I want to address something that all creatives have to deal with at one point or another; work that turns out to be something we aren’t happy with or just don’t like and the feelings that produces.
It can deeply effect an artist when we go through a time of poor production. As artists we get fixated on making our work exactly the way we want it to be delivered. When its not, we say terrible things like, “Eh its not good, whatever I suck.” Or, “I hate that piece/photo/song etc.” This is a terrible trap! It can lead to a deeper creative block or even walking away from a medium all together out of frustration. There is an element of the the sunk cost fallacy to work like this. We think that because it is our work we have to some how find a way to save it and make it great work. If we can’t make it great work then WE are in turn not great artists. Untrue! Even more troubling about this line of thought is bringing these subconscious doubts to the table when creating future pieces. This will almost surely effect our work further and further, turning into a cycle that compounds itself in exponential negative returns. In my experience its best to try and see work like this for what it is; something that came from a spark of inspiration and for whatever reason, has missed its mark. Maybe its not our best work, but should it be shut away only to be cringed at when remembered? Not at all. It’s a very important piece of our process. If an artist thinks everything they produce is great, then they will never progress as an artist. On the other hand, if an artist is always beating themselves up and too hard on their work, they too will stagnate and stop producing. Keeping this healthy balance with our self criticism is unbelievably important. Our different inspirations for art come and go at an incredible rate. The only thing we can do is remain open to our senses, seize inspiration when it strikes and to fully believe that our best work is;
- 1. The work that is present.
- 2. The future work we have ahead of us.
- If we can treat our own work this way, and be kind with ourselves when we feel like we have failed, then our successful work is more rewarding and the failures are much lighter on our backs. We need to say to ourselves regularly as artists, “I am going to fail a million more times and I’m going to succeed a million more times. That’s how I’ll continue to learn my craft.”
I don’t think this poster design is necessarily a failure. I do like it, but at the time I was making it I got frustrated and I’m really not even sure its actually finished now. Either way, this is it. I made it completely out of photos taken near an avalanche we hiked across in Northern Washington. When we got to the area I was really shocked with how the trees looked like a spilled box of toothpicks across the side of the mountain. Snow having that much power is a pretty incredible thing to witness. So the idea behind the piece was to create strange relationships between the elements within it by using their sizes in strange ways. I loved this idea! So I got to work.
The first layer in the background, which looks like a craggy rock face, is actually a zoomed in photo of an old tree stump that was near the avalanche. The foreground is a shot I got of Ty and my girlfriend Brit looking tiny among the wreckage of the avalanche. The clouds in the piece are snow caps from shots of the surrounding mountains that I copied out of the photos and inverted for the clouds. Finally for the typeface, I added a layer behind the type of a bit of wood that was worn down and shined by water and the sun. I stretched the photo out to fit the size of the text and then cut out the text layer surrounding the typeface, leaving the wood to show through the letter cut outs. So all that is to say, a lot of work and thought went into it and it turned out pretty ok. To me it doesn’t do the idea justice and its not something I would deliver to a client, but it is what it is. This is just how this one turned out. And that’s ok.
Art is an alchemy of creating sensory experiences out of thin air. Momentary flashes of electrical signals dance across our brains at just the right time to set the fire in our engines and then boom! We create something, and here it is! In front of us, to be heard or looked at or read. Embrace it all for what it is and what it means for you in your path as a creative. The good and the perceived bad.