Sunday, May 4, 2014

Before Work

I've always had a problem with what can be called branding. I like a lot of different things and have had a hard time corralling all those things into the same personality, or more accurately, into the marketing of that same personality. My artistic tendencies are varied, I'm at peace with all my takes and all my interests but the art world, it is said, needs things cut and dried.
    So I like making little books and I also like making larger ones. I have also been driven to understand the necessity for solid narrative. My complaint would be that I have a desire to incorporate all my interests in one and the same art project. How do I make a book that relies upon narrative yet also incorporates a myriad different styles and techniques ? There is the rub.
    This artificial problem only exist in the planning phase of any larger project. Once the work gets under way, things fall into place and what the story demand, the story gets. In the planning phase a veritable buffet of options buffets me about - there must be an abstract sequence, there must be some text, there must be full classic cartoon style for a few pages, there must be collage, there must be free form, there must be must be's. The list goes on and I stand paralysed, in front of reams of cheap paper scratched with half-starts, notes, sketches, thumbnails.
    This happens each time and signals the fact that I have to really start working on the project. I dream big, fold outs and cut aways. I want every facet to be fully represented. This is an ego game. I'm proud of myself. I like that I explore divergent tendencies in the visual arts. I want props for this. I want to make work that is unassailable. What I want is meaningless of course if the work never gets off the ground because I dream too big to accommodate a daily work routine.
    I see a pilgrim, moving through landscapes, shifting landscapes. I see interactions with creatures and magic. I see language games and psychological puzzles. I see formal structures deteriorate into shambles of noise and abstraction. I see abstraction build itself up into cohesive meaning. I see redemption through a willingness to engage with mystery. I see all these things and I feel like snapping my pencils.
    The only way any of these visions, this one overarching vision, will be manifested is if I get the good paper for the final copy, sharpen my pencils, treat myself to some new smudge stick or eraser, consolidate my notes into one pile and just dive in by drawing a panel. One random panel, probably of my character walking. Another panel will follow it and soon enough the notes will be forgotten and I will be on my way.
    I forget each time that I must trust my process. My process, roughly put, is devised between anxious planning and straight forward work. The work itself always, and I mean always, shows me the way. It shows me how to incorporate my love for gibberish or chakras, for lost details and shifting t-shirts. Before I know it, when I'm actually working, all my loves and all my desires make a cameo or even get featured outright. I'm in the storm before the calm, when ideas are whizzing about threatening to take themselves elsewhere, to some other artist who will honour them. I have to trust that they will come around when needed, that i simply have to get my paper cut to the size I need and start drawing a little character about to embark on a massive journey.