Lesson from Peter Max

  • I was reading some of the forum posts regarding style and I was reminded of a quick story.

    I do a radio show and we have interviewed artist Peter Max on several occasions. (Please know that this is not an attempt to "name drop.") He told us that early in his career he was having difficulty getting work as an artist. He carried his portfolio from one art director to the next, showed them what he believed was his best work, and was told "Thanks, but no thanks."

    Then, one day, one of the art directors noticed some artwork in his portfolio case that looked different from the rest. Peter didn't really want to show that piece because it was his "fun stuff" (the style he became famous for).

    Long story short, the art director loved it.

    The "life work" of most artists shows brilliance early in their lives but that brilliance looks very similar to artwork that is already out there. Then, after years of developing their craft, an artist will discover a style that is uniquely their own. That is usually the breaking point.

    Picasso, Dali, and a lot of contemporary artists and illustrators have had similar experiences.

    But the BEST PART of this seems to be that the style that becomes "their own" is ALWAYS the style they are most comfortable with. So, the lesson from Peter Max (and others) is to keep feeling your way around. You will eventually slide into a groove that seems to fit you best.

    So many of you are so very talented. Just keep on keepin' on.

  • @larry-whitler Thanks for this

  • @larry-whitler There's a story about the composer John Cage, that early in his career he was studying under the famous composer Schoenberg, he was late to a meeting and his mentor berated him saying he had no sense of time or melody for that matter." Fine " he said then my music will not be about time or melody. He went on of course to change music forever. I think there's a lesson there for all artist , find what you do well, usually that will be what you love to do,in the beginning copying other styles is a great way to learn but at some point you have to give up looking around trying to do what's in style , what's selling, and find your own voice. Each of use are unique, Chris