The Generalist, Art as Science
As artists we are often told to specialize. I think some of that comes from the advantage of mastering one technique at a time. In sales, specializing or focusing your product line is also key. However, the opposite option is not as often discussed, but is equally as valid—that of the generalist.
The generalist is an artist who approaches art like a science, a series of skills to be mastered, based on a foundation of art history, and with the ability to transition into any chosen field within the wider art market. Ron Lemen is one artist that comes to mind who has chosen this path.
One of the biggest advantages of the generalist approach is the ability to adapt and pivot. Ron started out as a skater doing art on boards, so maybe he’s just naturally inclined to move and move quickly! Either way, you can see the advantage in Ron’s career; being able to blend in and become whatever the job requires. As a side effect of that, he’s worked in video games, movies, tabletop games, skateboards, and about every other industry that pays people to create. When Ron comes up in conversations with other artists, it’s usually followed with, “Oh ya I know Ron. We worked together on that thing a few years back.”
The key to this path is demystifying art. Sure… on some level, art comes from the soul, but it is something that can be learned, taught, studied, and with advances in pigment and the understanding of light, understood like any other science. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ron at last year’s workshop. He would often run up to me with photos taken of strange lighting or other observations as we walked. He always knew the proper term for what the light was doing and why. His energy is infectious, but standing back, I could see he was always observing. Taking a keen interest in your surroundings, being present, and examining the world around you is key to any good scientist.
Precisely because of his scientific approach, Ron is a great teacher. By understanding art as a science, he’s able to explain how to study and replicate each experiment in art in a way that both new and experienced artists can relate to. He doesn’t limit himself to any medium. He’s great at oil painting and has studied with masters. He embraced digital early on, and has been very involved with the online community as a pioneer. He studied inking with comic book greats. Ron can do it all, and teach it all. If this excited you, remember that you can be a generalist, or art scientist, or both!
If you’re interested in working closely with Ron to find your path, or advance your skill, he will be back for The Fantastic Workshop in 2017.
If you want to join us for a 4 day, 4 night workshop to help learn about your own personal creative journey, you can read info about it here: www.1fantasticweek.com/info
You can see more of Ron's work at : http://ronlemen.blogspot.com/