggested that to someone that she remove the sprocket-hole frame from an image; it actually was stronger with them, one of those rare times, so we went with the original.)
The collective dedication to excellence and artistic development, and the concurrent willingness to accept a critique, is unique here.
I would like to remind anybody who cares to listen that Ansel Adams said that “One great picture a month is a good crop.”
I understand Instagram is a social network before it is anything else and, as such, wonderful in its own way. But it pushes people to post and post often. Marketers use it as an advertising medium. Many images are not shot solely on “mobile devices,” i.e., phones, but rather other mobile devices known as cameras. As much of a social medium, it seems to be a marketing medium as well.
It’s not what P1xels is about, and never will be, beyond pushing the medium deeper into the Zeitgeist so that we can market some beautiful art to the public!
Earlier this year, I was interviewed for another site and they asked what I would like to say in closing. I’m going to cannibalize, and elaborate on, my response, because it is what I would like everyone to keep in mind as we enter the fourth year of the iphoneographic, aka iphonic art explosion.
I would say, in general, the biggest three mistakes artists make are:
- Trying too hard, not trusting themselves and the picture, usually manifested in over-apping an image. I know I say “App that bitch ‘til it sings,” but the corollary is “App as needed;” Look at your picture: it will tell you what it needs. You will know when you have it. If in doubt, you have gone too far. Nonetheless, experimentation is great. Picasso did sketches and studies for months before painting Desmoiselles d’Avignon.
- Wasting time on bad pictures. I’ve gotten hundreds of beautifully apped pictures of people shot from behind, for example, as well as all sorts of other boring pictures apped to perfection. The problem is, they are still boring. It actually hurts sometimes when I see this and I think, “Couldn’t you have gotten at least one face in there?” Don’t waste your time on boring pictures: you cannot app a bad picture into a good one most of the time, but everybody goes through that phase believing that at some point, including me.
- Rushing to post. Take your time. It is not a race! No one can make a great picture every day. Always be shooting! Be aware of the moment, where you are, of whom and what is around you: here you will find the eternal, fleeting moments of reality which will become the canvases through which you channel your vision. Pick the right image and bring forth its ephemeral beauty, not in haste, but in contemplation. We are doing visual magical realism. Fill your life with art, music, books, and like-minded people (yes, including Instagram if you want!). Be aware of your own dreams, thoughts, and inspirations: bring forth the vision that is unique to you, no matter the time and effort involved. Be aware of every pixel. Timeless trumps timely, always.