Friday, September 16, 2011

Diagram of Progress

It's interesting to look back on your life and be able to see the physical progress. Not just in years and age, but in the actual changes. When you can plot the progression on a diagram and say "This is where I was five years ago, this is where I am now, and these are all the things in between."

My most recent round of unemployment was less difficult than previous ones, mostly because I quickly acquired a position working from home. I also felt as though the universe was sending me the very clear message: Stop fooling around! Go make art! DESIGN! DESIGN! DESIGN! I am attempting to heed that message.

I refuse to work in an office doing menial administrative tasks, or to sit in a room with a hundred other people chained to a desk by a headset. Those do not make me happy. They do not fulfill me, or sustain me. They make me tired and angry and frustrated, because I have so many dreams. So many things I want to create, and those jobs just suck out my soul in a slow agonizing death of myself.

Which is why I decided on grad school, but then realized that I'm not quite ready. Instead I am focusing my effort on gaining experience as a designer, building a client base to allow myself to freelance. I am finding productive ways of using my time to create. I'm putting together a series of art work that, if it all comes together, will become a huge display in a gallery as a solo show. I'm volunteering my time and skills at a local arts center, and I'm researching and applying for internships. These are all things that I could not have done five years ago. I believe they are things that I had to come to, they are things that are the beginning of the next part of my journey. A new phase of life.

I am lucky that right now I am able to do some work from home, and I am considering finding part time work at a bar, and also the internship (if I can get one). These are not things I could have done before, even a year ago. Even six months ago. I needed to reach this point with a clear realization of what I truly want and how to get it. 

It's encouraging to look back over the years and be able to plot this progress. To know how far I've come. It makes me believe that the only direction I can go is up, and that my dreams are within my grasp.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where is the Beginning

Since my decision to go to grad school I've received information regarding several programs here in Philadelphia. As I read through all of them I find it daunting. Each program is intense, requiring the artist to push themselves beyond their limits, to discover themselves and to create something amazing. I find it somewhat terrifying, as I look back over my own work and my own accomplishments as an artist.

I find it frustrating that when I think on what I have done over the last five years, the whole of it amounts to almost nothing. I have flitted back and forth between having huge dreams of doing something artistically amazing to not wanting to do much of anything at all.

I don't have a concise body of work. I don't have a style or a theme. I don't know what I want to convey, what part of me will be revealed in my work. I don't know how my own art will be created, and I don't know where to begin. The beginning is usually the best place to start, but where is the beginning?

When I would paint I would simply put color on canvas without any sort of thought. I would paint and paint and paint until the shape and colors came together to form something that I liked. However, when I would show these pieces to people they would argue that it is not concise enough. That there is no cohesive thought behind it, that it wasn't quite what it should be. That I should KNOW what it is I am painting before I paint it. Frustrated and uncertain I stopped painting.

Ever since then I've not created anything of myself. Anything I do is an illustration, a design, a pop culture reference. It is not a piece of me, because I no longer know how to express myself in art. My struggle is how do I find that? How do I express who I am? Why can't I not know what my art will be until I make it? Why do I need to have a specific style in which I create? Why can't my art be abstract expressions of myself, and why can't I not know what those expressions are before I start?

It is for those reasons, and others, that I am withholding my graduate applications for at least a year. I want to take the time to find out who I am as an artist, and how it is that I express myself and my vision of the world. I want to create amazing work and build a fantastic portfolio. This is not something I can do in a few months, it might not even be something I can do in a year, but it is something I can begin, and that is the important thing.