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I can't believe its not [strike]butter[/strike] photograpy!
May 25, 2007 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Okay, so there's airbrush, and then there's this guy.
posted by Ogre Lawless (57 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"45 Minutes" and "3.5 Hours" are much more compelling than the finished piece, IMO.
posted by Peter H at 10:37 AM on May 25, 2007


... is that referencing how long this site takes to load?

I'm finding that aspect strangely uncompelling.
posted by po at 10:38 AM on May 25, 2007


This is pretty fantastic craft and skill, though. Extremely talented guy.

(on preview - ha, I was going to say something similar)
posted by Peter H at 10:40 AM on May 25, 2007


Vans everywhere ache with envy.
posted by 517 at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


is it really not photography?

AHH, why does it take forever to load???
posted by alona at 10:48 AM on May 25, 2007


Something tells me an ultra-classy t-shirt with some truly AMAZING bazongas is in this guy's closet...
posted by pupdog at 10:49 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


OKAY
posted by prostyle at 10:50 AM on May 25, 2007


Still f-ing loading.
posted by Wonderwoman at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2007


I like how he tries to split hairs between photorealism and photography.

From TFA
"The reason photography does not qualify as art is that the process removes the filter of the human mind as an interpretative element. Although photography requires technical skill, in the final analysis it is only a mechanical recording of reality."

The human mind is not involved as an interpretive element in photography?

This guy clearly has no understanding of the choices that go into photography, in terms of subject design, set design and posing, exposure selection, framing, and post-processing, among other things.

However, I do respect his skill, and the amount of time and work he put into this.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2007


Fine hair is created using my shield-reveal technique, and my split frisket technique.

Okay, that just sounds nasty.

The reason photography does not qualify as art is that the process removes the filter of the human mind as an interpretative element. Although photography requires technical skill, in the final analysis it is only a mechanical recording of reality.

I could have a long argument with him about this. Many photographers would remind him that the mind of the photographer adds the borders and thus controls the content, composition and reality. But honestly, I'm very impressed with his technique and skill so I'll merely back away before he uses his split frisket technique on me.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:01 AM on May 25, 2007


Beat to the punch!
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2007


I call bullshit.
posted by unSane at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


When the images take ages to load, we are left with

- description of Dru's process (cool)
- self-justification and concomitant denigration of photography as art (not cool)

From the page:

Art: (my definition)

Art is the selective re-creation or conversion of reality by the human mind into concrete imagery according to an artist's metaphysical value judgments. Real or imagined concepts are filtered and altered through the human mind to the artist's hand to create an image or sound that did not exist before. The reason photography does not qualify as art is that the process removes the filter of the human mind as an interpretative element. Although photography requires technical skill, in the final analysis it is only a mechanical recording of reality.


...Because photographers simply record every image they are physically capable of taking, and always aim to recreate with absolute precision the appearance of their subjects. Goodness knows I've never seen somebody play with exposure, or fudge with the developing process, or hand-color prints, or otherwise interpret. Photographers are all just drones with digicams. Riiiight.

Not that I don't admire his skills -- I don't think I'm much further along than a second or third grade level as far as manual arts go -- but why he can't acknowledge that there's ample room in the world of art for folks using any number of tools is kind of beyond me. I'll acknowledge his stuff as more than craft if he lays off of photographers :)

On preview: cheers, yeolcoatl.
posted by lumensimus at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2007


> The reason photography does not qualify as art is
> that the process removes the filter of the human
> mind as an interpretative element. Although
> photography requires technical skill, in the final
> analysis it is only a mechanical recording of reality.

I could have a long argument with him about this.


I could have a very short argument with him about this. It would go: "Here's a camera. Please produce high quality photography with mechanical skill only. Do not make any artistic decisions."
posted by rusty at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Coral cache.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:08 AM on May 25, 2007


His denigration of photography comes from an honest place, I think (not that I agree with it). You don't get to a level of painting accumen such as this man has without hours and hours spent dilligently working in the studio. For someone to come along and spend a few seconds* taking a snapshot of the same thing you just spend three weeks laboriously painting seems somehow unfair.

