Process Or Product?

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  04 April 2005
Process Or Product?

I've been reading an awful lot in these forums lately, drinking in the views, knowledge and opinions of my fellow artisans with reckless abandon. The web is such a fantastic and culturally unprecedented catalyst for the kind of gathering of souls and minds I find here. I am continually fascinated by the idea of so many artists in one place sharing the very core beliefs and philosophies which make us artists, our thoughts and emotions. I thank God that I have found this "creative Shangri la." I encourage you all to stop for just one moment in the frenetic pace of surfing the web and consider the cultural significance of this type of gathering. Never in all of history has there been such a pool of amazing talent in one place. The implications are stunning. Yet, I digress.

The aspect of creativity, regardless of the form of delivery (ergo, the medium), which has always seemed the most important is, to put it bluntly, the process not the product. That is to say, the process by which one accomplishes an interpretation of an idea - and executes it - is much more interesting and of greater importance than the actual end result. Please do not misunderstand me; I do not mean to belittle the fantastic works I have seen here by referring to them as product. I do not mean product in a commercial sense, but a procedural one. Nor do I wish to demean finished art in any way. A finished work is the culmination of tremendous effort and the execution of talent and will. What I am trying to stress is the execution...the process.

This observation has been a lifelong one for me, but it has become more so since finding this site. It appears that I am not alone in my fascination with the "process" of creativity. By process I refer to the combination of effort, style, creativity, medium of delivery, struggle, internal strife, etc. that one must go through in order to create a work of art. This process has always been, for me, the most interesting aspect of art, and I submit the question to you all, fellow artists: WHAT INTERESTS YOU MORE, THE PROCESS OR THE PRODUCT?

Let us take Picasso, for example. In a recent post, member Kargokultti made a variety of comments concerning his work and career as an artist which prompted me to write this post. While I do not mention that post to agree or disagree on it, there are elements within it that fall into line with my disposition towards Picasso. There is no doubt that he is famous, or that he had a certain amount of creative genius. But in all honesty, his work is horrible, and poorly executed. Yet he was a brilliant artist and among the masters. The discerning factor that places him in such a position is HIS PROCESS. While it is difficult to place his work on the same level as, say, Raphael or Rembrandt (from a technical standpoint) his genius lay in his rejection of past method and genre and his embrace of a new form of expression. Jackson Pollock is another great example. His work is simply splattered paint drippings, seemingly tossed at random onto canvas. Yet his process - his internal struggle with his own demons, his striving towards some new form of release which would satisfy his internal muse - is what made him famous. A third and more definitive example would be Van Gogh. If ever an artist embodied the philosophy of process over product, it is he. His product, however, is perhaps more masterful than the others. I love his work.

It is the process, dear brothers and sisters, which seems to be the mutually prevailing struggle here among us on CGTalk. One must only look to the posts to see of that which I speak. "How do you make hair in Maya?" "Can anyone help me with a Tutorial on making a bloody wound look real?" "Need help with a new plugin script." The list goes on and on. Even when we have finished a piece, we submit it to the countless critical eyes of our peers, still seeking refinement of PROCESS. Indeed, in the medium of 3D, the process has been extended to innumerable levels from a technical standpoint. I am forced to wonder that, in focusing so much on methodology and technique, if we lose some of the other critical and more traditional elements necessary to produce a work (i.e. - vision, concept, emotion, layout, etc.)

Perhaps I am misguided and mistaken. While impressed by the unbelievable skills I see exhibited here, I am more impressed, and have always been, by the process by which the artists arrive at the end result. Is not one of your first thoughts, upon seeing a brilliant new work by Meats, to exclaim, "How did he DO that?" What technique is used? What methods? What tools? What internal struggle? What small piece of himself did he have to dig down into himself and pull out at 3am to accomplish that? That is the process, and however great the work, it is a greater aspect than the final result.

I rest my case, but would LOVE to hear what the many of you out there have to say on this concept.

What is YOUR process? That's what I want to know. I think we all want to know. That's why we're here.
~ Where science and technology fail, art survives ~
  04 April 2005
Not one comment? Not one idea? Nothing? C'mon, people. Work with me here. Even if it's just to tell me to clam up.

