So I've had this post (i.e. rant) bouncing around in my head for awhile. I haven't posted it because 1) I'm not sure I can really back up my opinion on this (and who really cares about my opinion anyway) and 2) it might piss some people off.
Finally today I decided you know I should post things that go out there a bit. Maybe I'm too wishy washy. Maybe I don't share my own thoughts/opinions often enough. Maybe I'm too middle of the road. Maybe I could have a whole series of posts that piss people off? ;)
Maybe. But I'll start with just this.
I think it's important to make meaningful work. There. Not too crazy, right?
Sure, not everything I do is meaningful. Some is just practice, some is just for fun, some is just crap. But the real interest is in work that's meaningful. It's interesting to both me and it's also interesting to followers/readers/collectors/other creatives.
I see artists on Instagram asking their followers to title their work. It makes me cringe. Yes, I know titles suck. I know they're hard. If just any random person from Instagram can title your piece, it's meaningless. If your work is meaningful, no one but you can title it.
Yes, we will all make stuff that's not meaningful. It's part of the process. But the goal can't just be to make something good. The goal can't be just quality; the goal has to also be meaning. When the piece means something to me, it's easy for me to make it mean something to you too.
Making meaningful work isn't easy and I certainly don't have it all figured out. I know it takes time to find meaning. I know it takes thoughts and feelings to get to meaning. Sometimes it takes research. Sometimes it takes experience. I know that meaningful work requires actual work.
That agate at the top? It started out as just practice, just play. I found the shape and the lines and the color interesting. So I decided to paint it. As I painted agates, I learned about them. Did you know that agates are formed when an empty pocket inside a host rock fills in molecule-by-molecule, layer-by-layer creating concentric bands? I found that pretty fascinating and so I read even more about agates. And then I spent some time thinking, thinking and painting. I was painting this thing layer-by-later, ring-by-ring, day-by-day, just like an agate would form. I got to thinking about how similar agates are to my creative habits project. I do a little each day and slowly I grow and change over time. Pretty soon, agates (and this painting) had a whole lot of meaning to me. They became a symbol for my whole project. And this one up at the top? It was the first one, the beginning. That made it sort of extra special.
That's just one little example of making work meaningful. Sometimes things have meaning right from the start, my Fursday and Monday Mournings projects for example. Other times projects become meaningful during the process. When they don't, I know they aren't right for me. It's a signal to move on, find something more interesting and hopefully meaningful.
Meaningful work. I think it's pretty important. People ask me how I've stuck with this four years and I think that's a big part of it. My work means something to me. That helps hold my interest. And I think that's what keeps others interested too.