That said, if you were going to spend hours and hours slaving away at a painting in an attempt to make it look like a photograph, you think you'd choose a little more interesting subject matter.

Mad props to the guy for his skills, not so much for his aesthetic choices





*Yes, I'm aware that there's more to photography than that, but you see my point.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:12 AM on May 25, 2007


The guy is very technically adept -- it's pretty amazing that that is not a photograph.

However, by his boneheaded and illogical ideas on photography, his photo-realistic paintings are not art either. So there.

I'll tell you what -- you get two people to agree on what the term "art" really means, and then I'll give a shit about your denigrations of one particular medium or another, or one art form or another.

But his ability to mimic reality with paint is truly amazing. If not artistic. ;-)
posted by teece at 11:15 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Furthermore, it's a little short-sighted to require that art have a concrete object. I've been very surprised in the past to find out how much I like simple geometric stuff -- I recall one piece at the Carnegie Museum (by whom, I can't remember) that was an orange triangle that almost (but not quite) closed at the top. Blew my mind! After all, triangles are supposed to close. Almost musically disonnant, that.

On rereading his idea, it makes even less sense:

Art is the selective re-creation or conversion of reality by the human mind into concrete imagery... Real or imagined concepts are filtered and altered through the human mind...

So artists recreate or convert reality, or deal with imagined concepts? Tight reasoning.

That being said, this guy isn't a philosopher, and it does feel unfair criticizing him as such. Still.
posted by lumensimus at 11:15 AM on May 25, 2007


I was all set to be impressed, but then (as noticed on preview) he pissed all over photography. His complete and utter lack of understanding is staggering. Indeed, even the most mundane photograph displays more life and spontaneity than his flat, heavy-handed recordings of photographs.
In order to provide the best reference for my students, I took a digital photograph in my studio of a local model (Tica) with my Nikon Coolpix 8700.
In short, his work amounts to painstaking reproductions of the photographic process. He argues that the camera removes the human mind as the interpretive element and yet he's using a camera to interpret the scene.

The emperor isn't wearing any clothes! Ogre Lawless can't believe it's not photography because, ultimately, it is photography.

For photo-realism that amounts to something more than what this hack is producing, check out Chuck Close.
posted by aladfar at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2007


Yeah, it's a pretty amazing level of skill. Though as others have said, if that is going to be the subject matter, I'd prefer a photo. Take your phenomenal talent and give us a photo-realistic image of something we can't take a picture of.
posted by quin at 11:23 AM on May 25, 2007


wtf
posted by zouhair at 11:24 AM on May 25, 2007


This guy clearly has no understanding of the choices that go into photography, in terms of subject design, set design and posing, exposure selection, framing, and post-processing, among other things.

Such as lighting design, shutter speed, depth of field and focus, film speed (if shot on film), etc. He's really just making the distinction to make his own work seem more important than it really is.

Sure his technical ability is amazing, but he totally contradicts himself. He points out all the painstaking elements of photorealism, concluding that if "any of these elements are amiss, the painting will fail as a photorealistic image." But then in the next paragraph, his definition of art requires filtering reality to "create an image or sound that did not exist before". Well if your work is virtually indistinguishable from a photograph, then what's the point? Raw technical ability does not make an artist. This guy is like those guitar virtuosos that can play literally anything, but get boring after 30 seconds.
posted by ChestnutMonkey at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2007


My wife had a roommate who took "art" in university who produced works like a set of used tampons coated in beeswax... to her, this guy would be an "artisan" and not an "artist" because his work has no deeper social meaning.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... your definition of art sucks.
posted by GuyZero at 11:27 AM on May 25, 2007


I was really disappointed to learn that the guy in the Sturgis/Harley t-shirt on the left isn't the one spending all of this time and attention on detailed meticulous photorealism. I'm left with hoping he's Tica's boyfriend.
posted by Killick at 11:30 AM on May 25, 2007


You don't get to a level of painting accumen such as this man has without hours and hours spent dilligently working in the studio. For someone to come along and spend a few seconds* taking a snapshot of the same thing you just spend three weeks laboriously painting seems somehow unfair.

