Don, Nashville 2009 © Aaron Shapiro
So, a lot of my "thinking time" has been occupied on the differences between an exclusively fine vs. an exclusively commercial artist. The differences are (in my humble opinion) as follows:
1. A fine artist's concern is primarily focused on the message (also read concept), something that is determined by, financed by, and marketed by the artist. Conversely, the commercial artist uses his gift as a means to earn a living. The commercial artist has some say in the message true, but usually there is an art director peeking over his/her shoulder making sure the "message" is in the best interest of the (company, ad campaign, non-profit, what-have-you).
2. The commercial artist's concern is the bottom-line, maybe not exclusively, but they have overhead, they gotta cover their nut essentially. While the fine artist will create their work usually at their own expense (sometimes subsidized by a grant). Once again the fine artist wants total control over their work, not offering any influence to financiers. A commercial artist does their work for someone else, the message in their work is dictated by their clients.
I mean... these are my opinions. I want to be a fine artist. I'm hoping to, and am willing to work another job (hopefully teaching art) in order to finance my work. I have a lot of friends who want to be commercial artists, and that is just as great, as respected, as valued. I guess we all have our preferences. Even commercial artists, once they've gained the respect of the industry their vision is trusted. Think of Avedon, Leibovitz, Schoeller, and Seliger. I doubt (I don't know) but I seriously doubt that an art director breathes down their neck now.
So anyway. That's what I've been thinking recently.