In Pursuit of Progress

To make any progress, I need to be working on something new everyday. By something new, I mean an idea, a drawing, a project that is not an order or a mock-up for a customer. It doesn't need to be completed. (I'm always setting design challenges I can't meet, so I don't want to set unrealistic expectations.) Whatever I happen to be working on, I want to plop down any iteration of it here on the blog. If I can hold myself accountable, I can go to sleep that night with the satisfaction that I'm another day closer to creating something unique.

If I intend to dedicate myself to this pursuit, I need to be giving it my attention EVERY SINGLE DAY. Maybe somedays that means I can focus on it all day. Other days, when I've got a lot of orders to fulfill, it might mean I only dedicate a half hour. But I gotta keep my foot in the door. Must keep inching forward. The entire time I've been at this, I've been in and out - often allowing months to pass, after which the inspiration for every idea has long gone (as Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic suggests can happen to ideas that don't get the attention they deserve). And that's to be expected. I can respect that. For most of the past 20 years up until a bit ago my priorities were reserved for my greatest creation of all time: my boys. Worth it, but no longer an excuse. There is NO valid excuse for not pushing the boundaries of my creativity. Embrace the challenge, try new techniques/materials, experiment with different design styles and color palettes, pull from new sources of inspiration. Go for broke! I may never hit the stride of my creative heroes, but I intend to aim for the moon with the potential of missing and landing among the stars.

This is a wall that I'm sure a lot of artist-based, small business owners hit. You create something, people start buying it, and you just keep making that thing again and again and again for years to come. Honestly, with a few very minor exceptions, the only time I ever design something new is when it's requested by a customer. And thank goodness for those! Those requests have forced me to be innovative and get the old creative juices flowing. Yet, I want to be the one navigating the direction of my art now. Super scary thinking about discontinuing things that no longer feel like they represent my current vision when they've brought steady sales for so many years. I just have to remind myself that it won't be a problem if I replace them with new pieces that I'm proud of. Maybe I can implement the same rule I follow for my closet. When I buy new clothes, I remove old ones before hanging the new. For the shop, this could mean I remove an old product when I have a new one to replace it.

A lot of artists have launches/drops/releases when they have new work. As someone who has not followed that kind of business model, it always seemed like so much more fun than the made-to-order business model. Although, it's scary to think of not offering the customized pieces that are currently the majority of my revenue. Maybe it will take baby steps. We'll see. I just love the concept of creating new work, putting it out into the world, and then moving on to create more new work with each release representing growth as an artist.

Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”    Andy Warhol

With that said, today I'm going to dust off this drawing I started months ago after reading Rick Rubin's The Creative Act: A Way of Being. In answering the question - Why make art? - Rubin talks about this impulsive reflex as human beings to create monuments during our short lifespans. Work that lives longer than us. It's an interpretation I recall hearing in a college lecture on the oldest known examples of prehistoric art made by humans. This desire to leave our mark.

"Michelangelo's David, the first cave paintings, a child's finger-paint landscapes. They all echo this same human cry, like graffiti scrawled in a bathroom stall: I WAS HERE."    Rick Rubin

(This is probably highly paraphrased... I read a borrowed copy from the library and only have my notes to pull from!)

I quickly laid this composition out while it was crystal clear in my head. Hopefully it's enough to pull me back into the vibe. I'm picturing a rough, vintage, Waikiki beach boys solid wood board, with the words haphazardly brushed on, in the glow of a tiki torch at sunset.

Like I said, these creative breaks should be about the art, the journey, the exploration. If it becomes something I can incorporate into a product for the shop, great. If not, it's another step in the direction of I don't know what. And now that this is posted, I'm committed.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published