Unfortunately, this ARTicle is not about ART Eckman. Though, I would happily write an entire ARTicle about why ART and David Bailey are forever the voices of Supercross and motocross (granted I do believe Daniel Blair in the booth could be the answer we’ve been waiting for). And, no, this isn’t about why the other hot dogs at vurbmoto call me ART Dog, the worst nickname created since the beginning of time. Nope, today, we are going to put on our scholarly hats and pretend we are great philosophers, okay? Here we go.
WHAT is art? According to Merriam-Webster (the dictionary), art is something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. Merriam-Webster forgot to include the part about art being wildly subjective and, to some individuals, endlessly pointless. What we, as a society, fail to realize is that art is all around us: architecture, furniture, cars, clothing, etc. It’s all art. The design, look and feel are all from the imagination of an artistic mind. I cannot go design a building, because I do not possess the creative prowess to fathom such a grandiose endeavor. That takes a uniquely creative individual to create such a piece of work. Not to mention passion. And, passion and art, to some extent, go hand-in-hand.
I am not an art aficionado by any means. A lot of art I do not understand. But, sometimes I think that is okay. Even if you don’t understand the painting, photograph, film, song, design, and so on, if it makes you feel something, that is when art has done its job. And, like I said moments ago, art is incredibly subjective. What you like I may hate and what you hate I may like. It’s not a one-size fits all type of situation, and if we were better at understanding and accepting this realization, perhaps we wouldn’t be so angry all of the time (unless you’re a part of a message board. Those fuckers are perpetually mad at everyone and no one all of the time for reasons they can’t even explain).
Growing up, I always enjoyed drawing and writing short stories. Now, just because I enjoyed it doesn’t mean I was good at it. I enjoy playing the guitar but I am absolutely terrible at it. I had a few art classes in middle school that I enjoyed and, for whatever reason, I always loved trying to create accurate drawings of the R.M.S Queen Mary and Disneyland’s Matterhorn Mountain. I have no access to any of these drawings as I am certain they were trashed, but my memory leads me to believe they weren’t half bad. Thus, clearly the more accurate statement is that they were terrible. From that, my artistic color shaped into an interest in photography and we all know how that ended. However, this artistic color of mine has got me into trouble, created criticism and a strong dislike for what I do behind a camera.
To counter that, it has also created the opposite and a very positive group of individuals that appreciate my perception of the things I capture, blah, blah, blah. Without making this wildly political, the dirtbike industry leans more so on the right side of things, all of which is fine because I don’t give a shit about your political or religious beliefs. Whether you be left, right, center, or whatever else there is, I genuinely don’t care. My point is that in my blissful ignorance, I learned that the artistic and creative approach to dirtbikes is, at times, scoffed at because it’s too “artsy” or too “emotional,” and that’s not the “shit we wanna see in moto,” which then has lead into a whole other realm of name calling. And, working in a primarily right leaning industry while possessing creative views that are sometimes more appreciated on the left side of things, at times made for an interesting dialogue.
Example? The amount of times I’ve been called homosexual slurs by “industry peers” for my style of work is, well… one too many times.
I used to struggle with the idea of being called artistic, an artist, creative, along with the hateful slurs. It made me feel uncomfortable because I don’t believe I do anything special. I just do what it is that I do and call it a day. Plus, when I worked at an art supply store stocking shelves, all of my fellow co-workers were self-proclaimed “artists,” with a piss-poor attitude and level of arrogance you would expect from Brad Pitt. It always left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt the same way with the term “cinematographer.” It just feels pretentious and arrogant. However, as time marches on and I’ve accepted the style of my work and direction in which I aim to take it in, I have become much more comfortable with the terms “artist” and/or “cinematographer.”
A film like No Runners was a way for me to show where I want to take my work and how I want to be viewed (granted I have no control over that part) behind the camera. That film encapsulates my growth and desires moving forward as an artist and cinematographer. What I am currently working on with Paige and Christian Craig takes the aforementioned, and aims to be even bigger, better, and more out in left field than No Runners. Because, in my opinion, art shouldn’t be safe.
Art inspires most of us to some level. For me, art that emotionally moves me is what I find motivating and inspiring. It can be a movie, a TV show, a photograph, or a painting. One of my favorite paintings is called Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. There is a simplicity, loneliness, and a sense of contentment that I find so powerful. It’s a painting that I could gaze at for hours without getting bored. Films like A Portrait of a Lady on Fire have, for me, such a powerful story and beautiful imagery that leads me down a path of wanting to understand how they achieved the story, the framing, the lighting, sensor size, lensing, and more because I want to be at that level. It inspires me to want to create a piece of work that can move somebody just as much as a certain film can move me.
And, then we have music. Music may be the most influential creative medium for me. That’s the shit that can make you wanna go out and conquer the world without fear of failure. For me (shockingly), obviously, Angles & Airwaves is the band that really drives home those emotions. Aside from the musical element, I would argue that its front man, Tom DeLonge’s, fearless approach to life that motivates and inspires me. The guy quit one of the biggest rock bands in the world (Blink 182, TWICE) to start a more ambitious and meaningful band (AvA) and to also seek the truth about UFOs and the existence of alien life. And, what’s wild? The guy is actually showing that he was correct in his UFO research.
He’s humble yet unapologetically confident in who he is as an artist and unafraid to put himself out there for what he believes is the right thing, whether that be artistically or scientifically. That’s the shit that I dig, and I do my best to bring that to my style of work. I am searching for that confidence in being an artist, being a cinematographer, and being confident and proud in the things I achieve. It’s awkward, and it’s uncomfortable for me. But, I am trying. No Runners was my first real step forward in that direction and, what’s to come with CC and Paige is the next evolution in that chapter.
My all-time favorite speech is from John F. Kennedy at Amherst College in October of 1963. He gave a powerful speech about the arts inspired by poet Robert Frost. However, one of my favorite moments in the speech is a line JFK quotes from poet Archibald MacLeish, who once said, “There is nothing worse for our trade than to be in style.” And, that shit hits hard with me. MacLeish isn’t wrong. We see so within the dirtbike filming world doing the same thing over and over. They all do the same thing and follow the trends that are happening. It’s a terrible look for our community. It shows a lack of originality and the inability to think outside of the box you’re in. Be bold and unafraid to take an artistic risk. If No Runners shit the bed, then it shit the bed. But, at least I put myself out there and tried to artistically challenge myself and challenge the status quo of dirt bike videos. And, once again with Paige and Christian Craig, I will challenge my artistic prowess even further and see if I fail or execute what I know can be something genuinely sincere and unique. I hope to never be in style because, to be in style is, in fact, the worst thing for our trade.