Man, indifference is the worst form of critisizm.
~ Where science and technology fail, art survives ~
  04 April 2005
Winston-Salem? My gawd... I thought I was the only schizo here from those parts!
Back to the question...

I am going to go with the product. Yes, the methods behind the "making of" have me guessing, but it's not what causes my awe and/or emotional state. Take for example HR Giger. His design for Alien fascinates me, whether by acrylic, polyster mold, puppet, 2D, or 3D... it wouldn't have by what means he created it, because the concept, design, the imagination is the true product that I seek. Let me see what's lurking in your head or in your heart and you'll inspire my life, and cause an awe-struck emotion in my demeanor.

I don't care if you mold a turd into David or paint the Sistine with your flesh, as long as the imaginative concept touches me (in a non-opinionated way).

  04 April 2005
For me, as a longtime doodler, shortime multimedia student, the process is very much more important. I wouldn't call myself a real artist (yet), but i have the urge to want to learn. Anything. Be it drawing, 3d, video, programming, etc.

But to be able to expand what I already know, I need to enhance the way I see things. I have to change the way I think. At that point the end result is merely a container for techniques. If you want to know how to draw a person, there's no other way than to actually draw one; If you want to know how to model a car, you model a car. But at that moment the kind of person you draw, or the brand of car you model is totally irrelevant.

On a professional level the product is more important though.

In brief: When you want to learn and explore yourself, the process is more important. When you're on a deadline the product wins.
  04 April 2005
I definitely think the "internal struggle" part of the process is the most interesting one when it comes to art and design and such. On a professional level though, I must confess that bling is not a bad thing. But what I always return to in terms of personal interest (what keeps me awake at night), is the eternal question:what decisions were there, why does it look like that, and what inspired or led up to this surface/line/spaceship/wrinkle here?

I am myself indeed in the middle of a process which has been a devilish tango of deeper and deeper revelations, ranging from the depths of semiotics to the pure joy in art, and of course the gentle art of bullshit. It is very demanding, and that is why I failed the report. But it still fascinates me how easy and free of turbulence it seems when some people here at CGtalk come up with something truly bewildering. How come? Why are some people able to get hands on with a project from the very beginning, while others plan and ponder for months before gripping the pen? It, as I said, keeps me up at night.

The result on the other hand, seems for me to come at a time when the soul is weary of the theme, and has lost interest, so there is an anticlimax.

Don't know if it is the kind of answer you were looking for, but hey, I'm cool with that. Destroy, erase improve's got to go with threads in forums too, eh?
  04 April 2005
Allthough I doubt I'll be able to describe my thoughts on this as elaborate and accurately as you have I would like to comment.

When I at first started out I had lots of "visions" on what wanted to create. I would daydream in class and at home and one day I couldn't stop myself and decided to just try and make it. As it turns out the process of actually doing it, making it for real, turned the visions into something entirely new just because I had started making them. I was seeing new things in the few lines I had put down and I've often found that I was even starting to make things of a purely therapuetic nature. This indeed has been fascinating me and even frustrating me too.

In highschool things went nuts for me and I went completely a,bivalent on all my endeavours. But somehow I wanted to grow again and this brought me to look for fantastic things, ie. art that is not necessarily a copy of the perceived world. At this point I was inspired again to crystallise my "visions" again. After some thinking, if that's what it's called, I became rather anxious to get these images out of me and into some form or another. This brought me inevitably back to the need to focus on the process of creation. But my eventual state of mind is to get it into it's form. This is all concerning the technical aspects of creation, the how do I do this side.

On the other hand struccling with myself has brought me to anothre process, the internal process. Why can I sometimes make something or envision something? It's like fire in the end, if you don't treat it with respect it will burn your hands.
This inevitably led to spiritual searching and I still find myself there, fascinated by spiritual things. And they are driving me now to make my things take shape. Most meaningful art deals with something rather abstract; emotion, mystery, otherworldly things and the supernatural even in some ways.
To me the latter is the most fascinating and interesting, As is the eventual outcome. One does not outweigh the other for me, they simply hold the same thing in place. The technical side I can always relearn. New technologies will make new things possible and bring nwe chalenges and problems. But they can relatively easily be overcome. The spiritual and the eventual seem to me the thing that both equally matter.

