Thoughts from Padawans – Kyle Van Etten

I decided to start a series of articles from my apprentices at The Arcanum. It’s a way for them to get their work out there, and at the same time share their thoughts from their experiences learning in The Arcanum. With that said, read on to learn from my apprentice. Kudos to you if you caught the Star Wars reference. – Scott

I have to say since joining The Arcanum and taking on the challenges as I level up, I find myself trying new things constantly, making bolder processing decisions, experimenting, looking things up, figuring out how someone did something, recreating, revisiting, reprocessing, and in general thinking about my work in new and exciting ways.  And in all of it I feel more free, free to produce great images, free to produce some that flop, and to learn from both.  Free to have fun, to learn, to expand my “style,” to try new things, and I am loving it!!!


The opportunity to have feedback on your work and to be able to have a field test of how other people see a photo you have created is both artistically valuable and technically valuable.  Not only does it help you to improve the current image you are working on, you learn to watch out for pitfalls, find shortcuts to a faster more efficient workflow, and learn lots of new processing techniques and tricks.  And, the best part is you will always have your safe community to try things out in before blasting them to the world of social media and the internet. This gives you the freedom to experiment, and in an environment like that I believe true growth is fostered.


Another piece of the Arcanum that has been amazing is the constant inspiration I get from seeing the work of my fellow apprentices. Other apprentices are trying things that had never even occurred to me, seeing places in ways that I would have overlooked, and making wonderful art out of subjects that I would not have considered. Nearly every time I check in to my cohort and to the larger Arcanum community I get inspired to try a new thing or to see the world differently. One of the best parts about it is the community itself is a learning community. Instead of being intimidated or feeling like I need to compare myself to other apprentices, I feel like we are on an adventure together.


In many ways the structure of the Arcanum is fairly flat – the level of engagement is often peer-to-peer, and even the masters are not set on pedestals high above the apprentices, but walk with us and get to know us and our artistic journey. Though I don’t want to speak for them I do like to think, and do get the impression that at times we also provide the same kind of inspiration for them. Ultimately I feel like The Arcanum is not something you simply join. Instead a more accurate way to describe it is as something that you get caught up in or swept away by. Each time someone produces some amazing piece of art the community is launched forward and elevated by it. It has been an incredible way to learn and grow and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

by Kyle Van Etten | SmugMug | Facebook | Google Plus

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