PK 069: Aaron Kupferman on How Artists See the World Differently

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Aaron Kupferman works as a VFX compositor, but has a lifelong passion for photography which began when his parents bought him a camera at high school

Aaron Kupferman is a photographer and VFX artist. In this podcast, he talks about what it means to see the world differently as an artist, and why getting caught up in techniques can often get in the way of your creativity.

Aaron Kupferman: His Passion for Photography

These days, Aaron Kupferman works as a visual compositor in the film industry. But, when he’s not busy at the day job, his big passion is photography.

For him, photography is deeply personal thing which helps him recharge his batteries and take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

He says: “When I go out on a photography shoot, it’s me, the camera, and the scene – that’s all. That’s my mental re-set, and I love the process as much as the result – almost more so, sometimes.”

Aaron Kupferman’s Creative Journey

Aaron Kupferman’s passion for photography began when his parents bought him a camera as a high school graduation gift.

However, although he took a few classes to learn the basics of taking photographs, he also knew he wanted to study a broader creative subject at college.

So, when his brother told him about a digital media program at Otis College of Art & Design in LA, he decided to enrol. And, although he wasn’t a natural artist with a pencil, Aaron enjoyed all the foundation art programs you have to study in your first year, such as life drawing and other analog art techniques.

He says: “I was looking at studying typography and motion graphics, but I chose composting because it combined my love of photography with using computer software. It really resonated with me.”

Aaron Kupferman on his Creative Career

At Otis, Aaron learned a wide range of photographic techniques which he incorporated into his final project – a film collaboration with another student which combined visual effects with his love of photography.

At the end of the school year, an American producer came in to take a look at the students’ work. And, he was so impressed by Aaron’s project that he offered him a job as a film supervisor in China – an experience which Aaron describes as “amazing”.

When he returned back home to the States, Aaron was able to put his experience in the film industry to good use in his role as a visual effects (VFX) compositor. Here’s an example of his work:

Should You go to Art School to Advance Your Creative Career?

The connections Aaron made at art school undoubtedly helped him further his creative career, but he’s got mixed views about whether it’s absolutely necessary to go down this route to advance your creative career.

He explains: “I’ve seen some really amazing visual effects artists come through the industry who have never touched art school. But I’ve also seen people who’ve been exposed to the best art school experience possible who go back to doing a ‘nothing’ job as soon as they’ve graduated. And, as a result, all that experience is lost.

“Really, it’s a lot more about your drive and what you bring to the table. That’s what makes or breaks you. When I was at art school, there were a lot of people who went there expecting to be taught something. But it’s not about you being taught something – it’s about you learning something.

“Anybody can stand in of you and show you the most amazing techniques and the most inspirational art. But, if you don’t do anything with it, that’s your money lost.”

Aaron Kupferman on Techniques Vs Creativity

One of Aaron’s strong beliefs is that you shouldn’t place too much emphasis on the materials you’re using or the techniques you’ve learned.

For him, it’s only worth having these things under your belt if you’ve got something new to say with your art.

He says: “People will often say to me: ‘That’s a beautiful photo. What camera did you use?’ That’s like going up to somebody who’s drawing and asking them what paper they’re using! I think people focus way too much on the technique, and they forget about what they’re doing.”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Why having the passion to make art is more important than having the best teachers
  • Why you shouldn’t focus too much on techniques, software, or materials
  • How having a sideline art project can help you become more creative

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Mitch

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