Artists must be allowed to go through bad periods! They must be allowed to do bad work! They must be allowed to get in a mess! They must be allowed to have dud experiments! They must also be allowed to have periods where they repeat themselves in a rather aimless, fruitless way before they can pick up and go on. The kind of attention that they get now, the kind of atmosphere of excitement which attends today the creation of works of art, the way that everything is done too much in the public eye, it’s really too much. The pressures are of a kind which are anti-creative.
This relates to what I was saying in the last post, about how it’s important to be able to delete things: books or blog posts, if later on you decide it wasn’t the right direction, or you simply need to prune some of your experiments back to focus on what has worked best.
In many ways, the above description describes neatly my experience as an artist creating the AI Lore books. It started as – and completely remains – one big experiment. I didn’t know where it was going when I started, and the thing that remains exciting about it is that I still don’t know where it is all going. I’m simply learning, testing, and trying out things on the way, seeing what sticks, seeing what sucks, seeing what I like, and what other people respond to both negatively and positively.
I fully admit – celebrate, even – the fact that it is all very much one giant mess, all very much one work in progress that will probably never be finished. That many/most/all of these books constitute a kind of “minimum viable product,” the intent of which was always to make better progressively over time. I know they are sometimes weird (sometimes not weird enough), sometimes boring, sometimes half-baked, sometimes repetitive, sometimes never arriving to the point.
But they are all something. They are all part of the Grand Experiment of Doing, of trying, of finding out, of going to look for one’s self.
The pressures that social media places on artists are, I agree, one hundred percent anti-creative, especially those put on artists by other artists. The quote above is from 1969, but oh god how much more does it apply today than then. Where a single “mistake” (let alone 100 of them) can unleash the slavering hordes of internet-addled junkies.
This is why I deleted social media and went back to my own blog, with no comments. I’m free to make mistakes, you’re free to hate them, but never the twain shall meet.
One final thought here: in my brief one year stint at art school, one interesting exercise a drawing teacher had us do was: make a “bad drawing” on purpose. It’s nearly impossible to do. When you try, it ends up coming out oddly interesting. If nothing else, perhaps what I will have done here in the end…