An Artificer’s insight
You have a job to do
Every human that can read this has a job to do and that is to make the world and the people in it better. It is the responsibility of being alive and being in a social species. Either you acknowledge this or you don’t but, the impact of your time on earth will be substantial and it will be felt most of all by those who you care about. So every day do what you can, even if it is only to smile at a stranger or tell a friend a bad joke. As artists we have a specific capacity to communicate and engage people and as such the responsibility is increased. It also means that the artefacts you create should function, you have to design and craft for the audience even if it is of one.
Do not be an artist (get a life)
Let me repeat don’t be an artist: be a person. If you construct a life around the idea of being an “Artist” then your life will quickly fall out of balance and you will suffer as a result, as will the work. The work comes from you and thus reflects the life you lead and the person you are. The “artist” living this singular life will have nothing to give except; specific and generally unpractical knowledge and unrelatable experiences. When you are unable to engage with people outside your specialism, then you have become a bore and an artist that is a bore produces vapid work. As stated before you have a job to do and being an “artist” will cripple your ability to do it yet, the skill of the artist will empower you to do your” job”. There is a more selfish reason to not be an artist and that is when you are an artist every moment you are not working you face an existential dread as a result of your identity not being fulfilled. This dread feels like you are like the fear of death and or the notion you are an imposter and a hack. However innovation and inspiration often comes from the synthesis of ideas from other fields. Be a person. Build a shed with your family. Learn an instrument and absorb facts (the news does not count and is only recommended for satirists)
Hydration is important
Art is created with the body; therefore the greater the wellbeing and functioning of the body the greater the efficacy of the person. Drinking enough water is the first and easiest thing to do to improve your body. I am serious if you want more energy and fewer maladies then drink enough water.
Don’t suffer for your art: work for it
There is almost nothing certain for artists in the modern age but, there are a few things. Always trust in the craft of “arts and crafts”. What is art? Anything can be art and as such it doesn’t matter. You may contest that sentiment but, someone in an art gallery has already proven you wrong. Also there is no need to chase the ephemeral concept of “art” when by the inevitable nature of you being human; art will come naturally as the consequence of your human limitations and inevitable uniqueness. Craft on the other hand isa reliable path of improvement and means of critique. So work hard at craft and let art take care of itself. Also stress, fear and the self-loathing will negatively affect the ability for the brain to produce ideas and regulate behaviour. The half mad bohemian artist stereotype is a pop culture trope; not a role model. It does not work in real life. Life will give you all the grief and loss you need to understand your fellow man so the self-harming of the “artist” life style is unnecessary, unpleasant and counterproductive. Stress is a survival mechanism and will physically inhibit creativity. It is in my view that this would make one less of an artist. People work better happy. Happiness is not indulgence however.
Draw as you please
Most fundamentally make art. DO the actions. The audience can be you, and the smile you earn, your own. Even when working for others have fun and draw for you, as it is not sustainable to alienate yourself from your art for any reason; as eventually you will not be able to make art at all. If you cannot appeal to yourself then how can you convince anyone that it is appealing? You can take orders and meet the brief but, if you don’t put yourself into it you will procrastinate or do a rushed job. If you draw as you please you will invest the time and creativity to produce something of value.
Work from broken
Creativity has the qualities of uniqueness, diversity, cunning and imagination. Perfection on the other hand is about the right answer. Math problems have right answers as do other abstract/narrow fields of endeavour. We can perfect the production of strait lines or tv screens but, that is not the artist’s job. Bespoke, broken, unique and humane work caries more appeal and resonance than the perfect singular right answers. Striving for perfection will undermine the work you do and the ability to do it. As it is not worth getting perfection is it not wise waiting for perfection. We are broken. Life is broken. Everything is broken. Broken is beautiful and unique. Celebrate the imperfections of the human touch. Always be willing to start from the broken place you are in right now. It is always one of the two options you have at any given time and it is always the better one. You will only find out what a painting will be when it is done. A painting will only be done if it is painted. Truth is we don’t control the outcomes of our actions or the events of life. We can only approximate the outcomes and thus we need to let go of perfection.
Cross pollinations in art forms why I don’t believe in art for art sake
A long time ago I used to be a poi spinner. That is a form of object manipulation juggling. That would be the kind that does not revolve around throwing and catching although I did some of that and gave up. Depth perception is handy an
Poi spinning is sometimes just called firespinng as that is often how it is sold but, it developed from its ethnic Maori roots and picked up different styles and moves and almost everything that is seen as poi spinning right now comes from other forms of dance and skills
Here is a link to the original form of poi spinninghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Hu2g5h0hNM
The Maori “moves” are the foundational moves but, large choreographed groups that need to sing are not part of the practice we have in the north west of the planet. Also without access to the teachings of the original culture the dance form has become a hybrid of the different cultures and disciplines it moves through. It is in my opinion that basing solely on the manipulation of the object the mongrel performances are better.
