An anecdote for creative types everywhere

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“A photographer went to a socialite party in New York.

As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’

He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.”

– Sam Haskins

An anecdote quoted from the now late photographer, Sam Haskins. If you’re a photographer, graphic designer or work in another creative field, you’ve probably heard similar comments to that of the host in this quote, I know I have.

Can you relate? What is your craft, and how often do your tools get the credit? Leave a comment below and let me know.

P.S. Surprisingly, after posting this I’ve had to delete quite a few comments calling the photographer various colourful insults not fit to be repeated here. It’s a story people, meant to be taken with a little humour. No need to get upset.


20 thoughtful comments on “An anecdote for creative types everywhere”

  1. Tom says:

    I can relate all too well.

  2. Rob Cubbon says:

    Great website, Andrew, you must have a great host :)

  3. Andrew Keir says:

    That’s it Rob, I just pay the bill each month and all the rest just springs into existence. No time or effort required.

  4. Monster says:

    As a graphic designer, I hear: “Wow you’ve done some really great logos. You must have a pretty expensive computer.”
    I don’t think that Haskins was trying to be mean or insulting, just a bit sarcastic. I’d have done the same thing.

  5. Paul Murray says:

    People ask me “What do you use to design?”

    They always look at me like I’m stupid when I reply “pencil and paper”.

    I always like to finalise a design as much as I can on paper first. This is my actual designing stage, the use of Illustrator or other software is the finishing stage for most of my projects.

    If only the software would do the research and generate the ideas for me!

  6. Wedge says:

    Very funny, typical that people believe that the instrument makes you good at something, same could be said of carpenter, man you must have great Hammer. My father in law also thought if he got the next cool tool he would be able to build things. All that happened was he filled his garage with tools.

  7. Ann says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Untalented people just can’t relate to or understand the creativity and timing of an artist (be that designer, graphic, photographer, etc.)!

    I think it is wonderful you do have a sense of humor, also! Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed your post and the comments.

  8. Chris says:

    After a delightful dinner from a host that had no idea she was being insensitive, was it really worthwhile to throw that last comment in her face?

    People can either demonstrate class or they can show a distinct lack thereof!

    Ann, not intending to be argumentative but I’m afraid that people who ask such questions aren’t ALL untalented.

    Come on people… give the host a break. Her comment was totally innocent and said without fore-thought of malice or hurtfulness. It was an innocent retort!

  9. Andrew Keir says:

    Hi Chris,

    You’re focusing on the wrong part of the story (as are the other people who left less polite comments than you, which I deleted).

    The point is that good work in any trade is the result of talent and hard work, not good tools. It’s not to say that anyone who thinks otherwise is foolish or ignorant.

  10. Andrew says:

    When it comes to art it’s usually the artist; but when it comes to science it’s usually the tools; most big advances in science can be attributed to first advances in the tools (microscope, telescope, electron scanning microscope, hubble, particle colliers etc. etc.). People just get used to giving all the credit to the tools.

  11. Roxanne says:

    I really like that story. I think people are taking it too seriously.

  12. Al says:

    Maybe I will just say my name next time someone asks what camera I use. If all they see is the tool, then they evidently don’t see the result of my hard work.

  13. David Caso says:

    The piano does not make the music.

  14. Lisa says:

    Great story. I would have done the same thing.

    As someone was watching me do some heavy photo retouching: “It’s really amazing what Photoshop can do!” Me: “Photoshop isn’t doing it, I am.”

  15. Mark Grabow says:

    Is the correlation to this the adage, “It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools”?

  16. Ernie Mauricio says:

    A corollary to that would be: If you play bad music, don’t blame your guitar. =)

  17. Andrew Keir says:

    Mark,

    In this case, it’s the tools getting undue credit for a good craftsman’s skills – similar to Lisa’s example with Adobe Photoshop.

  18. I’m reminded of the great line attributed to Milton Glaser: “Computers are to design as microwaves are to cooking.”

  19. Lisa Winand says:

    Love it! Some people need to get a clue.

  20. Lorraine Jarnes says:

    Great piece. I laughed out loud. This is a reminder that people often just don’t understand the effort that someone puts into anything creative. They liken it to playing or goofing around, when in reality it is an effort. I still have to (quite frequently) remind myself that most do not give credence, validity, etc. to those who are creative.


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