vrijdag 25 januari 2013

The importance for me doing art

When I arrived in the UK, I couldn't get a challenging job. I still can't. I refer to previous posts why. After 6 months being out of a job, I just started taking on small personal projects, like building a table or coat hanger. In August that year I decided to build a transformer out of cardboard in the style of the old school cartoon. I made it transforming out of a lasagne package. It took me quite some time to figure out how to do it, because there is limited space in a lasagne package to fit all the robot parts in and manage it to transform. Eventually, I got it working, but more important, I had a goal and something to get my teeth in. A few months later I suddenly decided to buy some clay and a month after that it felt right doing it.

If I wouldn't be able to create a goal, or a meaning to exist to put it more dramatically, I would have wanted to go back and continue my old job. Art for me is not just to be occupied, but to challenge myself mentally and intellectually. That I am not earning a lot of money isn't that important and that is an important realisation to have in a relationship. If one person brings in the money, the other might need to have other goals or challenges.

So if we are trying to get more equality between men and women, it is important,  to consider the position of the not-earner. The better the not-earner feels challenged, the more acceptable it becomes not to earn that much.

How did I come to this story? Well, I found the transformer while packing for when we move house. I am fallowing my main earner to where she got a new job. One of the other reasons I am doing art; to be able to move flexibly and continue what I am doing where ever I go.

maandag 21 januari 2013

Pressure to be a success

Last week was the week of the big Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah. I only want to say that is didn't have any surprises, but the sublayer was interesting. With that I mean, how he said things and which thing he didn't say. He hasn't come fully clean, specially on the involvement of others in the cycling world.
Anyway, I wrote a blogpost about cycling and banking. Funnily, a lot of cycling teams have been sponsored by banks in the past. The biggest were Banesto and Rabobank. Both gone. A Dutch journalist wrote an excellent piece about Rabobank cycling team (in Dutch):


One of the interesting bits is the development of the pressure to perform. Fuelled by a bonus culture, status and a strong negative impact when not having success. These things will always lead to freaky situations. The opposite extremity is total freedom and being mildly rewarded whatever you do. Strangely both can lead to special results, negative or positive and gives an insight how to motivate people or yourself.

I find this particularly interesting because they say that really special art will be created in the most difficult situations and I wonder whether that is triggered by pressure to perform or total freedom. What creates this freaky situation where we can do special things?
One of the examples is the people behind the bands that defined the music industry in the UK in the 80's. Was this a sense of freedom, finding out that their future would be crap and they might as well make something special without thinking about earning anything?

The reason I started making sculptures is partly caused by not being able to get a proper job, but I wasn't completely hopeless in finding a job. I could have done that. I didn't have the 'nothing to loose' mentality. Well, didn't have a regular salary to loose anyway, but I am sure I could have been able to find a reasonable full time job. This last bit puts more pressure to perform, because I am weighing this adventure against a boring life in an office with a lot more pay. Now I have....uhh had... a job with even less responsibility so my mind is more free to create sculptures. I would love to ditch those type of jobs too, but that would again be pressure to make great artwork.
How do I keep the freedom to make challenging art that has a big risk of not being liked, not sold, with a small chance of it to become a success? Difficult. For real freedom to create new stuff you need to feel as if you have all the time and money in the world. To realising them you need a bit of pressure. I  don't have the time and money, just the pressure. From time to time I try not to think about it and just make the weird stuff.
I find it hard to not go mainstream sometimes and this is often triggered by seeing less challenging art that sells a lot better. Yes, it makes me jealous and sometimes frustrated. It almost feels like you have to show, show and show your weirder work to your potential audience for them to get used to it in order for them to eventually buying a sculpture.

People have always said I have a lot of patience, well I am seriously putting it to the test!

.....is there EPO for artists?

vrijdag 18 januari 2013

What cycling has in common with banking

This has been bugging me all morning and preventing me to finish a sculpture... so I am getting this off my chest.

I have been blogging before about big companies, becoming too big and as a result creating this poisonous culture where shareholders value and profit are their only concern. The society is who pays the price. Some companies are so big and powerful, they have more power than governments and can influence them in how much tax they pay. It not, they leave, or find another creative way to account their profits.

Anyway, most of you might know that Lance Armstrong, formerly known as the most successful cyclist in history, had an interview about his drug use all those years he won the Tour de France. No real surprises there. Same thing as the bankers; blame the culture, no real remorse, lying during the game and destroying other people's lives.
In this case he blames his bullying and drug use on him having had cancer and the general cycling culture on drugs. A culture change starts with changing yourself and when you are the leader of the pack, like he clearly was, he could have changed that more than anybody else. He would have been the whistle blower with the most impact. Instead he kept on cheating, which he cowardly calls, creating a level playing field. That is not where it stopped, he also bullied and sued those who were trying to expose him.

