Sunday, September 26, 2010

Building a Body of Work

We fall in love first with the pure act of creation. From there we chose a medium, such as clay, paint, metalwork. The pieces we make for sale are a consequence of an inner exploration, and that’s the most fulfilling context for creation. If you follow this path, what you create is a legacy that is distinctively your own, as Jonathan Fields so aptly describes. What you get if you don’t follow this path is a frustrating, jealousy producing, creative dead end of finding objects that others have made and trying to make them. In this world there is a great deal of finger pointing and reading endless marketing tips, and seeing other creatives as competition. The most threatening people of all in this world are the ones who are successful. Frankly, it’s not a satisfying place to be, and if you are a creative person stuck in this world, get out now! Put your time and energy into building a body of work!

A body of work is a clear, recognizable  path that you are taking with your artistic exploration and creations. To build a body of work,  just pick one thing that you like to make that you can make well. Make that with one invariable quality, and several variable qualities. Your same quality might be same subject matter, size, color, or utilitarian function. For example, I made these casseroles last year:



Here are some variations:

I also took the casserole shape in this direction and developed Keepsake Boxes, which is a smaller version of my casserole form, without handles.

A body of work is a path that you forge. You end up in uncharted territory, making things that aren’t like other people’s work. You begin to respect and even like other creative people, and recognize those who have also forged their own path. The challenge now is to continue to progress, to continuously move forward.

Werner Erhard once said, “Any idiot can walk a path when shown one. But out here, there is no path. The path is made by your walking.”

That’s what I’m talking about!