TipSquirrel welcomes back Chad Perkins
Before digging into this blog, I must clarify its scandalous title. This blog is most certainly not to deride the artistic talents of Scott Kelby or Andrew Kramer. On the contrary, I am a big fan of both of these guys, particularly Andrew Kramer. As a matter of fact, it is because of Andrew Kramer that tutorials look better and are more artistic (generally speaking) than they were several years ago. So, just to reiterate – I’m a huge fan of both Scott Kelby and Andrew Kramer, and I’m well aware that they are better artists than I am, and better teachers as well.
So, this blog is not about problems with Scott Kelby or Andrew Kramer, it’s instead about the problems that arise in the art of those (myself included) that follow them. They do a great job teaching us; they do so great at teaching us in fact, that their “cookbook” tutorials often give those that follow them a false sense of artistic accomplishment.
Trust me, we’ve all been there. You decide that you would like to increase your skills, so you set out to learn a new software application. But often times, these software packages are fairly intimidating. We might feel overwhelmed by all there is to know. And after spending hours in the manual and figuring out what the buttons do, we are often dejected with the crap that we make and our lack of understanding of how the good guys do it so well. So that’s one of the many reasons that creative communities NEED guys like Scott Kelby and Andrew Kramer. They come up with these recipes that give us hope – “click this, click that, drag this here, and you’ve made a masterpiece!” It just feels fantastic, and we are empowered with a new sense of resolve to progress and go farther on our own.
Or at least, that’s what is supposed to happen. Instead, what I’m noticing is that people are letting that power get to their heads a little bit. Remember that there really isn’t any skill in following a tutorial. That’s the deception. When really, really good trainers create a really, really good tutorial, they make it easy to create something masterful. The deception is that you might feel like you are now good enough to create something that masterful on your own. It’s like painting in a watercolor coloring book. In these books (in case you’ve never had the pleasure of playing with one), you just basically dump water on it, and the watercolor paint is already dried on the surface. Thus, instantly you have created a watercolor masterpiece, with perfect colors and all of the color within the lines. The coloring book gave you the sensation of being a great painter, but really all you did was dump a bunch of water all over the place. The magic was in the book, not in the painter. Likewise, when a copy machine makes a copy of a beautiful poem, we praise the poet, not the Xerox machine. So too, in the case of creative tutorials, the magic is often in the tutorial creator, not in the tutorial follower.
This concerns me a little. If the creative communities of the world just become regurgitators of recipes and not artists, where will that leave the future of art? If you express yourself artistically only with tricks you’ve learned from Andrew Kramer, are you really an artist? Should a company hire you to do their Photoshop work just because you know Scott Kelby’s recipe for creating glassy reflections? Again, knowing this stuff is great, but what are you bringing to the table that couldn’t be found in a step-by-step tutorial?
There are several reasons why you should go beyond simple recipes and become an artist. First of all, the purpose of art is to express what’s really going on in that head/heart of yours. Art is a tool that man has always used to process life experiences. And no one else can share your experiences like you can. If you just put out copies of other people’s work, the world will never get to see the magic that only you can offer. Also, the study of art does something to you. It will make you a more interesting, intelligent, creative, and tolerant person. But you’ll never get those attributes just by taking tutorials. Just looking around at the state of the world, I think it’s pretty clear that we could use more artists.
In summary, I have to give massive props and thanks to Scott Kelby and Andrew Kramer. They are amazing. Honestly, I’m not sure one can really appreciate just how amazing they are unless you try to create tutorials on your own. They are the best of the best at making people feel successful after taking their tutorials. I should know. I’ve created almost as many video tutorials as anyone on the planet, and it’s a big challenge. With all of my experience, I can’t create tutorials as good as Andrew Kramer. I just can’t. And even my best attempts to make art aren’t as beautiful or as cutting edge as his art is. And I don’t have the eye for detail and Photoshop settings that Scott Kelby has.
But I can say that my art is my art, and no one in the history of ever could bring to the table what I do, because no one has experienced what I’ve experienced and reacted the way I’ve reacted. The same goes for you, which is why the world needs your art, not your version of a tutorial that you followed. I leave you with some wise words I once read on a sign in front of a lumber company outside of Disneyland that have stayed with me for years –
You were born an original.
Don’t die a copy.
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