Tuesday, 19 April 2011

block print your own wallpaper

in pale grey

close up: wallpaper design

succulent flower wallpaper

wallpaper design in progress

in pale green

We're getting things in motion in preparation for the block print your own wallpaper class with Harvest Workroom in June. Would you like to join us? All levels of printing ability are welcome including beginners. Let us step you through how to design and block print your own wallpaper. It will be so much fun! More info here.

Also, follow this link on Design Sponge for some Lynne Testoni wallpaper goodness if you need a little inspiration.

Friday, 15 April 2011

risk taking + creativity

light through paper stencil
How often do you take risks in your creative work? By this I mean do you find yourself mostly working in a way you're comfortable with, same method, same materials, same approach? What does it take for you to step outside your comfort zone? Are you prepared to take big or small risks in your creative work?

When I think about the way I work it's usually in quite a tight, fairly small scale way. I draw and print with quite a bit of control. But I love looking at loose, 'messy' drawings and love prints that are layered and built up in a seemingly uncontrolled (or loosely controlled) way. I try to push myself to work against the way I'm used to, not to try to consciously change my 'style', but more as a way of stepping outside my comfort zone, take a few small risks, experiment, play, see where accidents take me.

It's not easy! It can even feel a bit crazy. But it can be a lot of fun.

When I lived in Kyoto I knew a printmaker who worked in a very tight, controlled way basing his prints on intricate, finely detailed drawings. His prints were incredibly detailed and accurate. He told me he was in awe of another printmaker we both knew who worked in a very loose, organic, experimental way. She would sometimes do wild things like blow torch the surface of her woodblock to get a certain texture, or add chemical substances to the wood and then sandpaper them (or then blow torch them) all in the name of texture. She rarely worked by drawing first. She usually just approached the block and started. Her prints was quite abstract but very, very interesting. I was also in awe of this kind of risk taking. To her it was very natural to work in such a way. She probably didn't even see it as taking risks.

My point is, sometimes it's good to step away from the safe, the known, the familiar patterns of working. Sometimes happy accidents can often follow and new ways of working can open up.

What do you think? How open to risk taking are you?

Monday, 11 April 2011

how do you identify?

block printing
photo credit: Emma Byrnes

As I said a few posts ago I'm reading a whole of lot of stuff these days, most of it interesting, some of it mindblowing, and a little bit of it taking me off on small but pleasant tangents.

Recently I have been reading and thinking about artists, designers, makers and identity. Yes, that old curly chestnut. Things like where, how and when does identity form for artists and designers, and does it happen in formal situations (like an art degree) or does a lot of it happen informally (or both)? What goes on in the heads of artists and designers as we think about and form our creative identities? Does it happen quickly or evolve over time (a life time)? Does it happen in a torturous, painful manner? Or does it in fact happen with ease and confidence for some? Do key people influence this development? And does it help if there is someone mentoring us through the process of claiming of an identity as artist and/or designer? What does the support needed to claim a creative identity look like? And what are the key issues we battle with in claiming this identity (family expectations & pressures, financial pressures, popular images of artists/designers, cultural and/or gender expectations)?

Believe it or not there is hardly anything written on this topic. Lots out there about corporate identity, branding, marketing and identity, that kind of thing, but not about the stuff I've listed above.

I warned you my head has been rattling on this topic!

Anything to share on this or any answers to these questions to offer?

And in terms of your creative-maker self, how do you identify?

Friday, 8 April 2011

what are you working on?

spotty teapot circle
spotty teapot circle
spotty teapot circle

For me it's been this new giclee print in the last few days. And I'm happy to say I've been practicing a bit of letting go in honour of those words in that last post. I had an earlier version of this that I was almost happy with. But not quite. So I got tough on myself and culled it. Not easy to do but I do think it has to be done from time to time.

What are you working on? Experiencing any bumpy bits?

Monday, 4 April 2011

on creative process

screen prints drying
silk screen prints, Kylie Budge

While sitting in my doctor's waiting room recently I was flicking through a 1996 edition of World Interiors and came across an article about the English modernist potter Edmund de Waal. His work is deeply beautiful, simple and clean, and very influenced by Asian aesthetics. A simple sentence from the article struck me as being quite significant. To paraphrase (no, though tempted, I didn't take the mag home with me) de Waal is known for rigorous critiques of his work, which means that he destroys about half of what he makes after it is fired.

I find this fact about his process very interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, at the time of the article de Waal was working with an expensive kind of porcelain but nevertheless he wasn't afraid to destroy something he created. Perhaps he could afford to be this ruthless, perhaps not. Secondly, he focuses on releasing the best of what he can make (or what he considers to be the best), and nothing less. So quality is clearly important to him. And third, there is something deeply thrilling to me about the idea of letting go of the 'lesser pieces', the work that hasn't quite resolved itself (to use an art-y term), and being ok about that. Not tearing yourself up about it but just letting it go and accepting that it is part of the process of developing and creating.

Does anything from this ring a bell for you in terms of your process?

Friday, 1 April 2011

work comes from work

seed pod, illustration, Kylie Budge

One really nice thing about doing a PhD is I get to do a lot of reading. I mean this is how I'm supposed to be spending my time for the next 3 years, right?

A recent find has been a collection of essays in a book called Learning Mind, Experience into Art by folk connected to the School of Art Institute of Chicago. There's some very thought-provoking stuff in there about art, art schools, the art market, galleries, and the like.

One piece by Jerry Saltz (art critic for NY Magazine) called What Art is and What Artists Do has this great bit about persistence.

"Work comes from work," Bruce Nauman said. Artists: the number one thing is work. You have to work in times of doubt, in good times, bad times - work. In a way, you don't do your work. Can you pick your style? It partly picks you. There are certain things you decide, but certain things you don't. In a way, art is working through you. In a sense, you don't exist; your art exists. So you have to get out of its way and work. (p 30)

Now ain't that the truth? I think about the need for persistence a lot. It's a hard, but oh-so-pleasurable grind, the creative gig. When I'm having a difficult patch I get out the pencils or inks or whatever and just try to play. No pressure. No end product required. Just pure play. Some good music on, a pot of tea nearby and some time to just see where the ink takes me.

Any strategies you use to 'get out of the way' of creativity and 'let it work'?

PS. something amazingingly honest on this topic I discovered the other night in twitter-ville.