Artists and Photographers: 20 Best Pieces of Advice in 2010

Though we've evolved over the past few years, there's one central theme to My Modern Met that's never changed. By sharing today's best modern day experiences – in art, design and photography – we hope to inspire others to find their own creative spirit. This year we challenged ourselves to go deeper – to not just find the most interesting work out there – but to get to know the people who are leading the way. These are the ones who fearlessly pursue their passion, who've found success in a whole range of different ways. We found out their stories and, at the end of almost every interview, we asked them one question.

What advice would you give to others?

Today, I've compiled 20 of the best answers so that anyone who reads this might take something away from it – be it a small amount of hope or that feeling that someone understands what you're going through. Enjoy.

1. Alexi Lubomirski, Celebrity and Fashion Photographer

I would suggest researching as much as possible. Feed your visual bank by seeing art, movies, books. Anything that inspires you. There are many many people who are trying to be fashion photographers, and you need anything you can get to improve your work and aesthetic to make it different and more appealing than the next person. Also, when you start off, don't be safe. Do tests of the weird ideas you have and get them out of your system. They may lead to better ideas and a style of your own. Everybody can do plain studio, so try and set yourself apart. Finally, talk to as many people in the industry as you can and ask questions. I knocked on about 100 doors before I got the chance to meet (Mario) Testino. [Link]

2. Twin Lens, Photojournalists/Wedding Photographers

For those who want to to pursue a career in photography, business and financial classes are a must. This is something we sorely lacked when launching Twin Lens and knowledge we've come by at a cost. It's important to know the industry, price and cost issues, and the ins-and-outs of running a successful business from a practical standpoint. Don't put it off… JUST DO IT! (you won't be sorry)

There are A MILLION people getting into wedding photography right now, especially due to the influx of photojournalists who have been laid off from their jobs in journalism due to economic woes. Our advice is to find what moves you, and pursue that. There are certain photographic looks and techniques which are being done to death right now, so there is lots of room for innovation and finding one's own vision. Figure out what you're passionate about, what's original about your vision, and go full steam ahead! [Link]

3. Jason Lee, Photographer

Don't be afraid to experiment. Take notes. When you have an idea, jot it down somewhere for later. Practice, practice, practice. Start a 365 project, or at least try to shoot something on a consistent basis. [Link]

4. Brian Bowen Smith, Celebrity Photographer

Check and make sure you have a trust fund before you start. Seriously, just remember it's a long road. Look for your advantages, look for doors to open and bust right in. Don't wait around because you're good. [Link]

5. Archan Nair, Illustrator

To follow your heart, to be absolutely original, and to explore and enjoy what you do. [Link]

6. Brock Davis, Artist

I think it's important to not be afraid to fail. I have a lot of ideas, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. I just keep trying until it works and I learn from the times that it does not. I also think it's good to always be a student. Absorb as much as you can, be a student of art, design and popular culture. [Link]

7. Waldemar Hansson, Fashion Photographer

Look at pictures of the greatest photographers and try to understand why they affect you the way they do. Is it the light? The directing? The location? The colors? The model? The clothes? Whatever it is, be aware! (…you probably want to own this knowledge for tomorrow's shoot). Learn by doing. [Link]

8. Stella Im Hultberg, Artist

For any artist in any genre, I think it's important to really put yourself in it and struggle and work hard, and keep drawing (or painting, sculpting, etc). And not do it for anything else but the love and joy of creating art itself in a manner you believe in – not for money, fame, or even honor. Otherwise it's going to be a tough road, I think! That's my 2. [Link]

9. James Quantz Jr., Commercial Photographer

I would say that you've got to find the style of work that inspires you. Whether it's photography, retouching or digging a ditch, if you're not inspired you will never find the drive to put in the hours it takes to be successful. [Link]

10. Andrew Zuckerman, Portrait Photographer

You have to believe that your vision is just as valid as anyone else's, have faith in that vision, and then approach your own work with rigor. It is the rigor that breeds work of consequence I think. [Link]

11. Sam Flores, Artist

To keep on creating and practicing. We will always be learning till the end. And don't be in any hurry to get somewhere. Enjoy and concentrate on the in-between.That's where all your personal development and skill comes in. Slow and steady… [Link]

12. Heiko Waechter, Street Photographer

I think photography is just like any other art form; it requires a level of dedication and ongoing practice. It can take time to work out your personal style so you have to keep at it. Look at and learn from other photographers that inspire you and be critical of your own work, so you can improve. If you don't feel comfortable by yourself on the street, head out with other photographers. Tap into the online community and find photography groups in your area. Start going down streets you haven't been down before and explore your environment. [Link]

13. Aik Beng Chia, iPhone Photographer

Be it iPhone or other cameras, if you are interested in photography or mobile photography, just shoot! I did not come from a photography background and believe it or not, i don't even know how to shoot with a DSLR camera. The iPhone is the only camera i have with me at all times. Don't get too caught up with how many megapixels your camera must have. At the end of the day, it's just a tool and what really matters most is your eye. How you capture your shot depends on your eye.

I'd like to share this quote from Sion Fullana: “Look around you and fall in love with tiny details.” I always live by this when I'm shooting. There will always be good and bad shots captured by you, so don't fret over it. We still live in an imperfect world. Having said this, remember this quote from EYE'EM: “Let's create something beautiful.. together.” [Link]

14. Gabriel Dawe, Artist

This might sound clich, but I think it is important to stay true to yourself, and never give up. Hard work is the best policy as long as you enjoy what you do, if you don't, what's the point? [Link]

15. Pierre Beteille, Self-Portrait Photographer

The only thing I could say is: Don't try to imitate anyone. Find out first what you want to do, then figure out how to do it, and then work a lot! [Link]

16. Tom Whalen, Illustrator and Designer

Draw. Draw. Draw. Stop. Take a Break. Revisit. Polish. [Link]

17. Greg Schmigel, Street Photographer

Just get out there and capture what you're comfortable capturing with your camera, cell phone or video camera. It doesn't have to be street photography, just find what you like and do it. If you've got the iPhone in your pocket, you've got a camera. [Link]

18. Manu Pombrol, Self-Portrait Photographer

I make sure I always enjoy shooting with my camera, editing, creating new light tricks, post-producing, etc… I'm certain that working this way brings the best results. Having a good mood and a great sense of humour could be the recipe for awesome images…but don't leave your camera batteries at home! [Link]

19. Andrew Smith, Photographer and Designer

Think about what type of images you want to take, keep that in the back of your mind when you are shooting, processing and selecting the final shots. When I take an image I always ask myself “how can I make this into a piece of art or design?” This changes my thinking and lets me see things in a different way. [Link]

20. Jonathan Bartlett, Illustrator

Two things, both very important to me:
– The most important thing to remember is that while art is a passion and love, being an illustrator is a business. You are your own product and to sell yourself you must take the business side of things seriously.

– I am of the opinion that as a unique individual, an artist should be much more focused on what they are trying to say, not how they are saying it. Don't worry about the style or look of the pictures, worry about the content. When you start channeling yourself through the content, the way you express it will follow its natural course. [Link]

We hope you enjoyed our list. To learn more about any of these amazing artists, designers or photographers, just click on the corresponding picture or link.

Thanks to everyone for a fantastic 2010. Here's to an even more inspiring 2011.

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