Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts on Writing and being an Artist

Artists should write.  They should write a lot.  To paraphrase Einstein, it is often more important to be able to think about what you are doing and why than it is to simply do it.  At the very least, if an artist keeps notes that can be referred back to they will develop a stronger foundation for future creative pursuits.  The important thing is giving some thought to what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Journaling helps you to bring a set of interests into focus and eventually to formulate and explore your own ideas and problems in the form of research questions.  This eventually leads to works created in series spinning off new questions and new series.  The ability to experiment and move forward constructively is the basis of success in any pursuit including the arts.

Artist's statements are really more helpful to the artist than anyone else.  Statement writing can be a different kind of self exploration.  Often artists just make work and more work without stopping to reflect on what they've really made and what their true motivations were.  An artist may keep a journal as they make their work and may have some ideas in mind that may seem very important.  But, when ideas are floating around in your mind they're too easy to treat lightly or over estimate.  Plus, journal writing usually comes out of a fast and loose creative process rather than analytical thought.  Statement writing provides time reflect and fix ideas on the page.  Once a thing is written down and staring back at you, you have to take responsibility for it and truly deal with it and maybe even provide for it.  There is an Arab saying, when a thing is true they say "it is written".  The other side of that coin might be that if you're going to write anything down you had better make sure it's true.  You have to decide if what you have written is actually true or not and whether you're being honest with yourself.  You artist might realize that what you were thinking about when you made the work isn't the important thing at all.

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