Monday, February 27, 2012

Do a lot of work

Ira Glass once said:

   Ever since I found this quote, I've been thinking a lot about how difficult it is for me to create things that I really love. Purely aesthetically, that is. I can love the idea, but hate how it looks. I become emotionally attached to most of my work, even if I'm not happy with it. I create these things out of thin air. They are like babies. Some of them I think are ugly. To a certain extent, I feel like I have little control over what comes out. Yes, I make decisions about where that tree goes, or is that bear going to be laying or walking? But stylistically, I draw what I draw without really thinking about it. I draw how I draw. I can't draw another way. Or if I did, I'm sure it wouldn't feel right. It's strange. But I often find myself feeling dissatisfied with the way things are turning out.

   This quote, in a way, has completely changed my view of art-making. I had never really thought that my taste level and skill level weren't on the same page. But it's totally true, and it's probably true for a lot of makers. My evolution as an adult draw-er has had a lot of ups and downs. In college, I was made to think that everything I made was very, very important, and while this was a lot of pressure, I also feel like I made really good work. I put a lot of time into it, and it was extremely personal. As a self-employed draw-er, I don't get this kind of feedback. I either get positive responses or I get nothing at all. So all of the criticism just bounces around in my head and I don't know if any of it is real or not. As a BFA student, I was subjected to/given the privilege of a critique every semester in which I put all of the work I had been doing for months on the walls, and about 30 of my peers and 3 professors would essentially dissect my work and ask me questions. It was extraordinarily scary and mind-opening.

   It's really hard to not have that anymore.

   I live a very solitary life. I work at home, by myself. I create things. I put my work on the internet, I take it to various craft shows around the Midwest, and sometimes I have an art show. I get polite, often enthusiastic comments about what I do. This helps reassure me that I'm doing the right thing. But sometimes I long for those critiques.

  I printed the quote out and taped it to my wall, because Ira is so right it's scary. If we don't just keep making things, just keep doing it even if we hate it and think it's terrible, we'll never get through all of the bad stuff. We'll never learn how to make things the way we want to make them. I had a drawing teacher who once said that you have to draw pages and pages of things, hours and hours, hundreds of drawings, just to get a few good things out of it. And he was right. I'll never quit, because I just CAN'T. I have to make things. But I take comfort in the fact that as Ira says, "Your work will be as good as your ambitions." I will keep making, and I will wait.

   We are our own biggest critics. I aim to impress myself.

1 comment:

Vincent Desjardins said...

I read this quote a few months ago and have thought about it on and off ever since. Thanks for your articulate blog and making me think about it again. I think I may have to do what you did - print it out so I'll have it as a constant reminder in front of me.