There is something exceptionally wonderful about art that is made for no purpose other than the urge to make it. Art that is free of theory or market. Art that is driven only by compulsion. To a great extent that is the very definition of art for many. Most artists would fear insanity if they were somehow not able to make art. I know I would be very twitchy! But somehow when one starts studying art, or showing our art, we become conscience of the audience and posterity and some purity is lost. However, saying that, I also must admit, that every painter should know color theory. Photographers should understand the numbers on their lenses, and potters need to know what will happen when the clay gets fired. To think that you can freely express yourself, while fighting with your media is daft. It is finding the middle ground, where expression is enhanced by knowledge and not inhibited by it, that is sometimes an issue.
When I was in grad school (actually not that long ago, because I was a "non-traditional" -i.e. old- grad student), I learned a great lesson from one of my younger colleagues. We were in a print class critique, and I was presenting my work and droning on about color, and process, with a few gems regarding composition thrown into the presentation. Suddenly, he said "I am so !#@%! sick of hearing about all that, just make art!". Well as someone who at that time was teaching design and color, I was initially offended, but then thought about it.
I had thought of his process as "monkey art" - you know, the old 'if you put 10,000 monkeys at a typewriter, sooner or later they will write Shakespeare' type of creation. I had seen him in the studio - music cranked, ink flying, paper grabbed, seemingly without intent. It was a Friday, so over the weekend I went to the studio, cranked up the music, let the ink fly and grabbed endless sheets of whatever paper was there... It was bliss. Complete indulgent, unabashed bliss.
On Monday, I thanked him for reminding me about the art urge.
So, as I see it "art" is twofold. There is the artistic experience of making, and the art experience of viewing. The ratio or import of each will vary. The correlation between the artist's experience and the viewer's experience may be incidental or profound. As a graphic designer, there is a wealth of experience as you work to make both concept and marketing goal work while combining a multitude of design and color theories. The result is a very transient artifact, that will most often not be appreciated for its aesthetics - even though they are the reason it works or not! The experience of making the ad may be profound to the designer, but [conscientiously] inconsequential to the viewer. While I may choose five different fabrics to make into a sweater and spend a lot of time making sure the textures and weights work together, the buyer may love the comfort and the fact it matches their new jeans. That does nothing to lessen my experience during the creation.
Some of my favorite forms of art are folk art or naive art or kids art. Art that is made because the artist had to get it out.
Tomorrow I will talk a bit more about that.
For me, that was a very meaningful experience. We often hear things like 'be in the moment' or 'learn from experience', etc. but this was more than that for me. It explained the difference between the personal experience of art and the public artifact of art. At times they coincide, but many times they are quite separate events. I may have a total 'artgasm' experience while creating something, but the final artifact may not move anyone else. One the other hand, an artifact may be created with a rote hand and is beloved by the masses.
This is why there is both a huge universe of that which we call art, and why art is undefinable. Is it the making or the made. Is it enough for it to be personal growth, or must it be communicative? Those answers probably differ as much as the art created by each artist. That is the wonderment of it all. That is the angst of it all. That is the core of it all.
For me (and I do mean "for me" - not "how it should be"), it is the experience. I have never made art with a conscience effort to change the world, or even one single mind. I have no want to be validated through gallery sales or fame. It is enough to feel the well up of the creative force and the visceral relief when it escapes from me. Whether it is then enjoyed by others is both a bonus and a wonderment, but never a necessity.
The above assertion may seem either contradictory, or a bit of downright hypocrisy, coming from someone who has made their living based on their creative endeavors for almost four decades, so tomorrow I will address that. Stay tuned!
A few days ago, I posted this photo on my Facebook page. It shows how Etsy - which was a unique outlet for handcrafters and artists - has become an outlet for mass producers. I need to acknowledge that they are not alone in this trend or the trend of the non-original idea.
To be really fair, I also have to say it occurs in both camps - the makers and the manufacturers. For every manufacturer that rips off a design or idea from an artist, there is a maker capitalizing on Dr. Who, Disney or Hello Kitty on their site. I find both practices equally as abhorrent.
Has the internet made ownership so fleeting and piracy so easy that it is now the "norm". In just the last month, besides the continuing Etsy issues, I have had two other very personal events that bring this all close to home, and make me angry!
What has happened to originality and respect?
The saga of the boots....
I had been drooling over UGG boots for a while. I had been to their site often, and was waiting to see if any would go on sale around the holidays. Of course, that meant that my Facebook page was now regularly plastered with boot ads. One day one appeared for UGG boots on 30% off. YIPEE. it was "officialUGGonline.com" so I went there. sure enough it was the UGG site - the same one as I had seen many times before, but with "sale" banners! So I ordered some boots. SCORE!
I bragged about this to an on-line group and another person went there and came back to tell me that when she went to pay she noticed something fishy. I checked my Credit Card, and saw the charge was NOT from UGG, but from "EnjoyShoppingCenter, Beijing China". Turns out they had cloned the UGG site and were selling counterfeits. I confirmed this with UGG and called my credit card company. They said they had had MANY such calls and the counterfeiters were on-line in full force during the holiday season. All is now settled, and my CC company has been fantastic. But UGH!
And now to today's story...
I am not naive enough to think this will stop, but it still ticks me off! Globalization makes enforcement of copyright almost impossible. I also know that sometimes the same idea happens two places at the same time. BUT I am also old enough to remember when product design and development involved hiring someone to research and come up with original ideas for the marketplace. Many of those jobs have virtually disappeared (pun intended) as the internet makes searching and stealing so much easier and cheaper.
I grant you that I am becoming a crotchety old woman. I will also grant you that with all technological advances come challenges. But if we as citizenry do not require better of ourselves and our society, we get what we deserve. We can not all do the right thing all the time every day, but think about it the next time you get a "deal" or create something base on another's idea. The line is fine sometimes, but when you can see it try not to cross it.
Steps off soapbox for a cup of coffee.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !