Monday, 15 March 2010

Preconceived Ideas

There’s a common belief, especially amongst new art students, that the creation of art is simply a process of coming up with a good idea and then producing it - the major challenge being the technical realization of this initial idea. The source of this conception of the creative process is not entirely clear but it certainly has a tendency to seriously restrict one of the most important aspects of all art forms which is that the process has the potential to reveal things which could never have been imagined beforehand. This is such a crucial thing to understand about art. As I've written before: "If artists end up where they expected to be, they’ll have only confirmed what they already knew and they’ll have discovered nothing."

So, whilst it may well be necessary to have some kind of initial idea or starting point, it’s also vitally important to give it breathing space and allow it to evolve – even if this means that the initial idea becomes completely lost. The measure of a great work is not what was intended but what was created; not where it came from, but where it arrived. This is one of the greatest challenges when working with deeply personal subject matter because there’s such a tendency to feel beholden to the original intention and the feelings which initiated it. As artists become more confident and familiar with this subtle process, they also become more able to loosen their grip in the certain knowledge that things which run deep come through whether you like it or not and the worst thing you can do is attempt to force them into existence.


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