What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I guess my title is what I put on forms when I fill them out—Artist, Author, Teacher.
I spent my years as an Art Director and Creative Director when I was in the advertising industry. Back in the day, my responsibilities were to get the job done. Coming up with the right concept and producing it on deadline. Dealing with clients and giving them what they wanted. Or at least convincing them that what they got is what they wanted, but, the customer is always right and sometimes they got it their way.
“Author” is the fact that I have written many books. I’m proud to say I co-authored the first Photoshop book. I have written parts of many other people’s books. I have written countless magazine articles and had my own column in Photoshop User Magazine that was titled “From Bert’s Studio.”
“Artist” comes first because I would say that it has been my lifelong profession and passion. I did work as an illustrator but it is my personal art that has always been my driving force.
For the past decade, my focus has been on my personal art. No one to answer to nor please. I do what I feel. My work must be a challenge to meet. How can I get an effect or make something look real? It is always a learning process. When I’m done, what I’ve learned along the way I then pass on to others through videos, writings, and live demonstrations. That is where the “Teacher” title comes in.
Teaching others has become my greatest passion. I love to hear the oohs and ahhs from the audience! It tells me that I am reaching them. All I want is to touch at least one person’s creative spirit and inspire them to move on it.
I have served on the faculty of The School of Visual Arts in NYC, California College of Arts & Crafts, San Francisco State University, Center for Creative Imaging in Maine and lectured at universities around the globe. I have also taught at many Corporate HQs that include Pixar Animation, Disney Animations, The New York Times, American Express and a long list of others.
I also have been visiting inner-city high schools for over 30 years where I spend a period or two teaching students tips and tricks. Nowadays I do many schools throughout the country via Skype!
What inspired you most to become a Photographer/Artist?
I guess I have always been an artist. My mother kept the first recognizable drawing that I did when I was two years old. Drawing for me was an escape. It put me in a world where I was in control. My childhood was far from idyllic and drawing helped me survive.
When I was looking for high schools to apply for my teacher said: “you’ve been in trouble your whole life for drawing in school, why don’t you apply to The High School of Art & Design?” I did and majored in Advertising and Illustration giving me my first formal training in the arts.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
From my personal experience and talking with many students, I feel the biggest obstacle is a lack of confidence. Unlike a skill learned to perform a job function, art is personal. It is your talent, your inspiration, your feelings. Looking at other artists work becomes a competition that most feel they cannot win. A criticism of your work can become devastating and again, deeply personal.
I remember when I first took my portfolio in hand and went out to find a job. It was a hard road. Many rejections. Many times did I hear the question “do you have any printed work?” I remember breaking down once and telling the interviewer “How can I get any printed work if no one will give me a job until I have printed work!?” It took determination to go to interview after interview with no results. Many times the thought came to me that maybe I was not cut out for this line of work.
I finally got a job! I gave my old job two weeks notice and trained my replacement. I showed up to that first day of work bright and eager to start my new, desired career. No one was there. I waited. The afternoon of the next day I finally got someone on the phone that informed me that they were very sorry but the ad agency had gone out of business the week before. Was I devastated? DAMN RIGHT! But I went back to pounding the pavement with my portfolio a little more desperate now since I didn’t have a job. I fought my lack of confidence and relied on my determination and finally got a job doing paste-ups in a catalog production studio.
What predictions do you have for the future of Photoshop, Lightroom, and Photography?
The future looks outrageous! When I started in this business artist did work for ads, books, and posters. Today you add gaming, movies, the internet and many more avenues than I have time to list. The world has grown smaller where we can now communicate within seconds with an audience that is worldwide! An audience that may speak a different language but can communicate through visuals created by the artist.
The really exciting new world is Virtual and Augmented Reality! The way we see things have become far greater than anything Science Fiction predicted when I was a kid.
Photoshop, Lightroom and all the other apps out there are the powerful tools that we have at our disposal to create anything our imaginations can conjure up! Every day these tools get more powerful. The only prediction that I can make is that we have no more limits to what our imagination and creativity can achieve. The future is ours and it is here now.
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