Gear is good, vision is better I wish that I could claim that saying for my own, but the credit goes to David Du Chemin. David is a Canadian photographer out of Vancouver who is known for his humanitarian photography. As well as running an excellent blog about photography, he runs craftandvision.com. Through Craft and Vision he publishes inexpensive ebooks, written by himself and others, discussing the art and business of photography.
I often end up hearing discussions about how such and such new tool is all a person needs to be able to make some awesome piece of art. Or how they could do the same level of work as that artist if they had access to the same quality of tools. Or my personal favourite, people telling me my camera takes great pictures, as if I had nothing to do with it. I regularly get involved in debates about the merit of CNC tools in making art. All of these discussions boil down to the simple truth; gear is good, but vision is better. Artistic vision is the only thing that you need to make great art. You don't need the most expensive camera, or an antique rose engine to produce excellent work.
My shop has an odd variety of tools in it. I have both manual and CNC metal lathes, manual wood lathes, a 4-axis CNC mill, antique straight line engines, a vacuum casting machine on top of hundreds of other hand and powered tools. Some of them are home made and only make sense to me, some require advanced computer knowledge to control, others would not be out of place in the work shops of Faberge or Cellini. But none of these tools are what make me an artist. Some of them allow me to perform repetitive tasks easily, others are the best tool that I can afford to have at the moment. But for all of the hundreds of tools I own, they are not what defines me as an artist. They allow me to turn my artistic visions into reality, but they do not create that art out of thin air.
Regardless of the art you make, you will need some tools to work with. They may be as simple a pencil and paper, or as complicated as a shop full of tools. Some tools will make your life easier. Some tools will allow you to create effects that you can not create any other way. Some tools are the bare minimum that you can afford right now to be able to practise your art. At the end of the day, they are all just the means of creating your artistic vision.
The next time you are questioning the tools used to create a piece of art, consider instead the vision of the person who made it.