As many of you (I am optimistically counting my readership on both hands) are aware, I’ve been struggling with balancing my time in a way so as to including some sort of visual, photo-based creativity productivity. Work hours are erratic, but usually provide me with ample free time; time I should be using to polish my ability to make interesting, beautiful images… or even just any images.
I’ve been moderately successful at shooting images for a few different projects, but have been hampered by several factors (pleasant distractions, fear of failure, conceptual problems). Today I came to a conclusion that will help me over one of these, and hopefully break some of the bad habits taught to me at art school.
The roots of this idea are as follows:
- A line in the often hilarious and usually maddening Cat and Girl, “Thinking is the opposite of doing.” and,
- A recent article in SF Weekly about the dastardly business practices of Zynga (of Farmville fame).
So, (1) stop faffing about with concept for god’s sake. I’ve been snarking about peoples’ boring, straightforward work for way too long. It’s a defense mechanism, with it’s respective roots (stay with me now) in art school and long-standing, problematic views on originality. I think I’ve figured it out. Most people don’t want concept, and most of those, including myself, that do, prefer it as a tasty topping to an already delicious work. As to those few, insular, MFA students, those who put concept before craft, those who want to have to read several essays before and after to properly appreciate some impenetrable display, well, I wish you all these best, but that art isn’t my art.
Good art has to have concept, doesn’t it? Otherwise it’s just Robert Bateman, it’s just Thomas Kinkade, it’s just bullshit. But please, please stop with the circular thinking and constant second-guessing and editing. Write down a one-sentence statement and then go. Go.
Oh. Right. (2). The desire to make something original is counterproductive. It’s a throwback to the ivory tower artist, the visionary, touched by the divine, back there somewhere with gilt, ornate frames and patronage. Art, like everything else, is a business. Most people, especially people with money to pay for art, have probably put their time and energy into something other than an art school education. Make something accessible. At least at first. Make something with a hook, something that would look nice on a mansion (or at least a condo) wall. Produce a commodity that people want and are willing to pay for, and if someone else is doing it, do it louder and more stubbornly. Or take a page from Blizzard and just polish your product to a blinding sheen.
Or just bloody do it.