Saturday, June 20, 2009

voice of the artist

Have you found your voice yet?
It is so nerve wracking, I see web art all day long, comics, fantasy art, game art, 3D movie art and movie special effects, animation, then technical art, CAD, electrical schematics, enough, enough, enough!!!

Findings ones own voice takes a lot of consideration and an assessment of your entire repertoire of skills and likes. If you've been down the road a while it is no easy task, but at least you can narrow down avenues by experience. Being an electrical drafts-person for years I've built up some technical bones. Some drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture exposure gave me some traditional muscles. Computer skills is in there too. Shake well!!

Oh, sweet spots of life, they come, at least in my experience. I was in high school, in my doodle times I used to draw houses, architectural renderings they were called. Just my luck I wondered into a lunch time open study hall. I heard a group of students harmonising on some Motown tunes around a table. When the singing stopped they talked about their latest exploits. A couple of them were into fantasy football with those vibrating football games. A couple were into drawing and designing comic book heroes and cars. One guy was into psychology and creative writing. I joined, though I couldn't sing, as the house guy. It was embarrassing awkward for a reclusive teenager like me and liberating because I was accepted as a fellow creative explorer with obvious talent. I have had many experiences like this to prove to myself, I was going in a good direction. I just needed to propel myself beyond myself. Take it from me, life concerns you, includes you, but is not about you.

There are a few tracks, train for your target activity come hell or high water or find your unique voice, express yourself. Of course you can just fall into it. I never had the dream of being a professional artist via an employee of some company. I saw the roving artist, semi-retired or at least appearing to be, free from constraints of deadlines, bosses and paperwork early in my life. Freelancing like a free range chicken and producing that highly valued output, unique and special. I am not striving for Carnegie Hall or a museum so I don't need to practice as if my life depended on it. But lacking the business side of art I had to get a regular job to keep on keeping on. Now I have to figure out all that business stuff so that I can continue to develop my craft and support my family too.

I am not an embracer of complexity, chaos, disorder, ultra realism, technical prowess or mathematical genius, yet they all have their place in art. I heard an African artist being interviewed years ago, it struck me when he said, "I just want to make beautiful things." This word has shaped my idea of art and my creative motives.

Africa, Africa, the roots of my ancestry, so I am told, the stories are so faint, someone did write them down, but they were not rehearsed in my youthful ears while growing up. Today they seem like myths and legends. Tribes are no longer the mainstay of Africa, families scattered by (slavery in the past) job seeking, education and travel today, has given way to very mixed cosmo-cities. Urbanisation and mixing with other peoples and cultures across the globe is all I have ever known. I joke, we were tribal, now we are urbal. There, I've coined a word, "URBAL". We are urbal and so my art is urbal. In America we sorely need to drop the hyphens. How long, how many generations will it take for us to be natives? We strain so hard to maintain our hyphens yet we effortlessly mix and blend our DNA. We get so origin proud, but two generations down the road our kids have the liberty from race constraints and social restraints. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, America is a melting pot, a stone soup. We old guys always say race, the next generation always says people/persons.

If you settle on Mars, over time you will become a Martian, yet in America you become hyphenated!?!

If your family has been here a while, you could say your family came from wherever, but you are de-hyphenated since you were born here and raised here in America. Will America collapse if our hyphens are taken away? I think the hyphens keep us from being Americans. We are afraid of being just Americans. We still haven't given up our tethers to other countries (King George is still laughing at us from the grave). We are still over proud and ruled by our ancestry, we are still trying to have our DNA stream be the dominate one, the winner. Our religions, cultures and politics all reflect this, in spite of the blending liberty we have. America is not free yet! We all need to let go, be Americans, then America will grow.

These are some of the thoughts that have shaped my artistic efforts. A maddening flurry of influences, an ocean of ideas, a history of what's gone before and being drowned out by the outspoken loudness of today's trends, the artist learns to filter, to quiet it down, to hear his own voice. For me it began when I disagreed with and was made uncomfortable by the things common in my generation. I discovered both choice and control over what I let into my world.
I drew a line on a page of my own accord. I signed my name under it. "I made that line", I boasted. Folks still ask, "how did you do that?"

1 comment:

popularart said...

I have always appreciated artists, and what they do. No matter the way they express themselves, it's a great thing that they do it, without offending anyone.