So...this is well overdue. It's been a whole year and more since my last journal entry here. That was a troubling time. Artistically, existentially. The digital and irl world was eating away at me and my productivity had hit a real low.
Well, the good news is that in 2015 I managed to turn that around in some small but important ways. Yay! I was more compulsively productive than I'd been since my teens, though you'd never know that from my minimal presence here! I started working more on a smaller scale, almost like setting myself tiny, achievable goals. Most nights after long, creatively demanding days at work I would stay up at my desk all night working on little fleeting thoughts. All the while in the background I was spending months and months of weekends working on a large scale decorative mural in a bar/restaurant. Totally out of my comfort zone there. But last year for me was really about the small drawings, paintings and sketches, of which I built quite a collection. Here's a shot I took of a few of the things from last year (some not yet finished):
So why didn't I upload much at all to DeviantArt?
These nightly steps forward were a reaction to the pressure I felt to produce what I've come to refer to as "monumental" pieces. Artworks that involve many days of arduous labour and meticulous care, and where that fact being visually apparent forms part of their appeal. I love those kinds of works and always will, but it's not the only way to make art. And that pressure can be stultifying for an artist. As I was going through these thoughts, it became clear that DeviantArt, which had been so instrumental in the beginning to my productivity and identity as an artist, was actually making that pressure worse. It's self-imposed pressure, of course. But I feel in some ways this place is set up for that. The traditional artwork that reaches out to people (that isn't fanart or manga or any of the inexplicably popular niche interests) is generally, and understandably, the "monumental" stuff. Not always, every now and then there's a simple, beautiful idea that works its way to the surface. But even the act of submitting artwork carries with it the baggage of knowing that it's going out to all your watchers, potentially annoying them, potentially disappointing them. In some ways anything goes here, and that's great for some people. There are artists across the whole spectrum of age groups, skill levels, experience. But for some reason my little drawings and paintings didn't feel right for here. I felt embarrassed by them being "exhibited" in my DA gallery.
Combine this with dwindling engagement on the site in general. People still come across my work every day, which I'll never take for granted. But gone are the days when you could upload work and your watchers would actually see it. Is it just me, or have you noticed this as well? Am I just too inactive? I feel now the only way to reach a large cross-section of people is to submit my art to groups. Millions, and millions of groups. Faceless people ticking boxes and arbitrarily categorising. I'd guess that groups, along with the restructuring (overcomplication) of the site are the reasons why fewer people see artwork uploaded directly by the people they watch.
As my mind was churning through all these thoughts like a second-hand blender, another thing was happening – I was immersing myself in Instagram. The rules there are so totally different to DeviantArt. Half finished sketches, tiny drawings and fleeting thoughts sat alongside the "monuments" as equals. Put this down to the intrinsic "lifestyle" aspect of Insta, where the artist's process is as interesting as the final result, or the fact that small pieces work well because they're viewed as small squares on a small screen, or that there's a level of transience and insignificance to posts as it's common to upload something every day. There are good and bad things about all those things. But either way, I felt the work I was doing finally had an appropriate platform (other than Facebook, which is less tolerating of such constant updates and where your audience is severely limited by the evil Facebook powers that desperately want you to pay money to reach your own fans ). On Instagram I have a pretty modest amount of followers, but seem to reach far more people. I'm sure this won't last, as it's been bought by Facebook and is steadily being monetised. But at the moment it's the best chance I've got at reaching people, even if it is just at a surface level.
(See my Instagram page here )
People are weird. Artists are weird. Why should any of this have any bearing on my work you might ask? Well...everyone's different, let me qualify everything with that first, haha. But I think exhibition, critique and feedback, validation, reaction and an audience should all feature in any serious artist's life. What is an artist without an audience? In my opinion: incomplete. Sure, you can make work for yourself and only yourself, and it will be just as beautiful an act. But an audience in their interpretation of a work also creates, and perpetuates the further creation of art. Art is intent, comment, observation, reflection, digestion, expression. It's communal, participatory, social, human, political. Its magic lies in human interconnectedness, if not always in its creation then surely in its reception. That's what makes it interesting and worth doing for me. If everyone kept their art a secret from the world, then it would just cease to exist as culture.
I feel like I've wandered waaaay off track. This is what happens when I wait a year to say something, haha.
TL;DR I was somewhat paralysed artistically in 2014 // social media fascinates and frustrates me // I started making smaller, less "important" works and sketches in 2015 almost every night to get my productivity back on track and get outside of my own head // it worked // I'm more into Instagram as a platform for displaying the whole picture of me as an artist // I'll still upload to DA and will try to include more new work even if I think it's not "worthy" // my next plan of attack is to maintain a steady flow of work whilst edging towards larger pieces // thanks for sticking around and coming by to hear me talk at you // I'm going to bed now!