"Garage" Art and Digital Art

FAD: You've described yourself as a "garage artist." What does that mean? 

J.K.Potter: I consider myself a garage artist in that I use low-tech minimalist methods and very basic used equipment to get effects that can be highly sophisticated. I use airbrushes from the 20s, a stripped down press camera from the 50s, film holders scavenged from abandoned buildings, and lenses bought from pawn shops. My darkroom is a dump. The sink is tilted up against the wall when not in use. The plumbing is a single garden hose. I have one enlarger, not six. I have very little in the way of fancy electronics. I like to be able to fix and maintain my equipment myself. Only in recent years have I started using a 35mm camera. That was a big high-tech step forward for me. 

Does this give your work an intensity that computer generated graphics lack?  

No, I don't think so. My retouching may be a bit raw and sloppy sometimes. I think intensity comes more from the imagination than the tools an artist uses. Life experience is of paramount importance. Technology can give you an edge, and photography can give your work an immediacy that other media lack, but you have to invest your work with soul, otherwise it is useless. 

How do you feel about computer graphics? 

 I love computer graphics. Computer graphics and digital photography give me a big hard-on. People sometimes come up to me at shows and say "I bet you hate Photoshop and those morphing programs." I think people are brainwashed into viewing life as some kind of big competitive football game, and they presume that because I'm somewhat retro, that I must despise and fear the digital revolution. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Wouldn't you be able to achieve a similar look with a computer? 

 Certainly, but you can also achieve very painterly Baconesque effects with the computer, and that doesn't obviate the need for original-thinking oil painters. I would hope that some people would see a little more than just technique when they view my work. When you boil it down, technique is always secondary to what you do with it. Many digital artists I know feel the same way.