Disclaimer: Most of the time I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.
Paul Lester wrote a post entitled “The comfort zone – revisited” in which he quotes a friend who asks: When was the last time you took a big risk with your art? Or have you been playing it safe by staying in your comfort zone?
In his response to my comment Paul mentions that stepping out of a comfort zone “could be something as simple as changing formats from 3:2 to 1:1” and I agree with him, but (sorry Paul, there is a “but”) with respect to his friend Ibarionex Perello’s quote, I have to say that comparing changing aspect ratio to taking risk with art is just wrong. To be fair, both of Perello’s questions are excellent questions but they cannot be put to the same audience.
When Picasso started to paint in the form that came to be known as Cubism, he wasn’t stepping out of his comfort zone; he was taking a massive risk that could have ended his career. When Matisse, Derain and their Fauvist friends displayed their art at the Salon d’Automne of 1905 they were ridiculed and criticised with such vehemence that most of today’s “Instapreset artists” would have gone home sobbing. Those Fauvist guys hadn’t just stepped out of their comfort zone, they’d gone into that exhibition with a noose around their necks ready to be hung. The same can be said with the likes of Man Ray and Warhol. Artists simply don’t operate in terms of “comfort zones”; amateurs do.
I would bet that most people today, who push their sliders and hit preset buttons on their apps to create “art” and call themselves artists, wouldn’t even know that some bona fide artist risked everything to create some of those looks that they are now getting at the push of a button.
None of this is to say that unless someone takes risks they are not an artist (there are plenty of artists who do not take risks but still create great art), it is simply to say that to my way of thinking, taking risks in art has little to do with comfort zones.
Speaking for myself, I know I’m not an artist, I’m not even a photographer; I’m a family guy who makes his living being a Solutions Architect who happens to make photos on occasion, and while I don’t really know where my comfort zone boundaries are, I know that I never ever take risks with photography because I simply don’t know how to do that.