Yeh, I always feel like a total jerk when I beat that guy with the abacus to the punch with the calculator on my phone. He yells unfair, too.
posted by bonaldi at 11:43 AM on May 25, 2007


Yeah, it's a pretty amazing level of skill. Though as others have said, if that is going to be the subject matter, I'd prefer a photo. Take your phenomenal talent and give us a photo-realistic image of something we can't take a picture of.

Ah, but therein lies the real irony.

He couldn't do this without a photograph.
posted by teece at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The skill is amazing. As for denigration of photography as an "Art" I think people are over reacting to that. There are lots of definitions of "art" and all resonably valid. The fact that yours dosn't mesh with his dosn't make him "ignorant"
posted by delmoi at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2007


That's not real, it's all airbrush.
posted by humannaire at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2007


It's strangely impressive and meh all at the same time. At least the half-pictures I saw. I quit trying to load the page after ten minutes and a cigarette break.
posted by slogger at 12:13 PM on May 25, 2007


He couldn't do this without a photograph.

I'm not really sure of that...
posted by delmoi at 12:15 PM on May 25, 2007


On the other hand, the rest of the "art" on his site is really hedious, and could probably be whipped up from clip-art in a few minutes. Kind of sad that someone can have so much skill and so little taste.
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2007


"so much skill and so little taste" is really the crux of it. What a boring fucking painting. Isn't his "mechanical" and unimaginative rendering not art by the same metric that he uses to dismiss photography? Its is all of course assuming that it is even actually air brushing.
posted by nihlton at 12:38 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


The ancient Greeks didn't even have a word for art. They called it "techne" (which came down to us as "technique"). They considered it all craftsmenship, and thus avoided these quasi-religious battles entirely. ;)
posted by RavinDave at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2007


Does anybody else think this might be a hoax? I could produce all of his step images in Photoshop from the original "finished" image. The fact that she's on a white background is also a little suspicious. In any case, it really is a boring piece, no matter how it was produced.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:52 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


rusty writes 'I could have a very short argument with him about this. It would go: "Here's a camera. Please produce high quality photography with mechanical skill only. Do not make any artistic decisions.'

High quality photography doesn't necessarily qualify as art either. Great art has often been made using poor quality photography and what seemed at the time to be extremely dubious aesthetic choices. See, for some recent high profile examples, the works of Sarah Lucas.

Ultimately, the only thing that divides art from craft or technique is the subjective intention of the artist. Whether the product of these endeavours have any aesthetic or lasting value is a seperate issue.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on May 25, 2007


A hoax? Dru's not just your average airhead; he's been a top-flight icon in the community for years. Besides the classes he teaches there are hundreds or articles, photos and videos displaying his techniques.

The "suspicious" white background is probably Crescent board, which most illustrators prefer because of its durability and capacity to endure a variety of traditional techniques. It takes paint like a charm, dries fast, handles frisket and abrasive methods exceptionally well.
posted by RavinDave at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2007


"I do this thing and it's art!" = okay, it's art.
"This thing I do means your thing isn't art!" = pretentious fuckwit.
posted by cmyk at 1:04 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Does anybody else think this might be a hoax?

I thought it was real (and impressive, even though the guy's arrogance kind of ruined the fun) until I got to the close-up of the skin texture... Then I thought it was a hoax.
posted by amyms at 1:05 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yep, hoax.
posted by bshort at 1:19 PM on May 25, 2007


I used to be an illustrator in a previous life, and I occasionally worked realistically in airbrush and I do appreciate this guys' skill. I'm certain it's not a hoax, but his aesthetic philosophy is indeed as full of crap as has been stated. Teece is right, you cannot do this without using photography and I'll spill some professional secrets and say he's probably going even further than that and doing a lot of tracing and projecting. That was par for the course with 1980's photorealism, and the precision of the image (as well as the tight drawing without any correction) tell me he's likely doing it as well. It's excellent craft, but if you want art I second the opinion to check out Chuck Close.
posted by Mcable at 1:43 PM on May 25, 2007


I dunno, man. Whenever I've seen art that's heralded either predominately or (in this case) solely on the merit of how it was created and not what the end result is - I find myself wholly unimpressed.

