10 February 2008

Journeys to successful art

I'm musing and building an article for the next issue of Astarte's Mega-Zine (use that link for a free issue). The theme is "interior journey," and I'm thinking about the process by which we create unique original art.

Sir James Dyson, the inventor best known for his successful vacuum cleaner design, talked about the creative process in the May 2007 issue of Fast Company. He said:
"We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path."
I think that's vital advice for any artist, but especially artists working with paper arts, mixed media, and... well, unusual techniques and materials. Gin image transfers (on polymer clay), heating fiber with a controlled flame, and myriad other innovative art techniques came about only because someone was willing to do things the "wrong" way.

I'm looking at my current art, and finding "wrong" approaches to it. That can be a challenge. After all, in grade school, many of us learned the peril of doing things "wrong." Censure in school became job loss when we did things "wrong" in the workplace. There's also the expense of "wasting" materials as an artist.

I put all of those in quotation marks because doing things the wrong way leads to breakthrough discoveries that make your art unique. And, there's nothing wasteful about using materials to achieve a greater, long-term goal.

Nevertheless, these kinds of experiments mean not only fighting ideas of what's wrong, but also accepting our apparent failures. That's not easy, but -- as Dyson learned as he faced 5, 125 failures when designing his vacuum cleaner -- being willing to fail may be the only path to success.

A truism starts, "if you do what you've always done..." It urges people to do different things to achieve different results.

Well, if you limit yourself to the mundane, average, safe and normal, you'll never reach greatness. Expanding your activities to include what's "wrong" can widen your spectrum of results. That's the path to art that's brilliant, great, and a triumph.


Blogger iHanna said...

Just copied this line because I liked it so:

"Because the stuff we don't plan to make is always better than the stuff we plan to make."

from this blog;


5:21 AM  

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