Pulse Points is a new series of posts on Create Mixed Media where a group of mixed media artists are each presented with two survey questions gleaned from the pages of The Pulse of Mixed Media: Secrets and Passions of 100 Artists Revealed by Seth Apter. This post is the last in a series of six.
Today’s Mixed Media Artist Panel:
Is it important to you that others like your artwork?
A philosopher might ask, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” An artist, on the other hand, might ask, “If an artwork is hung on the wall and no one is around to see it, does it make a sight?” Just how important is the viewer to the art making process? And furthermore, is it important that others like your artwork?
It is human nature to want to be heard, understood, and acknowledged. As Kristen said, “I am human and as such it is important to feel accepted.” Therefore, perhaps the expected response to the last question above might be a yes. However, things are usually not that cut and dry and some very interesting responses were elicited from the artist panel.
Becky said, “Yes, it would be ideal if others like my artwork.” But for her, this was not motivated by ego. She describes her work as almost always reflecting “the positive side.” She went on to say, “I figure that if my artwork is visually pleasing then someone might take the time to look at it closer. And if they choose to look closer, then perhaps they’ll sense the peaceful optimism that I’m trying to pass on. It is my hope that I can use my artwork to send out good energy into the world.”
Kristen approached this question in a similar way. “It is most important to me that others gain inspiration from the work that I put out into the world. I always hope that what I have done ignites a fire within another to create something of their own, tap into their creative spirit and foster that deep desire to create art.”
Reflecting the fact that there are many levels to this question, Joanne answered, “It is and it isn’t” and for her, this seems to be based on the dichotomy of art as a business versus art as a passion. Recognizing the realities of the commercial side of art, she noted, “In some situations it is important that my artwork is viewed in a positive light. For years I have licensed my work to manufacturers. If the art of the products isn’t pleasing, the merchandise wont sell.” Joanne contrasts this with what she calls “being art.” She said, “What I create and teach is purely my own expression and it is what I choose to share with others. I was born to be an artist, and if others like it, great! My style isn’t for everyone, but it is all me.”
Overall does your family support your life in art?
Artists, like all the other people in the world, measure the level of support they receive from their families on a continuum that can run from zero to one hundred. No surprise, such was the case with the panel as well.
“To say that my family supports my life in art is truly an understatement,” said Kristen. “I do feel like the luckiest person alive as they not only allow me to have a wonderful creative space within our home but they nurture the artist in me at all times. They are all the first ones to lift me up on a hard day, cheer for my success and encourage me to move forward even when it seems the to-do list is larger than the New York Times.”
For Becky, family is also supportive. “My family knows that making art makes me happy, and since they like seeing me happy, they’re all for it. Both my husband and teenage daughter support my passion for creating art.” She added, “They participate in many ways [including] waiting patiently as I snap away taking photos.”
“Do they ever have a choice?” was the initial answer that Joanne provided. She went on to say that she has been “blessed with an extremely encouraging family my entire life” and even noted that her father saw the creative potential in her before she did herself. She has a large family and “they feed me with their pride. My family is much of my inspiration and because they believe in me, my creative business continues to grow.”
grrl+dog tackled both questions #1 and #2 together, as they were for her, so very intertwined. She shared some recent, personal experiences. Both her dentist and her chiropractor noted that she ground her teeth, something that she initially denied but ultimately reluctantly admitted. “Digging a bit deeper, I found a very angry little girl, furious with her family for ignoring her – for being too wrapped up in their own troubles to actually attend to her.” Subsequently, “pulling on the thread of the (artist panel) questions, unraveled issues rolling out of deep inner space. Guess what – here was my desire to be acknowledged and accepted. My little girl self was still so angry at my family, she was grinding my teeth into pancakes.”
Contemplating all of this sent her on “a soul journey – a time where art and growth collide.” She said, “A month ago I would have answered, ‘Hell yes, I crave everyone to like my art’ – even knowing what a self sabotaging booby trap that was.” However her recent experiences seem to have led her to change her thinking. “Art peels away the dross till you bare your soul. That’s what it does in practice and in the viewing. Be ready for that ride.”
Seth Apter is a regular contributor to CreateMixedMedia.com, the voice behind, The Altered Page and the author of the book, The Pulse of Mixed Media (North Light Books, Spring 2012). His two instructional videos, Easy Mixed Media Surface Techniques and Easy Mixed Media Techniques for the Art Journal are now available in the North Light Shop.
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