What I Want & When I Want It
July 19, 2019
That title phrase makes me think of crowds of people chanting… “what do we want?!” and “when do we want it?!”. I went to an art portfolio review hosted by SFAN in May, and one of the reviewers asked me what I wanted out of my work as an artist. How do I convey that I am driven, determined, and relentless but still figuring out what I actually want?
I was educated in new genres art making, and that’s still my primary approach to my work. But ten years ago I decided to go old school by really learning how to paint. I wanted to learn to make really good pictures, things I could look at and share with people, not just a smattering of ideas and records of actions taken. I wanted to make meaningful things, I wanted an art community, and I wanted to have my work in exhibitions.
And so, I did all that.
Then I hit a wall. The demands of home life? Maybe. That to zero-in on my studio practice, something had to give? Definitely. What I gave up was staying connected with other artists and marketing my work. To top it all off, I just couldn’t do social media anymore, neither as a way of “keeping up with family/ friends/ acquaintances/ old friends/ new friends/ colleagues/ strangers”, nor for “getting my work out there.” And I definitely couldn’t tolerate depending on social media algorithms for feedback, affirmation, or opportunities.
I kept painting. And making screen prints. And poster designs. And animations. And many many attempts at pictures that didn’t make it into any completed project (yet).
I kept writing. I wrote blog posts, I wrote letters, I used text to distill political conversations, tried to understand Americans’ relationship with the president and with each other by personalizing it into a narrative. Where to put that text, though, what to do?
What do I really want? I love my latest series of paintings. And now what? I’m going to do the things I need to do to see if there’s a place for them because I can’t just raise my hand in the sky and say “pick me, pick me!” Back in May, when the reviewer asked me what I wanted out of my art practice, I only managed to answer awkwardly: “I want to have my art in spaces where regular (non-art world) people can see it.”
Even now I think that sounds pretty stupid. But it’s accurate. I work hard at what I make and I want it to live outside of the walls of my studio, I want it to exist for other people and not just me. I love to make art, but I don’t just make my best work for the sake of making it. I want to show it.
And while I’m at it, I have more I can do. With all the reading and writing and adjacent art making I’ve done, and because I have a couple friends writing books, I finally realized: a book! A picture book, actually! I want to make a picture book for grown-ups. And some for kids, too. I have an endless number of ideas. I want my work to live in a book, to be interacted with, to be looked at, to be read. And since it’s a book… it can be… affordable for almost anyone, which is also really important to me. I’m so excited about this, and I will use these blog posts to track my work towards the end product.
I am making a book!
And I want to finish my proposal this summer!
Signing off on this beautiful Friday afternoon,
Note: I downloaded the top image from Pixabay.com