With our new series “An artist´s life.” we want to share the stories of the people behind the art.
“An artist´s life.”
The stories of the people behind the art
#8 Demis Lyall-Wilson
A Duality Of Scale
No matter what field an artist works in, there’s one thing that binds us all: that strange duality of money versus passion. We’re all on that spectrum somewhere, everything we do. Are you that person who’s almost completely sold their artistic soul, lingering at the money end? Or perhaps you’re the other, struggling to pay the bills, sharing a room with several half-finished projects, loving every second of the starvation? Me? I might have found that particular balance, albeit an uncommon one.
Half my year I spend working on Hollywood films. Visual effects: compositing, if you want to get specific. It’s very creative work – that ‘photoshop for video’ kind of skillset, involving green-screens, with an artistic scope ranging from removing pimples from brows up to creating and destroying entire worlds. It’s fun. It’s challenging. And yes, it pays the bills. My bosses bosses are big corporate entities, Disney and the like, with much of the higher level structural creativity well out of my hands. Some months, some deadlines, my body is destroyed by the 18-hour-days or the 7-day-weeks. More often than not, even that becomes worth it: working on a single successful film, and I’ve got something cool to talk about at the pub for years.
“While the great duality for me is still finding that duality of passion versus pay, having mostly found it, my own swinging bar is somewhat different: the battle between the large (the lack of creative control, the complicated) and the small (the simple, the emotionally attached). When I’m deep amidst one, I do miss the other, life always seeming that bit greener on the other side of the fence.”
Then, with the other half of my year, something that feels like an opposite: I take photographs. Fashion, portraits, friends, models, the occasional celeb/actor type. Instead of vast teams working from open-plan corporate office booths, it’s me, a model, a makeup artist, maybe a stylist. Instead of seven different levels of creative command between me and the finished pixels on screen, it’s just us few, in the room, making art on the fly. Or just a girl, a street, a camera. Something doesn’t work, we just fix it, move on. The art itself is simpler too: instead of hundreds of artificial elements (spaceships, fire, smoke, dust, destruction), we’re focused on the mood, the moment, finding some very real aspect of a person’s personality and capturing it in a blink, the genuine article. But no, before you ask: it certainly doesn’t pay as well.
While the great duality for me is still finding that duality of passion versus pay, having mostly found it, my own swinging bar is somewhat different: the battle between the large (the lack of creative control, the complicated) and the small (the simple, the emotionally attached). When I’m deep amidst one, I do miss the other, life always seeming that bit greener on the other side of the fence. Which is my point really: if it’s true we all have our dualities, our raging internal battles, will we, as artists, ever find the One Balance To Rule Them All? Part of me thinks not. And maybe that’s the thing about art — to have moment you’re not fighting, not striving, no seeking to fix or improve — perhaps that’s the impossible dream.
Demis Lyall-Wilson is a London-based photographer and Hollywood visual effects artist.