Inner Battles of an Artist
Author, Joe “Boosie” Ferguson, Content Designer, AOC Community Media
Hello everyone! Welcome to my attempt at a blog entry. Today i’d like to chat a little about one of the many inner battles of an artist. How do you know when you’re done working a piece of art?
For me, I love to create an many levels. I strongly believe one of my purposes in life is to help people using art and creating to resolve problems both good and bad. I have God and all of my friends to thank for pushing me throughout life to continually inspire and support my crafts.
One of the never ending battles I think every artist goes through is figuring out when a particular piece of work is done. There is a very good quote by Leonardo da Vinci himself that states “An artists’ work is never truly finished, only abandoned.”, and I find this to be very true. As we develop as creative thinkers, we analyze and observe everything around us. We are a kind of perfectionist, even if our styles are more than messy. We have visions of how we would like to see things and will settle for nothing less. Its funny, sometimes when I ask people what they think about a particular thing I'm working on, and they nicely say they think it looks good, when I know it sucks by my standards. Even though I totally appreciate their point of view! Why can’t I just take their compliment as is? What am I expecting them to say? That’s just another one of the many battles floating through an artists head during these interactions. With that being said, all comments and observations are to help us build a cauldron of possibilities that we can apply as parts to the solution of the massive composition puzzle. That just means all comments are loved, welcomed and necessary :)
A good tactic for working on anything is to have outside opinions at key parts of the creation process. Using creative criticism can sometimes be hard to hear. That is something to get used to, especially when hearing different things from multiple people on the same idea that you thought you had vigorously thought through already. One very beneficial thing about being open to perspective is that it helps you grow even when you don’t expect to. As an artist you HAVE to let yourself grow and trust your inner gut feelings. Being open to this helps with dealing with it later. Letting outsiders view and help you understand what they see versus what you see and are hoping to show viewers can tremendously push your final result and aids in the message of your art. But not all info is good info. As an artist, you have some training to fall back on that you must trust when welcoming criticism. Using the gut feeling at the right times is all part of the process and figuring out when and where to use it. Ahh yes, the mind game of it all. It is a fantastic circle of mind power that intrigues me to this day. That brings me, now, to the main part of this inner battle. When does one stop working on a piece of art? That’s a hard questions to answer. The short answer is NEVER Muahahaha!!, but realistically it would be a combination of running out of time mixed with trusting my intuition as a visual thinker to determine if it still needs something or if Ive added too much and what needs to be taken away. That is why, for me, its best to get the opinions of others or else you may never finish. Another useful tactic is to look at your art with fresh eyes. And by that I mean let your eyes rest for a duration of time away from the artwork you’ve been obsessing over for the last few hours or days. By doing this you effectively reset your eyes and the section of brain that processes visual information mixed with reasoning. This is super important to the process. As a person who does a lot of digital art work behind a computer for hours at a time I exhaust my eyes along with what I’m working on if I don’t take a break from time to time to “air out” the mind. Its a form of stretching. You use those muscles, you better stretch ‘em so they don’t cramp up on ya. We artist have a good sense of the value of our time and how to spend it. Often times I feel the more time I spend working on an idea or set of ideas will benefit the quality of the end product and help to realize the potential of it. And for the most part I find that to be true. The damaging part of continually working an idea comes from not taking the breaks and not refreshing one’s energy before continuing to work. You may end up overworking the visuals when it really isn’t needed. This is the never ending inner battle I speak of. Your really have to be your own referee and that takes your whole life to figure out how to govern yourself! The art game is a mental minefield, but in a good way. Knowing how to sweep for those unexpected mines can be a very beneficial thing in the artistic process as long as you know when and where to use it. And sometimes, those mines explode when least expected and can add to the art in another form. Another good way to help yourself out is to parallel one or two extra projects while you create. This can help you change focus directions while still being able to work. This breaks up the thinking process and gives the other brain cells a break. Be careful though, this can easily just burn you out. Breaks are always necessary no matter the workflow.
As an artist who uses a lot of basic forms and shapes within their work, I can truly say that it can be quite a challenge to figure out a visual solution to an idea that is basic in appearance but also needs to represent a powerful idea or set of ideas. Big companies out there like amazon, google, fedex and even companies like toblerone chocolate are some excellent examples of how a simple idea is the result of strategic placement of simple shape and color. Teams of visual artists produce pages and pages of ideas that are whittled down to a final result all with one goal in mind.
Well, maybe not all situations happen the same way. NIKE’s logo was designed by a design student who sold a simple swoosh sketch to them for $35. Although it did take her 17 hrs to create in 1971, when it works it works! To have a successful logo designed in a minimal amount of time is what a designer dreams of, but in the end, it’s usually not as easy as that.
Ok, ok. I’ll cut this novel short by ending with this. Art is more than just great, its powerful. It can reach your soul. Being an artist is not just about having the idea, but also about appreciating how outside opinions impact how people will absorb your expression.
Knowing when to be hard on yourself and when to let go and move on is a vital part of finding the visual solution you seek. Stepping away from your work from time to time will help you with seeing your work with a fresh perspective. By doing this more often than not will help guide oneself to the light at the end of the tunnel on that particular piece of work. Lastly, trust your artistic training, experience and gut feeling. Those rumbles are not just because you’re hungry ;)