Sunday, July 17, 2011

You Came In With The Breeze

Sunday morning is favourite moment of the day. Since my boyfriend and I moved into a new place and now have a balcony, it’s felt even more special to me. I’ve lived in New York for what will be approaching six years very soon, and I feel that the experiences I’ve had here have been the most rewarding and challenging of my life, thus far. Experiences and relationships are extremely important to me, which might sound peculiar because I spend most of my time working alone, or alongside my interns creating both my commercial and personal work. I seldom see my friends, even those who I miss because of the time that I spend relating to my work in the studio. I have a tendency to fling myself wildly into a project, especially if it excites me, because these moments don't happen to me very often. I wonder if all the time that I spend alone causes me to wonder about things so much, or if it’s my constant wondering about things that pushes me to want to be alone.

"There are clinking glass sounds a few balconies below across the street. A tree blocks my view, but I assume it might be someone in the neighbourhood collecting bottles for change. The subway passes along the above street track, and the rattling and buzz of the wheels grinding against the steel rails makes me think of waves crashing along the beach."

The way that I work sometimes conflicts with how I describe my process. I speak about the importance of personal work and nurturing experiences within the present -- not being so precious with my final product, and embracing the idea that I can still create pictures, and art pieces for no audience other than myself. However, these creations as immediate and ephemeral as they might seem, are still tied to the future. It’s a strange dichotomy, to believe one thing, but also have this belief flex and depend on the intention of something else. When I work on personal projects, when I experiment and explore new media, or even when I choose to not finish a particular piece, these actions, these practices which are rooted in the present are done for a reason - yes, it's to have fun and to keep my practice fresh, but I also do it to affect (and expand) the future outcome of my work.

As I wrote in yesterday’s post (I think) grey is a terrible colour for me, and even more of a terrible figurative space for me to exist in. Black and white has always offered me more structure, and a kind of steadfast loyalty. When I give myself definitive rules, then it means my expectations can be met for the most part because I am the one who decides on these rules; however, once I introduce an unknown component, I can feel myself become a bit unsteady. In my career, I have been fortunate so far to have had a constant, that is my commercial art; my personal work is the unknown. I have learned from various sources how to promote my commercial art in a such a way to grant me some kind of stability within my business (i.e. compiling a mailing list, sending out promos, creating a website etc.) which is why I view this part of my profession to be constant because there is a kind of logic and method within the daily operations (of my business). That said, trying to bring my work to the next level requires more energy, strategy, and risk. These latter two properties become the variables. I don’t know what types of concepts will be received successfully by an audience, nor do I have any clue on whether or not a body of work that I am working to resolve will have any merit within the eyes of creative figureheads, but I know that this (personal) work must be done because ultimately, I do want for some of it to receive positive exposure. Grace Coddington, who is the genius Creative Director at Vogue said in the documentary, “The September Issue” (which I have seen about ten times already) that, “there needs to be a place to show… [my]…work, otherwise it’s not valid.” And in many ways I agree with her. Not that I believe this to be a blanketed statement, but a crucial part of me does conceive this to be true, otherwise I wouldn’t be a commercial artist. I want people to see my work, I want them to wonder about it, I want my audience to be engaged visually by it as well. And so, even though I sometimes describe myself as wistfully playing in the studio -- directionless and uncertain -- creating pieces that people might not ever see, I eventually want to arrive to point in which these pieces will be shown to the public regardless of how they fit inside the parameters of my body of work with which people are familiar.

"I went to sleep late last night, after 3:00am, and woke up just before 9:00am.

The mornings that I spent in Xalapa have entered my mind again; I can see them dodging in and out of my brain like children playing hide and seek. It’s coaxing in other memories that I have, specifically those about the time when I went to Europe. I don’t know why they’re here today, maybe I’ve been thinking too much -- working too hard, but these are the thoughts that are with me this morning."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Little Big Chinese Face

