Unity From Piece To Piece
But it doesn't look like my other work.... Worrying about unity of your work from piece to piece is only a problem for the discovered artist. When you're still undiscovered, you can relish in the unexpected and explore everything. Why limit yourself to one single path when there are so many calling you?
Admittedly, I have an overabundance of paths calling me, and I regularly have to sit down and hold a conference with those temptations before I launch right in. Sometimes they have validity, but not always. I do want to set some limits in my life to keep me sane.
There are so many factors that go into choosing a path through an artist's life. Once you have been discovered, collected and represented, your clients have expectations, and that can be really limiting to your creativity. So while you still have the freedom to push your boundaries, go for it. Practice, explore, improve your skills, discover the heart of your work and don't settle on something prematurely.
I go through runs where l find my true creative center, producing bodies of work that touch a new level consistently. These are greatly rewarding periods in the studio. There is nothing better than riding a creative wave, especially when it's extensive and deep. That is the sweet spot.
But that high doesn't last forever, and inevitably I find myself puttering around looking for something to tickle my fancy. I get distracted by shiny things (not literally) or listen to a well-meaning compliment on a piece I don't love. It makes me wonder if my critical eye is out of whack. Would it sell? (That question should be right up there with the dreaded "Is it good?")
You know the feeling when you have not had a compliment on your haircut in a long time? It's perhaps time for a new one. I think the same about art. If I've lost the spark, its time for me to get back into the studio and explore. Push it further, or sideways, or even backwards! I have to remember what unifies all of my work is that I made it.
For more insightful reading, check out Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon.
This article is from the September 2015 newsletter. Subscribe to newsletters to have articles like this delivered to your email.