Like those surrealistic paint daub portraits that look like something your 5-year old might paint in kindergarten, then someone comes by and says "ya know - the guy pained it with his FEET!" - I think "okay, and his feet suck at painting".

Oh, and what quin said
posted by revmitcz at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2007


Well, quin said: "Take your phenomenal talent and give us a photo-realistic image of something we can't take a picture of."

First, this was a more of a proof of concept project used for a workshop and written up in "AirbrushAction" magazine, so we can't really ding him on that score. Moreover, much of his earlier work (he was big into military aircraft) do exactly as quin wished -- displayed images that could not really be photographed. (He mentions that on his eternally-loading website).
posted by RavinDave at 2:59 PM on May 25, 2007


He couldn't do this without a photograph.

I'm not really sure of that...


I'm not much of an artist, but I do draw, delmoi. I also photograph.

If insane photo-realism is your goal, as is obviously the case with this guy, you must draw what you see. You can't draw from memory -- you'll fuck it up, invariably. His estimate was something like 60-70 hours to get this thing drawn.

The only way to do that without a photograph would be to have the model stand there for 60-70 hours. Which would sort of be doable, but not very likely. But, I also strongly suspect that Mcable is right, and that there's more than just him eying the subject going on here: tracing, projecting, gridding, etc. If he can freehand something that accurate without the help of anything like a grid or a trace, then he is a complete freak of nature.

So I really think it would be impossible to do this without a photograph, practically at least. And he is so good at doing what he does, his result is, for all intents and purposes, a photograph.

And ironically, photographs are not art to him. So he spent 70 hours doing by hand what I could do in 1/60 of a second with my dSLR. And neither of us are apparently artists, so I sure win on efficiency.
posted by teece at 3:09 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Moreover, much of his earlier work (he was big into military aircraft) do exactly as quin wished -- displayed images that could not really be photographed.

Fair enough. I missed it because I was unwilling to give more than 10 minutes to letting his page load before I gave up.

I guess part of my frustration with this kind of art comes from having worked in a gallery and selling works from artists like Carl Brenders, who's photo realistic stuff was always amazing. When you see what someone with the talent is capable of, it's disappointing to see them waisting it on generic portraits.
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on May 25, 2007


Of course he used a reference photo. He makes no secret of that (it's mentioned on the web page). But he was not slavishly reproducing it. "This painting of Tica is not just a copy of a photograph, but is a product of many artistic decisions, whereas I deviated from the reference photo for more aesthetic appeal.
posted by RavinDave at 3:23 PM on May 25, 2007


quin ... check out the late Kent Bellows. I knew him (VERY briefly) and saw his stuff. I honestly would put his graphite draftsmanship (esp. circa 1980's) up against ANYONE in history.

Particularly ... check out this maddeningly complex lithograph. I've gazed at it for hours and never saw the tiniest flaw.
posted by RavinDave at 3:32 PM on May 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


That is some seriously amazing work RavinDave. When I clicked on the litho you linked my first thought was "Ok, it's a photo of some trees..." before my brain caught up a second later to remind my why you had linked to it.

I'm going to have to dedicate some quality time getting to know this artist.
posted by quin at 3:52 PM on May 25, 2007


Of course he used a reference photo. He makes no secret of that

Right, not at all saying he is hiding that. I would use a reference photo, too.

I just wouldn't call the photographer a non-artist. It's a little too ironic for me to have a guy that makes such photo-realistic paintings claiming photography is not art.

Does not compute.
posted by teece at 4:14 PM on May 25, 2007


Art Perception is the selective re-creation or conversion of reality by the human mind into concrete imagery mental states according to an artist's perceiver's metaphysical value judgments.

