As the New Year approaches I'm taking a good hard look at my own artistic vision and where it stands. Lately I have been concerned with the marketing aspect of my work, something that is much needed for a successful art career. Unfortunately, sometimes in the act of marketing we forget the art.
There's an endless amount of discussion over what constitutes the definition of art. Is it talent? Is it marketability? Is it fine art or craft? Does it need to be traditional or expressionistic? I don't think any of that is art, rather just labels for art.
Art is the vision of the artist, no more, no less. If something is made for the sole purpose of selling it is a product. Art can be a product but a product cannot be art. If that sounds a little confusing, well it is, especially when the artist is the one that gets it mixed up.
This photo is of one of my first sculptures after changing over to sculpture from painting. I had a vision that was all my own. I even had to create a new 'life form' to be able to express it. I called them Jammins'© and this sculpture I created was called 'Leapfrog'.
Now, my forte' in painting was realism. I can sculpt realist too, but that was not my vision. Perhaps a large nude or animal bust would be considered more serious sculpture, but again, that was not my vision. My vision was all about expressing an emotion...joy. I think I did that and did it well and certainly in no one's voice but my own. I'm very satisfied with this piece and I know the owner loves it.
But, not every one gets it. Just like everyone didn't get Vincent Van Gogh's paintings, not really a fit for the times, so to speak. So I stretched my scope a bit. I started turning mini-sculptures of animals into jewelry...people like animals and they like jewelry, so it sounded good. I like those too...it was a creative solution and I was still enjoying it.
Well, they didn't move quickly either. I know that lots of people like them, just haven't been breaking sales records with them. So I expanded into more conventional jewelry. I've done a few custom pieces that I'm quite happy with and have opened a new avenue of expression, and that's all good.
But suddenly I find that I'm thinking more about product than expressing my vision. Or maybe thinking about vision as a product...either way it's not good for the vision, or in other words, the art. I'm not following my vision like I need to be. I'm not expressing joy and I'm not feeling joy in my work right now and that is so not good for the art. Somehow it's become more about proving myself than making art, more about selling the product rather than the art. I haven't made a Jammins© sculpture in ages. And why? Because it wasn't selling well. Shame on me, how can I call myself an artist?
The New Year is just around the corner and so its time for new resolutions. I'm going to take my cue from Vinnie...he knew his vision clearly and even though he was never successful in his lifetime he knew that people would one day see it for the art that it truly was. As an artist, you sort of have to believe that to keep creating or else it has no value... monetarily or otherwise.
I see no problem with continuing to create in the newer directions I've found, but I need also to get back to basics. When you have a vision then you have to fight to make it become reality. You have to stay true to that vision or it becomes valueless. I'm all for marketing my vision, I'm not at all for just marketing a product. If I don't protect and nurture my vision then product is all I will have and the world is flooded with product and doesn't necessarily need more of it.
But I do believe that the world needs vision...it's not always a joyous place and perhaps a humorous little sculpture isn't going to bring joy into the world per se. But if it brings a little smile, if it reminds you that there is such a thing as joyful abandonment, then that is all I really want.