Where is my artistic direction taking me?
Simple enough question… but something I have been struggling with for quite some time. Where is my art heading? What are my main influences? How do I want to get my art ‘out there’? What is my target audience?
The last question prompted my tedious pondering about my artistic direction. It happened during a marketing discussion with a few friends, it occurred to me that I couldn’t create ‘products’ (which is a term I hate being used for art/craft pieces but it serves a purpose within a business context I suppose) across a varied price range when I didn’t have any starting point; specifically I didn’t have a particular series of work which I wanted to carry forward and develop further.
Artistically I am at a standstill. I left University with a Masters Degree which taught me practically nothing, after using each three-month semester span to investigate a different area I wanted to play with in my art I never developed anything really thoroughly. I guess because nothing held my attention long enough (no I don’t have ADD) or I came to a standstill because I couldn’t see a way to develop my project due to the limitations of the facilities available to me or the limitations of the material itself.
I started working two days a week for a glassmaker not long after leaving university, I then picked up a second job a few months later Quality Assurance testing for a sandpaper factory. I know, totally glamorous right? The steel-toe-capped boots, dust mask and white rubber gloves are all the rage this season don’tcha know… ¬-¬
Anyway that’s what I have been doing for the last year and a bit. During that year I went a bit mad not long after leaving uni, having complete freedom and not having the need to explain my art on a deeper level (or make up some arty-sounding bollocks to justify its existence) I decided to make a flamingo-drawn pink hearse. Glass flamingo and laser-cut metal legs and hears made up my creation. I love it, it pushed me way out of my comfort zone and I was high with the elation of creating something just because I wanted to.
After that expensive little endeavour I cooled off a bit and settled in to work, work, work. I saved up, tried to find a house, tried to keep my relationship from collapsing, all the ‘normal’ boring real life stuff. Honestly sometimes I get excited about curtains, it’s just sad.
Clearly I was devoid of artistic motivation. Being in this rut for so long has made me question the reasons for my lack of development now I have the freedom to spread my metaphorical wings unhindered by tutorials and boxes to tick.
I have been reading a lot lately, buying arty magazines, trawling the internet and following social networking pages run by artists and galleries. Clearly my interest is still alive and it is very healthy. I tend to follow/stalk illustrators with a quirky or unique style, urban vinyl (also known as designer toys) artists, graffiti artists and glass makers (obviously). These are the areas I am most interested in and I always have been; I wrote my dissertation on the designer toy movement in 2008. The first three of these areas have a tendency to overlap, with graffiti artists and illustrators modifying designer toy blanks whilst some graffiti artists shift their focus to illustration as a way to make their work available for purchase and to create an income, after all you can’t really buy a wall and decent spray-paint isn’t cheap. Also most urban vinyl designers start out as illustrators but use the movement as a way to make their characters 3D and open out in to a broader market.
For a long time I have been trying to figure out a way to make my glass-work overlap the boundaries of designer vinyl (here I feel it necessary to point out that not all pieces within this movement are actually made of plastic) and graffiti-art.
I have thought about leaving small or even large glass pieces in public, the issue there is that if someone smashes the piece and hurts themselves or someone else then I wouldn’t feel ok doing that. On the other hand they wouldn’t exactly know it was me… and it would probably be their own stupid fault, and Saturday nights everywhere result in broken shards of glass littering town centres. Can you tell I’m trying to talk myself in to it? Also glass is expensive to buy/make etc so it would cost me a fair bit to do it, it would be worth it if I could glass-bomb the front of the Tate or something though. Glass-bombing sounds a tad violent doesn’t it? Whereas yarn-bombing sounds positively fuzzy by comparison.
The type of glass I would want to… deposit/leave/bomb… in public areas would also live firmly outside the box of what is considered a normal glass form. I would leave cute looking, brightly coloured pieces, most likely with eyes; something that surprises people when they touch it and discover that it is glass not plastic.
Fixing them would be an issue as well, for somewhere that they would definitely not be permanent (outside the Tate for example) then I guess P.V.A or no fixative at all, it would dissolve when it rained so it would have to be done in dry weather initially. This is England so probably not a smart choice. Wallpaper-paste might work… they would probably just look like they were sat in small piles of vomit though. For a more permanent position i.e. somewhere they could not easily be reached, I think a two-part epoxy resin like Araldite or some such similar beastie would work well, although it takes time to mix it up and the idea of ‘bombing’ is to do it quickly then leave without getting caught. I now have an image of myself sat up a tree furiously mixing glue whilst a policeman saunters along watching me to ask what it is I think I am doing. Maybe there is a self-mixing one out there. Maybe something like Bostick as it has a bit of give to it so glass would be less likely to shatter and if it sticks to the tree branch then it wouldn’t impede growth. (Clearly my thoughts about glue and epoxy resins are giving you a thoroughly titillating read.) I think I will be testing this theory in my local park. Bird-shaped glass blobs would look good sat in a row high up on a tree branch.
So the point I began with, or the point this is leading up to, I forget which, was/is that I need to explore my artwork and just have fun with it rather than trying to fit in to any pigeonholes or caring what people think about it. I am always interested to hear how people interpret my work because they see it in a way I have never even considered before, but this should not steer me in any creative direction because that makes it partly someone else’s creation and not entirely mine. Whilst in higher education I was always told where my art should be going or how I should make it more conceptual/more abstract/more developed/less stabby/less literal/less ‘out-there’. I was even told that I should maybe do something “a bit more normal” which I presume actually meant ‘stop using bondage pictures in your work because I don’t know how to deal with it and/or have no idea how to mark it’. He was my least favourite “teacher”. Well I guess he definitely taught me what I didn’t want to be.
This is my time and I shall embrace the whole world not just the metaphorical white plinth of societies’ expectation.
P.S. Higher education is a sham, don’t do it! They take all your money and tell you that you need to tick boxes to pass which steers your art, if you do go, my advice would be to (almost) completely ignore what your tutors say and plough on with your own development. This will allow you to take advantage of the facilities available to you on the course and make, make, make loads of stuff so you have some stock to sell when you graduate to fund your ongoing arty shenanigans. End Rant.