There. Photography is an art again. And so is what this guy does. I enjoy photography more, but YMMV.
posted by pgautier at 5:04 PM on May 25, 2007


This guy is awesome. I am sorry that he thought he needed to denigrate photography to explain why he is hot. I don't understand the motive. I'm defensive, you're defensive, that guy over there is defensive, but that is because we, though special in our own ways, have not actually made some unquestionably awesome thing. I want to rewrite his website:

I'm Dru Blair.
I made this.
For sales inquiries, technical questions, homage or requests for semen, email me at drublair@drublair.com.
Suck it h8rs.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:58 PM on May 25, 2007


These are the sort of paintings I would have created as a 12 year old, were I suddenly gifted with near-infinite technical skill.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:31 AM on May 26, 2007


Maybe Dru's dismissal of photography as an art form is reaction to having his style constantly mocked as sterile and unimportant. I know in my college art department, representationism was greeted with rolled-eyes and condescension -- generally by people who couldn't draw flies with a palette of shit.
posted by RavinDave at 4:46 AM on May 26, 2007


I'm going on record that this is a hoax. You can't do crap like this with an exacto knife, and any human being who actually goes to the trouble of learning how to paint learns the power of not being exact. Go back to the airbrush work in the first link and look again (what is with the loading times by the way it's atrocious) and see the significant difference.

Art doesn't just imitate reality. It accentuates it. It distorts it. Improves upon it. Accentuates the positive and delineates the negative, or perhaps just as often it does the opposite.

Whether you use a paintbrush or a camera, the above statement holds true. They're different mediums but they approach art aiming for similar goals. You don't want just reality. You want hyper-reality. You want to make the viewer feel something.

Why make a painting that looks just like a photograph? That doesn't really make one feel anything, other than confused.

It's like driving a car on train tracks. Sure you CAN do it, but most people DON'T. Why? Cuz contrary to popular belief, most people aren't fucking stupid.

Now granted, one can argue that some people might learn to make paintings identical to a photograph for the simple ability of saying they did it, just as mountain climbers take extreme risks of life and limb to climb to the top when a helicopter ride woulda done the job with less hassle. Would I call them stupid? Well, yes I would but there is something to be said for setting a goal for oneself and doing it, knowing the odds and respecting the journey.

With that said, this guy in the second link didn't paint that picture. He tweaked a photo and tried to make it look like it had been painted.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:16 PM on May 26, 2007


ZachsMind: Go back to the airbrush work in the first link and look again and see the significant difference.

Off the top of my head, I'd say the first guy was using a $40 dollar Paasche airbrush and working on textile while Dru was using a $600 Iwata Micron on Illustration Board.

Of course it isn't a hoax. Dru's been a legend for a couple decades.
posted by RavinDave at 9:33 PM on May 26, 2007


just as mountain climbers take extreme risks of life and limb to climb to the top when a helicopter ride woulda done the job with less hassle.

You actually can't take a helicopter to the top of really big mountains -- K2, Everest, the bird loses lift. You really have to climb to the top of those. ;-P

But in any event, I don't think this is a hoax. I think the artisanship is amazing.

The art? Not so much. But it's cool; if we all were this good at something, the world would be a more interesting place.
posted by teece at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2007


Kinda funny -- that first link. The site is so paranoid that you'll steal their images that they slap a watermark on'em -- yet I sincerely doubt that Tom Cruise and Marilyn Monroe's estate granted them rights to market those likenesses.
posted by RavinDave at 5:02 AM on May 27, 2007


From the article:
Despite my best efforts, my own unconscious stylization creeps into all of my work, and it is a struggle to keep it subdued.

He should quit struggling. He seems to actually be attempting forgery by the most difficult means. He even reproduced the purple fringing around the earrings; I understand and welcome imperfection, but sure he could have actually imagined one more interesting that the one of the worse (and ugliest) traits of digicams.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:00 AM on May 28, 2007


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