Saturday, June 19, 2010

Satisfaction is fleeting

I dream an idea
It takes form
It inspires me
I plan, prepare and research
I sketch, produce, and conquer
I love it, I'm proud of it, I'm pleased with myself
I hate it!
I start again
But most importantly I grow...

Satisfaction with my images is fleeting. It comes on strong and seduces me with euphoric satisfaction and pride only to peak in the realisation that it could be better. I'm not talking about simply wishing I made something better upon analysing it to death. Of course, we can always find weakness in something we have made and find ways to improve upon it. More so I'm talking about the fragility of our own satisfaction in our creations. Is it boredom? We look at it so much that its appeal dissipates with the waxing tide of its originality. Or is it something to do with the concept that every answer leads to a new question? The moment of creating something that was once an idea or a moment of inspiration leaves a void or a vacuum and a new idea must fill the space in our creative bank. We may not know what that idea is yet but there in lies the elegance of our fleeting satisfaction. It drives us to create again, to seek out inspiration, and improve on our previous invention. So in creating our newest work we also create our next idea. And isn't that exciting? A never-ending engine of creativity. As long as we keep ourselves well oiled, inspired and open to new ideas the potential is infinite!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bigmacs won't increase your creativity

I just read a great blog post by a photographer I greatly admire, Nick Onken, called Expanding Your Default. In it he talks about the place we fall back to as artists when under pressure. That place where we know we can perform to a certain level. Where we feel comfortable and confident. It’s the Bigmac spot. You know exactly what it will taste (look) like and they’ll be no surprises (no creative boundaries pushed). We all need that space because without it we have no platform from which to advance and improve. But in the same way as an athlete uses his or her fitness baseline as a platform to push it to the next level. So to do we as artists need to be aware of a our creative baseline so that every time we embark on a new creative venture we know we have to push beyond that point, work harder and improve.

I’ve been shooting a lot of new imagery for my portfolio over the past few months. The shoots have all been completely different ranging from cycling down mountains to shooting in lakes and swimming pools. Sometimes I feel like I defaulted, resorting to my Bigmac spot. That's in part because the challenges of using new lightening techniques or shooting in demanding locations mean that I was already pushing my creative skills to the limit. But I don’t like to default. I don’t like to keep composing images in the same way, use the same lighting technique, interact with my models in the same way. I’m relying on what I know is tried and tested rather than pushing myself. And that won't increase my creativity.

So what to do? Whenever I hit this space I need an intervention, something that can inspire me, or shift my gears and in doing so empower me to a new way of seeing. Sometimes I go and find new photographers work to look at or more often the work of designers and illustrators. I love cartoonists like Justin Bilicki. Whatever it is it’s a process and its rejuvenating. Its part of the magical journey of being an artist and a professional. We can always improve and refine our vision and that is the most important thing – being aware of the process, the journey and being willing to continually evolve.