So now I know why artists and writers and photographers keep sketchbooks and journals and cameras with them at all times. In the past few months, I’ve been overrun with a deluge of ideas. Each of them feels like an epiphany when it comes and most of them I end up forgetting. Those I remember, I try; most of them turn out to be false starts. Those that aren’t false starts end up becoming something more, but never quite what I expected them to be. Long story short, keep a journal. I haven’t, but I should have.
I know that I find beauty in linework, handwriting and maps, wires and all sorts of simple things that come together to make shapes. I know this and am inspired by it, but at the same time I am afraid of being stifled by the very same ideas that generated so much of my work. Through experimentation comes innovation, but with limited funds it seems like experimentation is just a waste of good supplies. This isn’t the case. Sometimes I look at the crap I made just to better appreciate the things I can show with pride.
Walking through galleries and museums, good art amazes me and every time I find something new and beautiful, I wonder why I didn’t think of it. I guess that’s the point, really. Even if anyone could do it, only one person did. Then I go back to the studio and feel like I should incorporate the parts that I found most successful in that work into my studio work. Big mistake. If ever you feel the same way, do yourself a favor and ignore it. What makes one person’s work successful is not what will make yours – instead it will make yours derivative and flat. I think what I’ve learned from making flat and derivative work in the past is that, if you want to be an artist and collect your environment as you live in it, internalize it first before you use it. When it comes out after you’ve had time to ruminate, it will be more you than your inspiration. Process is key. Keep working. Make time.
It’s hard to imagine that most of the work we make won’t pass our own inspection. If that’s not the case, consider inspecting your work more carefully. I say this as much to myself as to you.
Make art and collect art. You’ll be happy you did.