Lately, I've found similar realizations with my work and where it is taking me. I've written before on the importance of following one's passions and achieving one's goals in the face of adversity but I could not discuss the revelation in what makes my work mine. I think that that is an important step in the whole process of "finding oneself". And again, I feel that lately, I am beginning to grasp it.
Still, I find that I do question, doubt and over-think a lot of my working decisions in my art. I admit my paranoia in what I see out there in the industry and what I feel/desire to create. But going back to Adler, the one thing that I absolutely loved and was reaffirmed by was what he said about doubt and other opinions on your work. In his no-nonsense way of putting it, he simply stakes, Fuck it, just fuck it.
What others say about your work is not to be confused with failure. Far from it, one should be driven by it. He reembodies what Art & Fear was trying to drive home to us all over a decade or so ago.
And, to expand upon what Adler, or Bayles & Orland have already said, have your fears and doubts. Let your self feel them, ingest them, roll them over your tongue and leave them like a bad taste in your mouth. Go and cry and feel. But then put it all away and keep on creating the work you love to do. I have always thought that to become an artist one must acquire a self-inflicting abusive and vain relationship. Artists openly accept pain, they accept working through it, they take rejection, self-doubt, self-medication, and allowing other opinions to burden us in a way that we have already felt from ourselves. We do all of this and ask for more.
But I also accept that being an artist means to create raw emotions and desires within our work. That it becomes more than it's outward and soulful reflection, but also this profound and deep cathartic release that brings us closer to knowing ourselves better than our mothers and fathers, our friends, children and our spouses. Art-making is both utter despair and sheer jubilation. For me, right now, it is a continual discovery.
Adler discusses how it took him six or seven years to finally find his unique style in his work. I wholeheartedly believe that too. Just like how I believe that Sushi chef extraordinare Jiro Ono's apprentices go through ten years of experience before calling themselves shokunin—a person who embodies the artisan spirit of the relentless pursuit of perfection through his craft. (Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/03/jiro-dreams-of-sushi.html#ixzz2BCEMwbj9)
Time reveals many things about a person's work. I find that it reaffirms my passions and what I love in life while also showing me new possibilities. I have slowly been picking up on little things that please me or make me feel certain ways. These feelings lead to decisions and end up showing themselves back through my art. Songs, books, movies, dreams, feelings and personal experiences have surfaced their way and I see it every time I look at one of my photographs.
When I revisit my older work, I find themes running through them that still connect to my current work. I used to think that these were fortuitous accidents. My personal concepts and beliefs where very foreign and unknown at that time. I held them in some holy and superstitious regard. It is only with time passing that I see what I didn't before. And in some ways, my older work has transformed into something quite new to me.
In any event, Jonathan's talk was enlightening and reaffirming. If you are an artist, creative or just someone that doubts, you should listen to his talk.
Find his talk here, via 99u.
My reference to Jiro Ono is based from his 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
By the way, the image above is one of my first attempts at color separation. Gum printing really isn't a giant leap work that I've typically done. Six years ago, I had a color separation assignment in my undergrad. We had to shoot b&w film through three colored gels, develop the film, scan it in and register the image back to color. I love color separations.
Here's my latest. It began as a four layer gum:
Here it is a seven layer gum print: