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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Art & Fear

Cover Image: Art & Fear

Recently I've been reading this great book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

Below are a few quotes from the chapter of art and craft:

"Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they're on the right track routinely seek out challenges that offer the clear goals and measurable feedback--which is to say, technical challenges. The underlying problem with this is not that the pursuit of technical excellence is wrong, exactly, but simply that making it the primary goal puts the cart before the horse. We do not long remember those artists who followed the rules more diligently than anyone else. We remember those who made the art from which the "rules" inevitably follow."

"But while mastering technique is difficult and time-consuming, it's still inherently easier to reach an already defined goal--a "right answer"--than to give form to a new idea. It's easier to paint in the angel's feet to another's masterwork than to discover where the angels live within yourself."

"In essence, art lies embedded in the conceptual leap between pieces, not in the pieces themselves. And simply put, there's a greater conceptual jump from one work of art to the next than from one work of craft to the next. The net result is that art is less polished--but more innovative---than craft."

" real difference between art and craft: with craft, perfection is possible."

"Yet curiously, the progression of most artists' work over time is a progression from art toward craft."

"...your job as an artist is to push craft to its limits--without being trapped by it. The trap is perfection: unless your work continually generates new and unresolved issues, there's no reason for the next work to be any different from the last. The difference between art and craft lies not in the tools you hold in your hands, but in the mental set that guides them. For the artisan, craft is an end in itself. For you, the artist, craft is the vehicle for expressing your vision. Craft is the visible edge of art."

And from the section on fears about yourself:

"If you think good work is somehow synonymous with perfect work, you are headed for big trouble. Art is human; error is human; ergo, art is error. Inevitably, your work (like, uh, the preceding syllogism...) will be flawed. Why? Because you're a human being..."

"...imperfection is not only a common ingredient in art, but very likely an essential ingredient."

"For you, the seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you're feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides--valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides--to matter you need to reconsider or develop further."