It is my conviction that every piece of art is a collaboration. If one artist painted it, they painted it with the influence of many teachers, experiences, and relationships. I believe that artistic talent and the pursuit of honing that skill are a gift from God. An artist paints the sunset, but He formed the sunset we paint.
If you ask an artist to name who has influenced them, most of us will have a long list to share. When we imagine it, the thought is of a lone artist painting in his studio producing masterpieces. The truth is that image, much like the legends of the Wild West, is exaggerated.
World famous artists not only painted from the influences of others in their lives, they employed numerous assistants. Rembrandt, Veronese, and Van Dyck all had workshops of artists helping to complete their work. Some assistants only painted what was instructed, others contributed more.
This isn’t any more an issue to me than the fact a Gibson or Martin guitar is made by a group of people. Both the primary and assistant artists were successful and intelligent businessmen. The realized how to produce quality work on what was for them a mass scale, and provide for their families.
One person didn’t have to paint every brushstroke to be great. Whether one person or a group of artists most of the famous works of art were commissioned by someone. They weren’t just painting from imagination, they were filling an order. It’s the way they filled the order that is important.
The same is true of illustrators, greeting card artists, graphic designers, movie art departments, and comic book artists. This broad spectrum of craftsmen share talent, business acumen, teamwork, and adaptability. As a result, when I think of great artists, it doesn’t just include people born before the 1700’s.
Men like, Rockwell, Dick Sprang, Alex Ross, and Drew Struzan invested, inspired, and interested the public. Did you know that Salvador Dali and Rockwell both produced artwork for Hallmark? Or that the famed Presidential and prolific portrait artist Raymond Everett Kinstler used to work on comics? Artistic ability, group effort, and art that is widely appreciated have never been strangers to one another.
I love to watch any type of artist design everything from a caped vigilante to an ancient castle. One watercolorist I admire spoke of having to draw trash cans as a commercial illustrator. Those illustrations and the art he produces today supplied for his family’s needs. Art can be found anywhere, it’s not limited to museums or galleries.
It doesn’t occur only when one person stands behind the canvas. I hope this encourages you both to appreciate art in every corner, and to not be afraid to collaborate with others. Who draws it is never as important as how it impacts others. Everything precious in life is not about the recognition, it’s about the results.