Yesterday I was, what my boyfriend likes to call, “full of beans.” Why? Because for a while now, I have been feeling the need to re-define my impulse.
They say that the mark of a good artist – whether it be a musician, painter, photographer, or any other kind of artist – is that their work is immediately identifiable as their work. There is something remarkable and signature about it. When you see a Mapplethorpe, you immediately know it’s a Mapplethorpe. When you watch a Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson film, it’s unmistakably theirs. Such artists have defined their style so much so, that oftentimes, other people have sought to emulate it or satirically copy it. I think it all has to do with collecting specific remarkable elements that when used in combination define an artist.
This is a beautiful thing, and if you are able to attain this kind of consistency in your voice as an artist, you should be proud of yourself. That being said, there is also something extremely limited about being defined by your own style. Because one you define it, it’s not the easiest task to change. That is, unless you choose to take a cue from Picasso and establish different periods or create work under different artist names. However, this is a lot harder in the age of instagram, where our curated feeds need to establish a cohesive look.
It’s quite ironic that what defines a successful artist also goes against the heart of art in many ways as well. For once an artist reaches what they sought out to achieve, they should feel the need to continue to push.
These are the two things that currently plague me as an artist – how to re-define myself but remain cohesive.
Don’t get me wrong – everything I have done for the past view years has gotten me to a point with my photography where I am finally creating what I wanted to create. I am extremely passionate about “lifestyle photography.” But as I have spoken about on LFB before, we are multi-faceted human beings, and – in turn, multi-faceted artists. And I am more than just a certain colour palette and lifestyle photography. There are other photographic styles that inspire me which I would like to put my own twist on.
Recently, I have done just that with both my photography and LFB – by changing my editing style and fonts (here on LFB) to create something a bit more sterile, a bit more analogue looking, a bit more “artistic” rather than “lifestyle.” And I was in a really happy place with all of this. But as of late, I have felt that I have not yet pushed myself to the place I want to be – that I have attained my first personally set benchmark as a photographer, and now need to work towards the next. I also feel this need to create images that to me represent real un-curated life – and the beauty in this kind of imperfection. In addition to this, I feel the need to go deeper with LFB than just visually changing up fonts. (But more on that in a future post.)
These feelings of unrest can be frustrating, but in my humble opinion ultimately define artists from those who create. Because an artist is not just someone who feels an uncontrollable need to create but is also a person who needs to grow with their creations and push their boundaries and skill set. It’s in this unrest that we re-invent ourselves and re-define ourselves and this is exactly why I am still “full of beans” this Monday morning. 016 was “the year of the hustle.” No doubt I will still be hustling like hell in 2017 because that’s the only way to make it – but 2017 is going to be the year of impulse. The year where I take in everything that inspires me, re-establish myself, search for a way to stay cohesive but unbridled, and create create create. And that excites me.
And so I can’t say that I have drawn up a traditional list of resolutions to start off 2017 with – but what I can say is that I have this one overarching goal – to grow with my photography (and grow with my blog and it’s content). I am going to visit more art galleries, purchase more magazines full of incredible photographers and artists and articles, take more photographs, create more artwork, make more music, and grow as an artist. The result may be that I will actually blog less in 2017 so that I have more time to define myself as an artist and work on side projects. But what I can promise is that what you will see here on LFB will be full of even more substance and depth.
In closing, I would like to leave you with a few tips for being “full of beans” this 2017:
1: Consume voraciously
Consume, consume, consume. Not commercially, but visually. Keep your eyes and ears open. Take in all that is around you. Look up. Look down. Visit galleries. Buy inspiring magazines. Tape artwork and photography on your walls. They say there is no such thing as a dumb question. I say there is no such thing as dumb consumption. All that you take in will inform your artwork in some way or another – whether it be to help you define what you do not want to be or to inspire your work further.
2: Create Mood Boards
To create some kind of semblance with what you consume, create mood boards. Establish what inspires you and indiscriminately create mood boards. Then take in what you have collected and try to make sense of it all in order to inform your own work.
3: Create consistently
They say that practice makes perfect, but this is just the half of it. Consistency is the other 50% of the equation. I used to play piano in university and I remember my teacher telling me that it is far more effective to practice for 20 minutes a day every day than sporadically for 2 hours. The same is with any creative process.
4:Demand time for your art
Look, we are all busy. Not only must we work and be their for our family, friends, and partner, we have to jam in all the mundane daily tasks and errands and still find time for ourselves and our art. I’m not saying to skip showering for a week, but what I am saying is that you should not put your art on the bottom of your to-do list. Demand time from yourself and seek understanding from others.
5: Work in medias other than your own
If you are a photographer, explore painting. If you are a painting, explore instillation art. If you are a singer, explore electronic music making. Visual and auditory stimulation come in all different sounds, shapes, sizes, colours, etc.
6: Define yourself by no one’s standards but your own
Push the boundaries you want to push. Show the truth you want to show. There was a time before social media where artists didn’t worry about an image appearing on their instagram or facebook getting them fired. Now, I’m not saying you should be offensive for the sake of it, and I never condone any kind of work that promotes hatred towards others. But I do think that we have grown soft and I want to see people pushing boundaries. I want to meet the next Mapplethorpe in my lifetime – or become him myself.
7: Don’t let social media trends influence your creation
I love instagram and definitely use it as much as magazines and pinterest for finding inspiration. However, I think it is important to not let social media trends hem in your creation. Just because blue tones or super minimalistic white/black photos were really in last year doesn’t mean you should try to define your work by these standards – unless you truly find this inspiring. Push yourself beyond established trends.
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