Very interesting idea you put forth. I noticed a similar thing on evolutions of individual artforms and especially films and cg combined. The human world seems to be waking up to itself, rather interesting and exilerating.
modelling practice #1
  04 April 2005
The joy is in the doing?

I wish I could say it always was, but to be honest I find a lot of the art process quite tedious, and it seems that the path to creating a product is even more elliptical in 3D CG than in other mediums.

So maybe I am tilting at your question from a different angle, but I wonder how people sustain the artist's internal struggle and vision when UV mapping? Is it a coincidence that the three artists you mentioned all have what might be called a loose or freer style? Personally I enjoy myself more when scribbling with a pencil than when pushing vertices and it seems that I am my most excited in a CG project when I am planning it and working through ideas.

And then it's always nice to finish a project and have people enjoy it.
  04 April 2005
Both, process and product. Usually what a artist makes and what he originally intended to make are two different things, er at least for me. So in that respect a lot of creative decisions are make in the process while the product takes shape. I've always called it the creative process. In some repects thats the only way we can do things unless are imagination of something is as real as the final product then maybe is will be different. That's way creations is such a layered process, many of the ideas need to work out from the base level up. The decisions we make during our process to product effort help teach us through trial and error what is good. and we get to decide for ourself what is good and descriminate accordingly because for most to all the decisions that are made are made by the creator. In the end through a hit and miss trials we slowly develop our artistic eye.

The thing that facinates me the most about art is that people can collectively decide what is good or bad art. Thinking about this phemonenon is what blows my mind.

Picaso, my opinion on him was that he freed up art so that we could be more creative, making creativity more socially acceptable. Historicly his art is important because of that.

All of this is just my opinion.

Last edited by tAstyBITs : 04 April 2005 at 02:45 AM.
  04 April 2005
Good points Tasty. Another nice part of the process are the happy mistakes, the uncontrolled brushstroke or unintended blend of colours, that add, rather than detract, from a work.
  04 April 2005
I was reading a bit about Normal Rockwell and he mentioned that when you get these kind of mistakes you should get down on your hands and knee's and thank god. hehe. I'm not that religious but I know what he was getting at.
  04 April 2005

Well articulated. It is process. And "process" differs for everyone, just slightly. We ask "Where do I get off on this ride for meaning and artistry?"

Do we have a kind of "barometer of excellence" with which we measure our work as we do it? Hundreds and thousands of tests, happening all the time, looking for that "something", that "aesthetic event". When something works. Whatever number of tests you did on it at that moment, it came out on top. It's this "aesthetic event" that interests me. What is the landscape of that process? How is it familiar? does it seem to strangely find it's mark in Jackson Pollock and Picasso and Hokusai and Turner, etc? None of them are alike, but they have all, a kind of "continuity" which seems to be about practice, process, and dealing with the artwork in the world.
It's real sun out there
  04 April 2005
For me process and product are interlocked. Done illustrating for years but when the full realization of what 3D could do hit me I chucked away my brushes. But that's both process and product right. 3D interested me because my paintings could live, but an animation is the end product.

When I look at an artwork that is impressive I am not thinking about how it was done, I don't care if the artist used shag hair or ornatrix,... what I care about is how the light hits it and from where,..... what is it that makes me want to look at it? I can always find a tool to apply the process.

The process gives me the most pleasure, the product is great for exactly 10 minutes,... wow did I make that? A great 10 minutes though!
The terminal velocity of individual particles is directly related to pink rabbits on a bank holiday.
Characters, Games, Toys
  04 April 2005
Hehe, member Kargokultti... Nice to be noticed.

My products are all mostly processes. I think it's a sort of a backlash from school. I used to
finish things in two hours' time, now I have an animation I've been working on for the last four
years (will be probably less than 3 minutes long when finished) and a Wacom painting I've
poked around for months now. And a lot of other unfinished business.

So, having no products, I'd say they matter, big time. Not having anything to show feels like
you don't really exist as an artist. And truth to be told, you don't.
  04 April 2005
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