Thursday, March 01, 2012

Intent to Ramble

Over the years I've gotten used to showing my work to other people. Sometimes it's to clients other times it's to art lovers at comic book conventions. With the rise of social networks I find myself presenting my work to a larger and larger audience. Which is in part why I create art in the first place. I want to share what I create with as many people as possible. As I've mentioned in past journals and blogs it's what I believe is the essential building block of art. Communication. When I say communication I mean it in the broadest terms. Communicating everything from an emotion to an idea, in narrative form or as pure design. It's all about getting what's in your head into the world and hopefully in some form into another person's head. I've always been suspect of the artist who has to explain the intent of their art. I understand giving the details or the mindset behind the creation but when you have to stand next to your art and give it deeper meaning I feel like somewhere along the line you as an artist didn't communicate the message through the art itself. Intent is appreciated but in the case of art I have to believe the execution is where the "art" and the "artist" really exist.

The Last In Line

I find it amusing that when I show my art this exchange is what follows....

Person flipping through my art.

Looks at page with a robot.

Person: "You really love your robots don't you?"

Me: "Sure as much as anything else."

Different Person flipping through my art.

Looks at page of woman in tight fitting outfit.

Different Person: "You really love drawing sexy women don't you?"

Me: "Sure as much as anything else."

2nd Different Person flipping through my art.

Looks at a page of a character with a Manga influence.

2nd Different Person: "You really love drawing that Japanese style don't you?"

Me: "Sure as much as anything else."

I'm not being snarky here. I understand not every person who sees my art is willing to look at my entire catalog of work but at the same time it seems to me that whichever piece someone looks at last is the piece they believe is most representative of your work. I like to think I'm versatile as an artist so being pigeon holed into a certain style or artistic fetish always concerns me. Part of me wonders if the access the average person has to visuals through the Internet, TV, Games, Movies has made them passive just to protect themselves from the constant bombardment of visual stimulus. We are in someways turned off and separated from art just by the sheer amount of it we encounter. A person can't process it all so they have to break it down into it's simplest bite sized parts.

It seems we are in an era where people who enjoy art find it more interesting to interact with the artist than to interact with the art itself. When I say interact I mean they want a relationship with the creator of the art vs. a relationship with the art. In the past I believe viewers of art had a physical relationship to art whether it was by standing next to a painting or holding a printed version of it in your hands. Now I believe the online "gallery" has created a mosaic of a creators total art output and made that the basis for interaction. Giving way to an artistic "persona" that has taken the place of art as it was represented in the past as a physical object. It's the difference between seeing the Mona Lisa as a jpeg and standing in front of it. The underlying ideas behind the art are there, the composition, the technique, the drafting skills...but for lack of a better word the jpeg doesn't have the "presence" of the actual piece. Now imagine all the works of Da Vinci on a single page of a computer screen. The modern viewer interacts with an artist's creativity in total at a distance. The individual weight of the single piece loses it's impact and becomes part of the meta information behind the artist's persona. Data feeding into the artistic brand which is now the third person. You have the art, the artist and both together which forms the persona.

I was recently told that I bring up questions that I don't have answers for. Sometimes asking the question and the debate that follows is more important than asking a question just to give yourself a platform to give your opinion. In my mind that's not really asking a question it's just giving yourself an excuse to forward your agenda. In regards to what this idea of the modern artistic persona means in the digital age I really don't have an answer. In fact I don't know if there is any need for complete answers at all anymore. Maybe it's just about constantly revisiting ideas over time and continuing to learn and adjust your opinion as new information enters the equation. If anything we live in a time where information is liquid. It holds a shape for a moment and then just as quickly turns into something else. So perhaps our opinions should be free flowing as well.

Remind me not to drink before bed.


PS I am guilty of sexy, Manga influenced robots.


Steve Buccellato said...

I think part of what you're talking about here is first and last impressions. There are many thoughts & theories about the best way to present your work in your portfolio, but I like the advice of a recent teacher of mine at UCLA Extension: Start with your strongest piece, end with your favorite.
The idea here is that you "wow" the viewer from the start with your skills, and end with a great conversation piece; something you are passionate about.
You know, like sexy manga robots.

Karl Altstaetter said...

Good advice Steve.