September 22, 2005
Notes on Making Art
by sven at 11:46 am
I've been influenced by Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" and also Philip Sylvester at the Drawing Studio -- but I feel like I'm really beginning to get a grip of my own on the creative process and wanted to take some quick notes.
Quality through quantity. Don't get hung up on making this one piece good -- make ten and one will certainly be pretty good.
Do NOT mix generating and editing. When you're making a piece, don't stop and get judgmental half-way through. If it's a piece of crap, get that piece of crap out of your system -- don't try to fix it mid-flow. Finish it, move on.
When to judge: After you've completed a piece, look at it and decide what direction you want to go in next. Or if you're selecting pieces for submission to a show, apply your critiquing mind then. Make a piece of art; look at it; make another.
Don't be afraid to re-use elements. If each piece has to be unique, then you're going to get hung-up when you create some bit that you like. But if you can re-use bits, then you can keep moving.
How to have "lots of ideas": permute. Start anywhere. Once a piece is done, try varying some aspect. Think of all the variables that could have permutations.
"Get through your first 50 failures as fast as you can." I don't think that we should be shooting for a place where we no longer make crappy art. A good artist is one who's in motion making lots of art -- you only think they're so much better because they produce so much quantity that their pile of "good art" has also been able to accumulate. For every piece of crap you create, you're one step closer to getting something you really like.
Don't even bother "fixing" pieces. Making art shouldn't be a struggle. You're simply "thinking out loud" onto the page, photo-paper, or canvas. If a product seems confused, leave it confused. Make another piece where you contemplate whatever issues you were wrestling with. Try something different. When clarity arrives, it will come in one living piece -- not be Frankensteined together out of a single infinitely re-worked, mangled corpse.
Work fast. Creativity is exciting. If you're not judging while you're making, then you can just throw things together as fast as your mind can move. You're smart; if you don't like what you've made, you'll know immediately. You might not know what to do about the problem you perceive... Don't "think", standing there cogitating -- try things. If your hands are in motion, you can be generating new permutations. The one that you want to pick will come out on its own time.
Let your level show. Let the world know that despite having years of investment in your art form, you're still a beginner who doesn't know it all. Rather than hide your thought process, let your questions be present in your work. You are a fundamentally more interesting artist if people get to see what it is that you're struggling with, rather than just your final answers. Show your work. Talk about what you still can't understand (unapologetically).
Don't hide your failures. If you are only willing to show those perfect pieces that you are aspiring towards, you're never going to display / publish your work. Show everything, the worst of the crap included, and let your ego be humbled -- and goaded to create more.