I think it is time to loose a bit of the Anglo-American philosophy and be less focussed on the money, hero and shareholders value. I have been a controller and if there has been to much emphasise on just one control measure to improve things, than eventually it will start rotting from within it's core. There is know optimal way of organising society in the long run and we have become to familiar and relaxed about our short term focus on money. We need to actively build a better culture as a replacement for the decline in Christianity and focus more on long term goals. But there doesn't seem to be any leader in the whole of Europe that has any vision. They are all technocrats trying to solve money issues and technocrats don't have the vision to prevent other big events. Where is the leader we are looking for?

woensdag 9 januari 2013

Organising my life around art

The business model of an artist isn't about art really, it's more about channeling money from somewhere else in order to keep doing it. Now that I am moving, the available sources of money change too and I have to reconsider my options:

- Become a full time sculptor: Uhh, not really. Probably the least attractive option in terms of finance. Maybe a few years later, but I am just getting started with showing my work (1 1/2 year so far) and haven't lived long enough in the UK to have a decent personal network. If I would I think I have to make more artwork that has a neutral feel. If I look at work of other artists that sell regularly, they have either been around for a long time or have a more 'commercial style'. My work is quite specific, which makes it unique and special, but perhaps not that appealing to a bigger audience. BUT ANYWAY I WILL NEVER STOP MAKING CHALLENGING WORKS!

- Part time job in what I used to do: part time jobs in financial controlling are hard to find and I expect it will be difficult to get them with being out of it for 4 years. If I could, it probably earns better than the average part time job and means I can do a job that actually requires thinking. Love numbers.

- Part time job in finance admin: Less challenging, but ok. Most vacancies of all my options. Could be ok work, but admin jobs can differ a lot.

- Part time job in sport: Lots of passion for sport and is something new, although I have a lot of experience in it. Would be very interesting and even more if it was about outdoor sports. Haven't seen much adverts.

- Part time job in art: Same as the sport one, less experience, but getting more every day. Would work well with making sculptures. Not many adverts.

- I could also do something as an independent person, like doing freelance work in sport or providing services like being a mountain bike guide.

Writing it down helps, let these thoughts do their work and see what I think in a few weeks....

zondag 6 januari 2013

2013 : new year, new plans and looking back!

I have been making sculptures for 3 years now and started with absolutely no experience or knowledge whatsoever. It has been quite radical to decide to quit a career in finance, make sculptures and doing low paid work to survive.
Many people give compliments about my decision to follow a dream, but I wonder whether they have thought about the actual consequences that can make lief as an artist hard:
- Art isn't where the money is. Yeah, off course there are people making lots of it, but that is the only side you hear. 90% struggles. Loads quit.
- Art is a luxury product and I decide to make it in a time where luxury products don't sell well.

I think most people see every bid of success I get as a confirmation that they might be able to follow a dream too. So this journey has also become bigger than me, besides the fact I am at a point of no return.  I think potential employers wouldn't hire me for a finance job, because it has been a while. This clearly has put pressure on me. My ambition is in what I make and not in the low paid jobs, so if I quit I have to start all over again to get a good career going in a different profession.
This type of pressure can also change your enjoyment of making weird stuff I love to make. Really weird, but I have worked enjoying every bit while having this pressure and not giving in by making art that would appeal to a wider audience•.

But, I am still moving, things are moving and changing. I have managed to grow from 'secondary school' level to decent art and got confirmation it was a good decision not to study art. It has made my work more unique than the average graduate who is moulded according to the conceptual views of the average lecturer.

Further, 2012 has been a year where I enjoyed the many interactions with people about my work. So where 2010 was my start, 2011 was getting my skills on a decent level and getting my first exhibition, 2012 was about developing my art in particular themes and branch out in different types of sculptures.

What will I do in 2013? I might loose my job that actually brings in money. I think art is the only profession where someone has to stop doing it in order to make sure you can keep doing it. I need the money, but I have experienced that working more than 2 weeks full time has a negative impact on my creative process. So I have to find that job that 'works' for me.
On the creative side I need to develop further, in size and clever combinations. I still have so many ideas! I will finish making my biggest sculpture so far and I already have an exhibition for it! The second main goal is to create a commission I have lined up that might get some spin off, but is also risky. Third, I will do more with my street profile and leave more free art in the streets. Part of it is a project that hopefully will be visible in two years... patience!

Lots, lots and lots to do! If only I could do this full time without this financial burden!

•[small comment: it puzzles me. A while ago people on a forum were saying that a lot of artists started making less original or risky art because they got more success. I have a strong feeling I would make more extreme art when I get success. I would love to test how far I can go with this and won't be that pop band that start to play the average love song.]