Originally Posted by iLoveGreenDragon
Anyways, words can only say so much and to me are not really a vision. A concept artist is really the visionary, if you say I want a space ship interior with aliens and give specific details, they are just words. Unless you are working from an even more basic concept reference, which is still concept art.
I think there are exceptions though, we can't be so bold to say it's one specific way or the other, it probably goes both ways. For example dylan cole's role in bioluminescence and the whole art direction for avatar seems to be extending from his vision. The one who told him "I want glowing alien plant life in a beautiful nature scene" is not the visionary. Thats just a brief description. At least in dylan's avatar section on his site he made it seem like he played a large role in the overall style.
So concept artists are visionaries in their own respect, but contradictorily I also agree to have ultimate complete control over the vision you can only really achieve that on your own personal project.
Believe it or not, even famous concept artists disagree with you. The people who create the stories, doing the world-building, structuring the plot, breathing life into the characters with descriptions and dialogues, etc are the visionaries. Read any major landmark sci-fi/fantasy novels from the past and you'll see how much influence they had/have. Feng Zhu, one of the leading concept artists in the world, said publicly in one of his videos that the best source for building one's visual library as a concept artist is to read novels. To say that "words can only say so much" is to completely disrespect the power of words and storytelling, which is the root of of all imaginative works. How imaginative and creative do you think all your favorite concept artists would be if they didn't grow up reading novels and comics and watching movies/animation--all of which had to originate from the creative vision of a creator/writer?
The concept artists cater everything they do towards the will of the storytellers (the writers, directors, game designers). When you read novels and screenplays, the good ones make you see a rich, detailed world in your mind's eye through the descriptions, and the job of the concept artist is to translate that into the visual representation so production artists can build assets out of them to be used in the film, TV show, or video game. Yes, concept artist do contribute their own creativity and add to the descriptions they're given, but they are not the ones calling the shots or the ones who did the world-building--it's the creator/writer/director/game designer that came up with the premise, and they dictate what concept artists will do. You talk to any concept artist and ask them what should be king in any project with a narrative, and they'll tell you "The story is always the king." Without the visionary behind the story, the characters, and the world-building, concept artists would have nothing to work on. Even projects that aren't heavy on story (such as some MMO's) there would still need to be enough world-building by the creator/writer for concept artists to begin work.
Now, I'm talking about mainly concept artists working in entertainment. In the world of industrial design things can be different, but even then, the designer has to work with a set parameter of requirements and rules and feature sets--it's not as if the designer one day woke up and just came up with a revolutionary technology/invention. It's the scientists and inventors that are the real visionaries--the designers help the inventors bring their ideas to life.
I think maybe you're confusing certain aspects of this discussion because you have aspirations to be a creator/writer as well as a concept artist, and you're kind of mixing them up because they are somewhat intertwined in your own projects. But if you separate each discipline logically, you'll see that it's always the storytelling that matters the most--everything else is there to serve the story.
Almost without exception, projects that have great visuals but horrible storytelling, uninspired premise, or lackluster gameplay don't fare well with critics or fans. There are some exceptions, but they are few and far between. Also, if you look at all the successful and critically acclaimed works out there in film, TV, games, or even in toys, the creative visionaries who came up with the ideas for them were not the concept artists. The concept artists were hired workers that were brought into the projects to work on the ideas that the actual creative visionaries came up with.
Creative projects exist because of the creators/writers/directors/game designers, not because of the concept artists. When was the last time you heard in any promo that said, "From the concept artists that brought you Toy Story/Star Wars/The Hunger Games/Harry Potter/Star Trek, comes a new adventure," or "The critics are calling the latest film/TV show/game by concept artist(s) so-and-so a triumph and instant classic."?
None of this is meant to downplay the contribution of concept artists--I'm simply stating things as they are. I love concept artists as much as anyone else, and in fact, one of my biggest influences as both an artist and as a human being is Craig Mullins, one of the most beloved concept artists working today (his presence and teachings at Sijun Forums during the early years had a huge impact on me).