30 Day Challenge – Day 1
So I was surfing back through my inspirational artists and I landed on Ryan Kingslien’s site. He’s offering a free class called the “30 Day Challenge” that appears to be a psychological deconstructor for artistic blocks. While I’m not feeling blocked, I’m not yet where I’d like to be as far as my career goals go. And it’s Ryan. I’ve found his advice useful over the years. So I’m giving it a shot. The class being free also helps make the pill easy to swallow.
The first exercise is a verbal one involving journaling. I’m not a fan of old paper style journals, so I figure I’d just use my blog. I need ten of each of these to unpack my psychology. That in itself seems a bit daunting, but enough. Let’s move.
“For something to be art it must be (do)…”
- For something to be art it must have appeal. Appeal is not beauty. It can be horrific, terrifying, whatever. Appeal is the quality that invites and or demands observation.
- For something to be art it must have an audience. Art doesn’t happen in a closet. Even if the art never sees the light of day, it always has an audience of one.
- For something to be art it must move the viewer in some way. It can be baser and carnal, spiritual, but the person taking it in has to get something out of the art.
- For something to be art it must be recognized as such. I debate with myself on this all the time, but the fact that I’m thinking it means it’s going on the page. If other’s don’t recognize a piece as art, then on some level I’m not sure that it is.
- For something to be art it must be original. Copying other artists’ work is not art. It’s practice. It’s reference. It’s an homage. Whatever, if it’s not coming out of the artist themselves, it’s not art.
- For something to be art it must have value. Time is invested. Material is invested. Effort is invested. You are essentially trading your life and means for this thing’s creation.
- For something to be art it must be grounded. I’m not a fan of abstract art. Planes of simple color do not appeal to me. I like representation. I like translation of experience into media. High concept avant garde material is great, but only for rich folks who can be duped into buying it. Real art is grounded in our world of the senses.
- For something to be art it must express something. It can just be the aspiration to create, but it has to express something. It doesn’t have to have a point or a theme. It doesn’t have to be an argument. There has to be something though, that’s being moved from inside the artist out into the world.
- For something to be art it can’t be wholly planned out. Following a plan to the letter is not art, it’s craft. It’s construction. Art has accidents, surprises, discoveries.
- For something to be art it has to invest order. Art isn’t random, even if it looks random. Art is an opposite of entropy. Artists invest form out of the medium of chaos.
“For me to be an artist, I must…”
- For me to be an artist, I must get paid to create art. On some level, if I’m not a professional, I don’t feel like an artist. I’m a dabbler, I’m a hobbyist. It’s the recognition thing again. Society shows value through money. To be an artist, society has to recognize the value of your work in the form that it uses to allow you to live within its system.
- For me to be an artist, the things I create must be art. I’ve worked in graphics for a long while. Creating packaging that’s going to go into the trash the moment after it does it’s bit to help the sale, that’s not art. It doesn’t matter that it took a team of professionals to create it. It doesn’t matter that time was invested, money was invested. The end result is a pretty cardboard box wrapped around a “valuable” product. That’s simply not art.
- For me to be an artist, art has to be what I do most of the time. That is to say, it’s not something that you do “on the weekend.” Artists make art. When an artist isn’t making art, they are not an artist. If I’m a coder Monday through Friday and I do art on Saturday and Sunday, then I’m a coder most of the time, not an artist. To “be” an artist, art has to be what you do with the majority of your time.
- For me to be an artist, my work has to appeal to more than just me. It’s all well and good to love your “babies.” However, just because you love them doesn’t make them pretty. If folks don’t like your art, if they don’t find value in it, calling yourself an artist is a questionable affectation.
- For me to be an artist, I have to be able transcribe my imagination. This is what all the skills are about. It’s about turning what’s in my inner vision into outer reality. If I can’t get what’s inside out, I’m not an artist.
- For me to be an artist, I have to be able to transcribe my senses. This is different from imagination but it informs imagination. This is where the technical skills that allow your to transcribe imagination come from. Reflecting experience and recording it, to me is a very important form of art.
- For me to be an artist, I have to feel what I’m doing is valuable. That value can’t just be for someone else. To return to the graphics work, I’m sure that packaging work is plenty valuable to the company I used to do it for. They spent a whole lot of money on those cardboard boxes. It was not valuable to me though beyond the money it gave me to feed and house my family. There has to be something tangible, something lasting. Something I’m proud I had a hand in making.
- For me to be an artist, I have to be able to turn off my inner critic. Most of what I’ve said above is all value and judgement driven. To do art though, I can’t be thinking about all that shit. To do art, I need to be in the zone, creating. I need to be able to not worry about whether what I’m doing is “art” or whether I’m really an “artist.” So shutting that little inner fascist up is always a good thing.
- For me to be an artist, I need the recognition of my fellow artists. Admiration of the public is nice, but having fellow artists look at your stuff and value it, that’s pretty much the biggest ego boost you can get or give. Having artists accept you as one of them, that’s important to me.
- For me to be an artist, I need to be able to survive in this society as one. This one is about brass tacks. In the end, what I am is a human. Humans do what they have to to survive. In the old days, folks did art after the hunt was done and the food gathered. They did it after shelter was established and the family safe from the elements. Art never supplanted these needs. It can’t supplant them. You do want you have to to make your way. Sacrificing on these essentials doesn’t make you an artist. It makes you homeless.