I'm becoming a bit obsessed with After Effects, but this is the best way I that I learn - through trial and error. This is not to suggest that I am not busy with my commercial assignments - in fact it's the very opposite, I am very busy. I have 1 illustration due on Monday + 4 pencil sketches, and 1 revised sketch, and then another 2 final illustrations which are due on Wednesday and another 4 due the following Monday and then another 2 due a few days after that, not to mention that I have night school, and a sculpture workshop to fit somewhere in between all of that, and a group show to prepare for on August 6th, at the School of Visual Arts.
But this is the only way that I know how to get my time in when it comes to playfully exploring new media, techniques and concepts: after hours, between jobs, or very early in the morning.
(Sometimes I get to the studio around 7:00am)
At this point in my career I have no desire not to create.
But at the same time because I want to take my career to the next level, I'm forced to create.
Well, forced is a bit of a melodramatic description, and it suggests something negative also, but it's not this way at all. This extra work that I do, this personal work is really what will help me to convince clients and the industry that my work is still relevant. I'd be lying if I said to you that I don't think about a time in the future when work will slow down incredibly. The thing is that I want to know that I am doing everything within my power to ensure that day will arrive later than sooner. I sounds paranoid, don't I?
To me I think I'm being responsible and realistic.
As I said, I want to take my career to the next level, and after ruminating over my options which have been informed by my experience and speaking to several people who I trust, I can't rely on anyone else to do it for me. Yeah, there are agents out there, but honestly I have lost faith in them. That's not to say that there aren't any good ones out there, rather it's just that I haven't found anyone with whom I have been able to partner successfully. The way that I see it is that nobody cares about my work more than I do. Agents can say that they do, but if they represent between 30 and 80 illustrators, then explain to me how they could possible spend as much time pushing your work, as you could do on your own. Yeah, they have connections, some better than others, but in my experience, it always comes to a point where you end up just sitting like some horse in a stable ready to race, but not knowing when your race day will arrive.

I create illustrations for both the love of it, and for the money that it provides for me. It's not wholly an artform to me, it's also my profession, my job, my work. If I could choose only the former, to illustrate for the love of it, then I would; however, it's impossible, at least for me (I don't have the courage) to only focus on projects that I want to create for the sheer fun of it because of all life's bills.
telephone bills
and after all they're all paid, then maybe baby I can chill.

* btw, that's my nasally frog voice reading an excerpt from a written piece of mine. And yes, the timing of the animation is off and looks sort of mash-up, but it's a start...
Play Play Play

Recently, I've been exploring animation. It was one of my first loves alongside drawing. When I was about 4 or 5 years old I used to make my own flip books. I would scribble within the margins of whatever thick book I could find and draw a car driving from left to right, onto a ramp which sent it flying into the air, and finally landing on a pile of poop. I thought this was incredibly funny, and I would draw this over and over again adjusting the style of car, and how large the piles of poop were, and finally how messy the aftermath of such a stunt would be.
C'mon, that's so funny.
...isn't it?...
The pieces above were done in both traditional (classical) animation in which separate drawings were done and then shot using a camera, and Adobe After Effects. It's ridiculously cool the amount of ideas that are circulating in my head right now, in reference to what I want to do with my work. Not that I have any prospective clients or individuals to pitch possible animated projects, but I'm really at the stage in a new part of my career? where I believe being playful and curious will take me to the next stage.
As for what stage I'm referring to?
Don't ask.
I've been thinking about it.
Once I have the words to describe it, then it will make the direction of the course that I'm moving in much clearer and will help to focus my work.
...i think...
I've always been someone who operates in black in white; it's the grey that I've always had trouble with. But over the years my experience has taught me how to negotiate and compromise in a way that doesn't mean having to choose and let go of one thing for another; trying something new is not about preparing to let something go later on, but about expanding on what I know even if it might not have an conscious, immediate or definitive application to my work at the moment. I compare these projects that I'm working on with conversations and dialogues that I have with different people.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

If You Never Try Then You'll Never Know

I'll be speaking at 3x3's Nuts and Bolts conference on Saturday, July 9 (at New York's Society of Illustrators) and will also be hosting a studio visit (in Brooklyn) on the day before. When I am asked to give a lecture, I oftentimes spend days ruminating over my past, trying to remember how things used to be. I have been working professionally for over ten years now, but it doesn't feel that way. It's easy to forget the past, and even though I pride myself on carrying some poignant moments that have altered me in, and in some ways, made me better? I still sometimes forget. Not that I forget the details of the things which have occurred, but rather the feelings that were present during those moments.
The beginning of anything new can be very daunting.
And so can the beginning of the end, or the beginning of a place that is in between the finish and the start of something.
But then again, if you never try, then you'll never know.

* I'm still learning the guitar during my drawing breaks - this time it's Coldplay's "Fix You."