Sunday, June 19, 2011

Studio Shot

I stumbled across a photo book of artist's and designer studios recently.  I've seen a few of them before, as well as finding studio shots in magazines or on websites.  There is something incredibly fascinating about seeing the 'behind the scenes' of creatives.  Its like the hidden birthplace of artwork, part Frankenstein's laboratory, part Aladdin's Cave.  Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed with the cleanliness of these studio portraits.  They seemed way too sparse, too large...too hygienic.

Nevertheless I wanted to show my studio in its awesome messy glory.  I have pretty much one of the best spaces.  Corner with window, a mixture of easel and table space, as well as being next to some amazingly creative, funny, and friendly artists.  During class time, as well as out, we bring in snacks, chocolates and baked goods (sometimes Home Made!) and munch away while sometimes getting onto the topic of art, but mostly discussing food-particularly Yum Cha.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Love In The Park

This print took me roughly a year to complete. I started it in February 2010 in the strange twilight time of ‘after University’ and before ‘Working life’. I think it was my one big hope to keep on creating as I had done previously so I sort of clung onto printmaking during that time. Also I used the print as a procrastination tool against sending out even more CV’s to people who didn’t want them.

In its beginning stages this work seemed to be one of those images that grow naturally with very little effort involved. It happens once in a while. When I say little effort I mean I got most of the composition down in two to three days of solid work instead of weeks to months of fiddling. Maybe because of that, or because I had gotten a job by that time, when it came to aquatinting (applying tone/shading to the outline on a print) something horrible happened. Horrible. So I took the rest of the year fixing it. Fixing it involved me scraping back layers of metal, re-aquatinting, not being happy with the result, going back and scraping it off again etc.

I learned a lot, and I’m thankful to people who gave me advice, complimented me endlessly and who took the time to teach me how to burnish, scrape and spit bite properly, particularly David and Quillan. I don’t think there is one point in any artistic career where you can stop learning. There is a point where you can start teaching, I think you can get a little uppity or a bit complacent when you reach that point…I certainly did. A small knock down is good for you once in a while.

So is sticking to your guns. Many times during the year people tried to console me by telling me to stop and just move on to the next thing. Or that it was good the way it was. When you know something can be better, when you are actually aware of what the potential of something could be, I don’t think you should stop trying. It negates all the work you put into it in the first place. I was really proud of my composition and my line work and I wanted to be just as proud of the aquatint. I got it to 90% satisfied (you can never get the full 100) and editioned it with the help of Jess Edwards and David. I’m really happy with the final image and I hope you like it too. This work is called Love in the park. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Phone photos

In this day and age the phone camera is like some sort of visual note taking.  In the good old days you would see something while you were out having a walk or driving your car and have a little idea bloom in your mind.  Hopefully, if it was good enough, you could retain it in your head until you got to a piece of pen and paper.  Now we click a button.  Not saying that either method is better than the other.  I usually have to use both to figure out what I was taking a photo of, due to my terrible camera.  These images usually clog my phone, making it go slower than usual, and very rarely leave it to inspire the works I first imagined when I took the photo.  But this is the fate of most ideas.  We scribble and think up ideas all the time, some flourish, others become cadavers.

Since I show process work and sketches I thought it might be nice to include some other forms of creative brainstorming or image note taking.  I hadn't consciously thought of it until recently.  What made me interested in showing these were two things.

Firstly I recently stumbled across the work of Stu Spence.   To cut the long story short Spence, a successful commercial photographer and writer, started taking photographs with his own bad phone camera but with great results.  What came out of rather accidental or non deliberate 'happy snaps' were what feel like miniature contemporary Impressionist paintings.  They still have a cheap blurry quality to them, if anything what would be considered their downfall turns out to be the appeal.  Some are stunning in their simplicity and colour composition, managing to be a little bit melancholy or a little bit foreboding; some are just generic phone photos.  Nevertheless there is the appeal of the authentic vernacular image in his work, which is something I've been looking into this year.

The second thing was an awesome post called How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 other things nobody ever told me).  Its an edited version of a talk Austin Kleon, a writer and artist, gave to a college.  Its neat, funny and painfully correct in my opinion.  Definitely worth a read.  The title pretty much covers the point that relates to this post.  That is, as artists, we usually steal ideas.  We see things and take what we want or like from them and mix them up with all these other little scraps and cut outs of things.  So to get really awesome ideas, you need to be constantly revealing new things to your brain so you have plenty to mix and match and multiply with.  He suggests reading, I suggest getting out there.  Going a different route for a walk, taking a new bus, listening to a talk show on the radio.  Seriously that last one is surprisingly good, at my last job we had the radio on all day.  Other than great music and general story telling we had a science segment and ideas used to go off like firecrackers, especially when you hear stories about lightening triggering doorbells before they strike.

Something we find quite normal these days is to take a photo of something that interests us.  I'd like to suggest this is similar to that type of 'stealing' Kleon mentions where we collect and store away things that interest us which then can be used in some way in the future.  So whether you use your phone camera as a note taking device or use those images with a final work I think it is an awesome tool to be added to an artist's repertoire.    

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mr Tulk in Melbourne

I was in Melbourne during the earlier part of this year to visit some friends.  Had a wonderful time but still feel like Melbourne is a holiday destination rather than a real place to stay.  Something about the cheap, logical and functional transport system, the abundance of cafe's, and the amount of art galleries to visit. (Though there was an overwhelming amount of video art at grassroots contemporary art spots)  Here's one of the few drawings I did while I was over there: too much social action and gallery visiting.  Mr Tulk was a lovely cafe, though the food was quite expensive for me.  It's part of the State Library of Victoria in the city, below is the address.  

Mr Tulk   
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000