#21 Do You Have a Medium?

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016
This week’s episode is a barrel of questions and curiosity. I spin myself in a circle when I realize that I might not actually have a single medium that I can call “home”. Is that a problem or is that a requirement of being a creative person in the modern era? Or has it always been like this and folks just get known for one of the many kinds of things that they do?Originally posted on monsterjavaguns.com.

Show Notes

This week’s episode is a barrel of questions and curiosity. I spin myself in a circle when I realize that I might not actually have a single medium that I can call “home”. Is that a problem or is that a requirement of being a creative person in the modern era? Or has it always been like this and folks just get known for one of the many kinds of things that they do?

I think I have an answer to this… at least for myself. However, I’m really interested in you. Do you have a medium that you think of as your medium, or do you split your focus across more than one creative outlet? How do you keep focus? How do you maintain balance? Do you actively do any of that at all, or do you just let the chips fall where they may?

7 Archived Comments

dave hingley, Nov 30, 2016

Hey Jason,

I think of my self as an artist. I trained as an animator and we were encouraged to think of ourselves as such but the idea that an artist is married to a specific media is not really valid. Some painters also made sculpture ( degas carved ballerinas. Dali made one of his elephants, magrite had his readymades, Warhol made sculptures and films) musicians like David Bowie also painted as well as actors like Sylvester Stalone who have also written screen plays and directed. I think as artists we should be open to opportunity to try new ways of making things, in many ways we love the process of creating, rather than the product that’s created

If I only animated, and made animation the way I should make animation either with flash or toonboom or 3d in maya, I don’t think I would be able to make that much work, maybe a short film every year?

My Fiance is heavily into amateur theatre and as a result I have been asked to help on a number of projects. This has resulted in me being in demand by other groups

that has in turn lead to some paid illustration work. In the past year I did animation work for a production of ‘signing’ in the rain’, a series of backdrops and posters for a Pantothat sold out at the Edinburgh Festival, a 10 page comic and half a dozen illustrations for a book of folk takes for children, logo design for a production of ‘Steel Magnolias’, a poster for a play about King Knut, the illustrations for a book about Saxons and Viking Kings ( will probably be out next year), a set of promotional Top trump cards for a story telling event, designed the poster for this years Panto, produced a little webcomic and I have also written my own Panto which I hope will be put on next year. Some of these projects were fun and challenging and some where tedious slog fest where deadlines where ridiculously short and as a result, I didn’t sleep much.

All those projects where done in my spare time so on top of it all I was still doing a day job. These extra projects came about because I was happy to say yes to the opportunities offered they gave me an insight into other ways of working,I created all these things and I think as a result, my initial definition of myself as an artist still stands

If I had defined my self as an animator, and only judged my worth on what I had animated this last year then my output would be terrible a couple of 15 second clips and a few bits and bobs here and there, hardly seem worthy.

It could be that in 1017, I may decide to concentrate more on making animation, and so there will be less graphic design work, and then I could justify calling myself an animator, but really, I would still be an artist, just favouring animation, and my output of work would be different, as well, I might make just a minute or so of animation the whole year – as an animator would that be good? Or bad?

Its like Albert Einstein said:

everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.’

I think anyone can be an artist, but if as an artist that favours painting, you judge your output on the number of sculptures you create then you’re going to be disappointed, but if as an artist, you judge yourself on the total artwork you create then I think you will be surprised at the sheer amount of art you can actually create.

Jason, Nov 30, 2016

Wise words, Dave. Thanks for sharing them.

Klaatu, Nov 30, 2016

Totally off the cuff here, and not well thought-out: but what if an ‘artist’ inherently has different media while a ‘craftsman’ inherently has only the media required for the craft.

I don’t think of myself as either of those two labels, probably because those terms have such weight now, and when I think of “an artist”, I think of all those flakes I knew in NYC and LA, and when I think of “craftsman” I think of somebody who gets paid to make chairs. These are not accurate or fair, but they are my own special linguistic biases, and I cherish them.

I just Do What I Do, and the medium I use depends on how adventurous I’m feeling on any given day. Mostly I think of myself as somebody whose media is digital.

Jason, Nov 30, 2016

Heh… personal linguistic biases are fantastic. Those terms actually conjure similar images for me as well. I’m not sure if it shows in the podcast, but I have real difficulty using the term artist, especially in a self-referential way. It’s why I end up using the gratingly nebulous term “creative” as a noun as much as I do.

Either my vocabulary is failing me or there simply isn’t a term for “person who makes stuff for self-amusement”… correction: there’s not a non-pejorative term for that as far as I know. There should be.

Light BWK, Nov 30, 2016

My medium is storytelling, which is a huge area. It can be written stories, still images like comic, moving pictures like a movie or interactive like games. I can be designing the location, tweaking lighting mood as well as giving context to why the location is as such in the form of narrative and plots. Day one I can 3D model, another day I can paint the scene, another day I can make the characters move. Since I am an engineer, all these can come from either my logical or artistic brain. Plus I have developed methods to engineer stories beat to beat that works in any medium. It might sound crazy but storytelling is the ultimate medium, without it you will lack inspiration or motivation to 3D model, paint a landscape, device tools and set processes. If I were to pick 1 thing to do the rest of my life, I will and am confidently say “Storytelling.”

Jason, Nov 30, 2016

That’s fantastic. I feel like I used to have that level of assured mindset in defining “my medium.” Somewhere along the line, though, it feels like either my interests fractured or (more kindly put) diversified. I’m still not sure if the result is more desirable than having the sureness of resolve that you do. From my perspective, you’re in a pretty enviable position… but then again, the grass is always greener.

You’ve given me more to think on. Thank you.

Light BWK, Dec 1, 2016

“interests fractured or (more kindly put) diversified”

We all have that problem, just how much one can handle it.

Fractured interest is easy to solve though. Motivation, interest and inspiration can be stored. It does sound like a load of BS at first encounter. The key is to capture those tiny sparks of brilliance when they happen. Store them in any media you like, sometimes chat streams or FB post can store those catalyst . When you are lost, go back and seek them. It’s like counting your blessings but this time you are counting stuff you have done that you love. They will realign you and often times provide new insights and direction.

Doing new things will also help you not feel demotivated. Start small, very small goals, those you can finish under few hour or a day. This is me talking to myself: “I’m going to rise this pole and make it the best pole I have ever done in my life.” Sounds like a tall order (forgive me for the pun), but if you think about it more, it is just one thing done with perfect score. :D


Jason van Gumster

Jason van Gumster

“I make stuff. I make stuff up. On occasion, I stuff-up what I make. I don’t do much stuff with make-up… though I’m not above trying. I work in all kinds of media: words, animation, ink, coffee, wood, video. And, of course, I’m really passionate about open source and open content, so that’s what I talk about in this show. Books I’ve written and other creative experiments I’ve made can be seen on monsterjavaguns.com.”