Visit, Research and Artistic Identity
So, this week Kristin Boehm, Lawrence Alumnus '09, visited to talk about Art and the Day Job and life after studio art undergrad in general. After seeing her in two of my classes, listening to her lecture, and speaking to her in person it has made me consider a lot of the topics in her discussion and how they might apply to me.
Kristin spent some time being sort of jobless and confused like so many of us studio art students are fearing. But things turned around a bit as she started finding outlets for her art to continue, while she worked other jobs at summer camps, volunteer organizations and did freelance work, sometimes even for free. All the while she kept blogging, maintaining her internet presence and searching for opportunities. Eventually she got some recognition with her fiber art, entered some contests, and found herself a part of a small movement that might get her published in a book on the subject. But then none of those things really did anything that she expected and she heard nothing more about the attention she got from a blog post that generated quite a deal of interest. This was part of the story that struck me. It was echoed by the advice she gave us. I realized that this was the reality part that was so hard for people to grasp. Making herself more available and easily found through internet resources made it just as easy to go unnoticed and to disappear just as quickly as she had found some recognition. That is pretty sobering to think about. Even if you catch some break or get noticed like it seems everyone thinks is the key to becoming successful, it may not really last or accomplish much at all to that end in the day and age of the internet. So, maybe aiming for fame and recognition is just as unrealistic as it sounds even if you do become known for something.
Kristin also made me think by suggesting that looking for a job is a constant kind of search. She eventually found something that fit herself after accepting a temporary internship that got turned into a permanent position after she did a great deal of hard, but quality work for the company that hired her. I guess that is something I took from her story: you might not achieve success by catching attention through the internet, but by doing consistent, hard work, you may be noticed somewhere that you already are and make that into something better for yourself. I think that is a reasonable lesson and it is supported by her assertion that you shouldn't be able to take time to develop your art slowly, but you should look for work and other opportunities everywhere since you don't know what possibilities will provide you with a stable and rewarding position.
A few other things she spoke of reinforced things I have heard before. She spoke about setting reasonable goals and keeping track of blogs and internet sites (many of which she provided examples of) to keep up to date and motivate yourself. This is part of the reality of her concept that it is wrong to treat the rest of life after being coddled at a University with an overabundance of guidance, as a list to cross off or checks to put in boxes. It turns out, real life is not really like that even though it is often how academia trains us to behave. She also spoke about taking initiative and networking to know more contacts, which always seems to be relevant.
Consistency of artistic image--this is something I have thought about, but not very directly. I like to experiment and change my work a lot, but from a marketing standpoint and as someone who offers art as a service and hopefully will make some kind of money that way, I can see how I need to put more thought into making the manner in which I present myself reliable to viewers. I think all consumers want to feel a certain amount of trust in whatever they purchase so they know that they can get what they expect and will be satisfied buying a product without getting buyer's remorse. This is related to branding I guess, but you don't always think about that so much in art because so many people have a perception of artists being eccentric and unreliable or inconsistent, but I guess even if you are targeting a small number of people who desire that, you have to do even those things with consistency.
So that has made me think along with my presentation this week. I chose to present on a number of topics (I can't help that I want context for artistic references) including my research into video artist Jim Campbell. I found that even though he has some famous pieces, has had a lot of exhibitions/installations, it is rather difficult to find some background info on him. There isn't really a detailed bio even on his website. But then I realized that I didn't want to find that and I was more interested in the messages of his art and what they meant to me. After researching that, I think that is exactly what he means to accomplish. I can relate to that and I think I will consider limiting some of my personal information to make others consider the meaning of my artwork and their implications more based on what they think, rather than solely on something I might say about them. I also found I had a lot of interesting connections in common with Campbell who relates to ideas of Buddhism (and other philosophical/religious thoughts) and examines viewer interaction/interpretation, memory and time as recurring themes in his work.
On my project, I am working feverishly to complete everything. I am taking in criticism to try to improve what I have thus far, I am adding my songs together with the videos I have been constructing with narratives that I am rearranging at the moment, and my book will be here soon. I hope by the end of this week to have my videos nearly completed, so that I can make some important decisions on what I want to present at the public presentation of my art on the 11th and how I will present there. I may only show two videos if they stand out or if they are equally strong, tighten them up to three minutes each and show three. Then on Monday I will be able to burn dvds and get all those materials ready to be aesthetically (dis)pleasing and whatnot.
"Your story only tells one side, it's based on fact, but filled with lies"
Shoot and Burn