April 8th, 2009
badlittlemonkey just asked "Why do you make art?"
This got me thinking, here's the response I posted.
I do it for many reasons, and get involved in different 'artistic' pursuits for different reasons.
Digital photography I do because it's quick and easy, serves documentary purposes as well as some personal artistic fulfillment, and because it's really easy to share with other people.
Drawing I do occasionally because it's personally fulfilling. I have no pretenses that I draw well, or that other people would like to see the results, so mostly I'm sketching just to make myself happy. Sometimes it's to work out a shape or dimension on a project in a different medium such as...
The thing I find most fulfilling is woodworking, mostly because you have a tangible and functional piece of 'art' when you're done that will serve a functional purpose in the short-term, and hopefully outlive you. I'm sketching up a hallway bench right now that will be my first real fine-woodworking-quality piece of furniture, and with any luck someone will be treasuring it 200 years down the road. That thought gives me a sense of accomplishment far beyond anything else I can do.
Incidentally, this icon is a cupcake stand I made out of Birch plywood for our wedding. It was very well received, some friends borrowed it for their wedding at the DeCordova sculpture and art museum, and the event coordinators who work there were telling me I should be making those and selling them. Took me all of 2 hours with a jigsaw. Quite the satisfying sense of accomplishment for that art piece. :-D
So for those of you who make art and aren't on his flist...
Why do you do it? What itch inside you does it scratch, if it does? Why do you those particular things you do or use the specific tools or techniques or media you use? What do you get out of it? Are you more concerned with product or process?
and where does music fall into this?
Are you asking for you or for me?
For you I'd say: do you consider making music "an artistic endeavor?" If so, respond as such!
badlittlemonkey asked me why I didn't mention it, my response was:
"Oh yeah, that too...
Music is a TOTALLY different space and itch-scratching in my head, such that I don't consider it in the same way that I consider artistic making-of-things.
Making music with other people scratches my making music itch, it would be kind of like trying to explain why I'm a foodie to someone with no smell or taste. I think it's one of those things where you just do it to do it.
Having an appreciative audience for it is totally icing on the cake."
The "itch" thing makes sense to me as a metaphor because inspiration is an uncomfortable feeling for me; on the rare occasions when I create something, I do so to purge the sensation of something critical left undone. What makes it artistic is that I'm doing the thing for the thing's sake rather than an external need or impetus. Sometimes running across the street in front of a car on the tips of my toes feels artistic, and sometimes drawing doesn't. The reward for me is neither process nor product it's the change that the making makes in me. I get a different kind of accomplishment from making something as art, it's both needful and luxurious, and I don't know how better to explain it: art makes the universe make more sense to me, and if there's something I can make to add sense or beauty to the world, it adds sense and beauty to my sense of self (even if the thing ends up not being beautiful).
I wonder, if I had some skill I nursed, or some talent in a particular form of artistic expression, if that would change. As is, I feel roughly like a dog that has a vocabulary of 200 words trying to converse with a philosopher about the meaning of life when I make art.
that cupcake stand is very awesome. :)
i make things because i like making messes with my hands. i'm all about process, and this brings me joy. i like tactile things, though i couldn't really tell you why fibers over something like sculpture or pottery. something about controlling colors probably. and most of it is functional and heirloomable as well, especially in the way of the textile stuff/'quilts'
and also, nice (cupcake) tree!
|Date:||April 9th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)|| |
the long and the, well, long of it
I thought a lot about these kinds of questions a few years ago when I was reprioritizing. There are 3 main artistic veins in my life so far and it turns out there were vastly different reasons behind each.
Writing - I think I started writing because of an itch - there were things I wanted to communicate, feelings and ideas I wanted to share and language seemed the most accessible tool. Unfortunately, I became so concerned with the results that I lost the joy of the process. It became more about being a writer than writing...
Painting/Sculpture - I'll admit, I wouldn't say I ever had a need to paint. I did it mostly because I liked looking at paintings and every once in awhile had an idea for somthing I thought would look cool on a wall. I loved learning new techniques, and tried my hand at all kinds of things, but I wasn't very good at any of them so I gave this up because of a lack of results...
Music - This turned out to be my winner for a variety of reasons, but I think they fall along the lines of what you said about music above. For one, it's something I almost can't help but do. I write music constantly - in my sleep, while doing the laundry, on the train, etc., and every once in awhile I make it in front of my computer and try to capture it. I have to. It keeps me going sometimes, just knowing that there is more to discover, more to make is enough to let me know I can't stop being yet.
I also realized that music is somehow outside myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm always trying to improve my own creative abilities, and I've unleashed some sounds upon the world because I liked them and wanted to share them, but somehow with music my ego/ambition can take a back seat. I write music to hear it, to see what will happen, without thinking much about the result, yet the results consistently bring me joy. I'm not even sure if it's joy based on the personal accomplishment of having created it or just the music itself most of the time. The irony, of course, is that I'm not great at collaborating with other musicians, or even an audience...