Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Tiny Studio.

I remember, when the great publishing ball got rolling, someone asked me if I had a studio. I did not. I was working at a table in my parents’ family room. I would spend a few hours in the book mines at the local bookstore, go home, set up my stuff, work a few hours then pack it up so as to not clutter the table for the next day. The notion of having a space where I could leave my stuff out, ready to work on at a moment’s notice, seemed like a pleasant dream.

For time to time, I would think about that. The dream of a studio, a place set apart from the world for the singular purpose of making artwork. On some level, that was the goal, to be successful enough to have a studio.

That hasn’t happened. And, for a variety of reason, which include things like moving to an expensive, urban environment, my work space has actually been reduced. Where I used to have the family room in the vast wasteland of suburbia, I now find myself working in about four square feet in a bedroom deep in the heart of city-filled madness.

Needless to say, I’ve modified my dream about what a studio is. What was once a spacious room filled with materials and the typical bric-a-brac of an idiosyncratic person is now a box which only contains the simplest tools necessary to produce greatness.

Which gets me to the latest incarnation of my studio. If you recall, way back in June, I was surrounded by a lot of weird people who were obsessed with WWII. More obsessed than me, because they dress up in uniforms and such and wander around talking to each other about nostalgic hooey. It’s weird and probably unhealthy. But anyway, they had a lot of a cool crap. And the thing I noticed, having never seen them before, were the desks built into the common army trunk. The flexibility of that idea is remarkable. Of course, it’s a game of limitations. Here’s a box, it’s X x Y x Z inches… what can you do in that space to make it a functional storage/workspace? I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Well, after seeing those WWII desks, my dad and I talked about building one. It wasn’t doable. The charm was in the vintage materials. Then my dad, while searching online, found a WWII box, sans innards. Of course I bought it and had it shipped to him. Which prompted the summer project of designing the shelves and letting my father work his magic with the power tools.

So allow me unveil the new studio.

Pretty cool. Now I have to figure out what is worthy enough to sit in those little boxes. Once that is accomplished, I’ll get to work at the tiniest of studios. Tiniest but coolest.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Patience or Passion?

It seems my summer of being hyper-busy will continue until Labor Day, which is driving me insane. If it goes on beyond that, I might just lose my mind. You have been forewarned of any future meltdowns.

But seriously, this time crunch is pissing me off. I know there are good aspects to it. I have to work faster and use more flexible media, both of which I find exciting and challenging. It keeps me from backsliding into ways of working which are just too time consuming for what I got out of them. But I will have to lay down the law and simply refuse to go along with a life of constant noise and activity.

As I am a restless soul, which we all know and understand, that last sentence probably sounds a little weird. But there’s a difference between me being constantly in motion with my internally driven bit of crazy and having to deal with, let’s face it, the meaningless nonsense we all find ourselves confronted by on an average day. There is only so much useless crap I can deal with in a day and as I grow older, wiser and more frustrated, that amount gets smaller and smaller.

Anyway, on to patience or passion. I was part of a small conversation this past weekend during which the old story about me not taking time from my work to do things like eat or sleep came up as examples of the patience I’m willing to expend in order to make cool art. I had to step in and explain that patience has nothing to do with my crazy level of focus. I’m actually quite an impatient artist. I’d love for things to happen in the blink of an eye. I dream of working swiftly so I can do more and more and more. Having to actually invest time into the process really slows things down. Oh to be one of those bullshit, conceptual artists who doesn’t actually make anything. Oh to get those juicy grants that come along with being a bullshit, conceptual artist who doesn’t actually make anything… We live in dark times, but I digress.

I had to explain that patience has nothing to do with my working method. Sure, I can go for days without pause or work as if in a vacuum, almost without effort. I don’t suffer any physical or mental exhaustion. There is no boredom, stress or cost. But that’s all because of passion, not patience. The simple truth is that I want to work. If life is a big game of “would you rather ___ or make art”, I think it’s safe to say that 98% of the time, my answer to is make art. As much as I enjoy the finer joys of this silly thing called life, my genes drive me to be industrious. There’s nothing I can do about it. The sun rises, I awake and my brain begins to whirr like a dynamo of endless dreams. Actually, quite often my sleepy time dreams get things going long before I’m even conscious. On good days, I have trouble knowing which dream state is which.

Patience is merely a question of self-discipline, it is remaining focused long enough to accomplish the task at hand. Passion… that’s an altered state. Either you get it or you don’t. And if you do, god help you because it is one, intense, beautiful mess that is going to rock your world

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Meet Bruce.

Seems we acquired a cat. Or he acquired us. 

Bruce has yet to help me with my projects, but I sense great potential. That said, he has been slightly helpful with batting my failed drawings, balled up and tossed sort of near the trashcan, around the room and under the bed. Out of sight is out of mind. Perhaps I’ve finally found an assistant who will tidy up the studio. Now, if I can teach him how to clean brushes, he’ll be worth his weight in gold. All half a pound of him.

Turns out switching gears from getting paid to interact with ‘the public’ is proving harder than I expected. That’s the problem with working for a solid 3 three months. That’s just enough time for a behavior, in this case being cordial to strangers, to become the status quo. It’ll take some time to establish healthier behaviors.

My focus remains on speed. I had hours to think my way through hundreds of ideas, but the reality remains that speed is the key to my creative happiness. I have a lot of projects I’d like to tackle. That means working fast. I have a lot of things I would like to do which have nothing to do with art at all, which means my art time needs to happen faster. And then there are my thoughts about my audience in this idiotic, digital age… I’m 99% sure that a nice, verbose novel, months in the making, would vanish, unread, the instant I released it. But something quick and interesting, made in a few minutes, might just might capture someone’s attention for a nanosecond. And really, if you can do that, you stand a chance of making your point. Otherwise, you are just so much noise in the endless din that is our modern age.

I’m still new to the speed obsession. I still have moments when I think of trashing the whole thing and just going back to the mindless toil of everlasting ink nonsense. But then I remember I’m not the same guy who did that work. My options have changed, my thinking has changed. My work must change as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where the remaining months of this year take me. My initial goals have long since fallen by the wayside. Being somewhat forced to take the summer off was probably good for my creativity, even if it did drive me nuts. For the first time in a very long time, I feel as though I have a clean start. Of course, the annoying aspect of a clean start is that there is very little to rely upon. The old tricks might not work in the new world. And the new tricks, they remain undiscovered. However, the beauty of the clean start is that all those nagging doubts and confidence issues, they are gone as well. They were attributes of the old world.

And so I am off to the undiscovered country… kitten in tow.