This is from a spinner known as DurbsBT (burnt toast)
The passion for jazz and body popping derived dance styles in culmination with a previous foundation in other manipulation arts (contact juggling) result in a unique and rich practice of the art form of poi spinning.
Other influences are not technical but, are based on spiritual beliefs on the like and personally I think it is hippy bullshit. My spirituality comes from colder place than other poi spinners i.e. Glasgow. Yet I think it is undeniable It has an observable influence in the practice and presentation.
The following link is promotional material for an instructional DVD and has examples of these influences starting with poi spinner “alien Jon” who uses the Logic math and computer simulation to enrich his practice, that and a hippy or two.
Now this discourse could go on for some time exploring the different spinners and the factors that influenced them but, they are not the point of this discourse. The point is that this performance art has improved as a whole by practitioners that come from different disciplines. It is the integration of other knowledge’s and worlds of information. And I am using poi as analogue for the infinitely more complex world of art.
Art practice is improved when external influences and disciplines enrich the individual art maker.
Also here is some justification to why I used poi spinning as the example. I know poi. Poi is a simpler sphere of art to understand. It has not been in its current form for as long as mainstream art. It has no academia or criticism to cloud the issues, and yes I am saying those centuries of non-artists and unintelligible artists adding masses of media to the world of art, makes it harder to understand. At least it makes it harder to grasp what really happened and how things really work. It is why it is respected by the old institutions; it is hard.
Art (as in what normal human thinks about when their eyes glaze over and we start rambling) has always been political in some way. Well it wasn’t always but, for long enough…shut up. It was for the witch doctor to wow the tribe and the church to bamboozle the people and lionize the royalty. It then helped promote elitist views of violently nationalistic and insecure nations. Not saying art is evil it has empowered revolutions, counter revolutions in fact it has been part of every movement I can think of in some capacity that I can think of. Consider the great empire of Nintendo and its army of nostalgic grown up GenX’ers and how they won the terrifying consoles wars of 2006.
Any way this is getting very far off topic. One of the most creative artists I know is not an artist. They are someone who just draws and I teach them what I can. See you would think it would be a course mate or artist friend. It is not they are like me are stuck in the incestuous word of art. Art for art sake and games for…we like games and people can make money from us? Doesn’t roll of the tongue well at all.
Well this creative and joyful practitioner of art is a scientist. Well a student studying Bio Medical Sciences and their personal interests and knowledge manifest in not only decent grades but, as a fountain of ideas in drawings and stories.
For a long time the image of the near mad bohemian artist that gives everything to art and becomes great has informed the practice of students and professionals. Reflecting on people I know and other art forms I have thus come to the conclusion this is wrong. I think we should become whole people and develop hobbies and fields of study outside of art. Similarly I believe everyone’s life can be enriched by practicing art.
This is part of the thinking that will relate to the manifesto. The principle will be called “the power of multidisciplinary cross pollination” or “get a life.”
So what suggestion actions would relate to this?
1. Take the time you would studying anatomy one day and spend that time performing strength building exercises. Read up on it to so you do it right and learn that how your body works and you have better understanding of the anatomy your learning.
2. Get another art form. Pick up something that looks fun. Guitar, poi or a camera. Just anything fun and practice. It will pay dividends.
3. Learn about fields you don’t think have any relation to art. Someday you will appropriate Ideas and innovate but, to choose a field just because you want to be better at art would narrow your understanding so I would avoid it. Although the alienation between academia and art has proven to be a good choice although you will become a bore. So go onto TED and enjoy the science. Talk to a friend who know completely different things and listen.
4. Listen to a new kind of music. My use of colour has been improved by listening to jazz. And my attention to detail seems better when listening to classical and metal makes for more expressive character art, while pop leads to violent outbursts and bitter satirical content.
5. Learn programing if you don’t know already. Enrol on an online course.
6. Engage with your friends and family. Talk to them and help them build sheds in high winds(or whatever families do )
7. Live and interesting life if you want interesting art. Fill the well and steal methodologies ideas and concepts.
It has been said that anything studied in great enough detail becomes a metaphor for everything else in life.
Here is a link to a psychology blog and an article on how innovations are often appropriated from what already exists rather than from brand new things.