Pulse Points with Seth Apter, Post 1

The Pulse of Mixed Media Seth ApterPulse Points is a new series of posts on Create Mixed Media where five 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.

Today’s Panel:

Traci Bautista
Jane Davies
Linda Cain
Roben-Marie Smith
Lynn Whipple

Question #1:

What would boost your creativity the most?

Time seems to be the number one answer by a landslide. How often have you wished for just 5 extra minutes to finish a specific task or one extra hour every day to dedicate to art? “The most delicious thing you can have as a creative person is extra time.” So says Lynn, who adds, “we all wish for more time as a deadline approaches.” I have often daydreamed that the most successful Etsy shop would be the one that sold time. In a world where multi-tasking has become the norm and where we are all pulled in too many directions, time almost seems to be a luxury. As Traci notes, “there is never enough time to get to everything I want to do.”

A lack of time can serve as an obstacle to creativity. As Traci says, “creativity is overflowing in my life and with so many ideas, I would definitely get a boost from more time.” Lynn points out that time to actually work on art is important but so is time in between. “The chunks of time when you are not under pressure that allow you simply to fill your cup with inspiration is a key part and one of the great pleasures of the creative process.”

Until we can find a way to magically invent time, something that may come standard with the iPhones of the future, the best we can do is to find a way to better manage the time that we have. Like many of us, Roben-Marie has “been spending too much time on activities that keep me from being in the studio creating.” Her solution? “Taking the time I have and putting it to better use.”

For some people, more supplies represent the key to creativity. I know that I often get ideas by sorting through my batch of found objects and my pile of paper scraps. What is interesting, however, was the fact that two artists on the panel felt quite the opposite. For them, streamlining seems to be the way to go. Linda notes that “too many products and too many choices are overwhelming. Sometimes we need to just scale back. Limit ourselves, and start simple. When I do this, it’s a beginning of a creation. It’s a start.” In fact, with the multitude of new products constantly being released, Linda says, “it’s a lot easier to collect supplies than to actually sit down and use them.”

A “side effect” of too many products can be too much clutter. I surround myself with collections, art supplies, artwork, and art books/magazines. But I do my very best to maintain a sense of organization in my studio. This is important to Jane too. “The one thing that I would prefer not to struggle with so much is my tendency towards clutter. I do not kid myself that my art would be any better if I had neater habits; I just think I could spend a little more brain space on my art and possibly focus better.” Now that would be one big old booster shot of creativity for us all!

Question #2:

Do you find yourself influenced by current trends?

Artists are often very polarized as to how they feel about trends in art. For Jane, her opinion is clear. “Seeking inspiration from trends can be detrimental to the art making process.” She goes on to say that art “is about peeling off the layers of fashion, trend, influence of other people’s work, and finding what is in there, finding what is unique about your own artistic voice.” The importance of staying true to your own vision was echoed by every artist on the panel.

Traci says that the impact of “trends in mixed media or paper arts” on her art is limited. “I do love to see what my other artist friends are creating, but I really strive to be unique in what I do and create.” Similarly, Linda says she is “always interested in ‘looking’ at new trends (but) I don’t generally jump into something without plenty of thought.”  The general feeling is that while being aware of and tapping into the latest trend can be beneficial, simply following every trend is not.

While some find trends inspirational, others highlight the educational aspect instead. For Roben-Marie, trends are a form of exploration. “I want to learn about new products and art trends and how they might fit into the development of my style.” Jane notes that “trends can have an important place for beginner artists who need…a way in. Anything that excites a person to…create something can serve as a starting point to the creative journey, and if that is a current trend then it has served a great purpose.”

The educational possibilities of trends do not stop there. Many of the artists also saw additional benefit in tracking trends, outside of using them as a template for their own art. For example, Traci is “inspired by current trends in fashion, interiors and design (which) help me plan and develop new products/ideas that will be the next trends (in art).” Jane pays “attention to current trends in a general way so that I can format my workshops for maximum appeal.

The flip side of following trends is being the artist that sets them. Traci feels that understanding what is currently in style leads her to “experiment with what I think the ‘next’ big thing will be. She continues, “I am always looking forward to the next thing. I do my best to be ahead of the trends, to be a visionary and trendsetter.” And once the art community has taken on the new trend, it is often the case that the trendsetter is already on to something new.

We all have seen trends come and trends go. It stands to reason that the very existence of a specific trend at a specific time makes a statement about art, the artists, and the marketplace. Trends also speak to the excitement and energy that comes with creativity. As Lynn says, “I like the spark that you feel when you start to notice what appears to be a trend. It’s like you are ‘on’ to something new.” But similar to all the artists on the panel, Lynn goes on to say “It’s more of a spectator sport for me and a pleasure, but I don’t change my work based on it. Following my own instincts seems to work best.” I second that!

Be sure to check out Seth’s previous blog series on Create Mixed Media called Your Blog, Your Way.

The Pulse of Mixed MediaSeth 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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