woensdag 27 maart 2013

Development of Easter hunt

Some of you may have noticed the Easter hunt I a am trying out this Sunday 31st of March. The idea to create a full skeleton of a rabbit for on a fridge developed in Summer 2012. I just finished a couple of fridge magnets and suddenly thought I could use many magnets to form a bigger sculpture. So I made few that consisted of 4 individual magnets:

Soon I wanted to make a complete character by using all the bones of a rabbit. Because I didn’t have one I put the idea in the freezer as we Dutch say. Soon I thought; ‘Why not make a 2D sculpture as a normal wall based piece of art?’ So the first 2D sculpture was born, with the sheep bones and plastic I already had:

This pushes me in making more 2D artwork, like this:

Now, more than 6 months later I combined the idea to do something with Easter and the old idea of a 2D sculpture for on the fridge. In the last 4 months I was already collecting full skeletons of anything. And now here it is:

Sadly, this sculpture will probably end up split among lucky finders, but I will probably make another one to sell. So now you see how ideas can spread, lost, come back and been crossed over to get a result like this. I have many base ideas that follow their own life and I regularly try to combine them. Yes, the possibilities are endless and this is exactly the reason why I get more ideas when I do more sculpting. Writers block? I am not a writer and I don't want to be blocked by words!

zaterdag 16 maart 2013

Trust in honesty: To hype or not to hype?

This is one of those days where I get really frustrated about how the world works, clearly ignited by the everyday struggle of an artist. Generally, people wouldn’t advise you to show weakness, difficulty or failure because it makes you look bad and people have to have this shiny image of you in order to make them by your work. Why? If you have this shiny image they will assume you actually are going for the stars in an incredible speed, breaking the sound barrier on the go and convince them they will become rich when they sell your work 10 years later. They trust that you are honest and want to believe that your journey will help them. ...or that your journey confirms that they can follow a dream too!

Trust in honesty, really? In a world where big corporations are manipulating us, banks engineer hidden charges, people setting up scams by mailing you? Yeah, so everybody creates this shiny image, mostly not by lying, but by leaving the failures out. If you think about it, this is quite ok, because why would you put energy in showing your failures? Fair enough, but people are in my opinion in a grey to black area when it comes to a polished truth about their success. For example; An artist might post a tweet ‘I have just sold 3 paintings!’, with enough hashtags to enclose 3.000 sheep. This artist might forget to mention that these paintings are 3 inch by 3 inch, sold for 5 pounds each to the same person and took him/her 3 hours per painting to complete. Wow!
The only subjects on the Internet where people express negative feelings are medical or complaints about companies.

I also know that small successes are big when you try to make it as an artist. Artists struggle and when I am not frustrated and see people hyping their stuff, I actually find it funny and sad. When I think about it, mainly sad that this is the way the world works, a world where we don’t take risks and tend to follow others like obedient sheep and trust the hype in its honesty and follow it. Those that do take risks only come in the spotlight when they are a success, weirdly telling people, that don’t like to take a risk, that there is no risk in taking risks…. Follow me? Well, just think about all those books that pop up before Christmas about success stories of people fighting their way up. People love those, but remember, with every success story there are 10 failures. Perhaps not complete failures, but ones that just had moderate success. The difference between book-writing-success and just scraping by, is generally luck, assuming that you work hard and have talent.

I have always gone my own way as long as I remember and I have discovered that going a different way takes more energy, society works like that. Now that I have started at sea level again a few years back, I am at a point where I by default have to follow a way on my own. No artists in the family, no teachers at art college, no hyped status of being a young emerging artist just because you graduated, nobody to guide me, just me. I also have only a small network of friends that might help and support because I moved to a different country. So who am I? Am I a talented artist or am I a financial controller that made a stupid decision to quit his job? Who would quit their paying job and dive into the unknown and uncertain? No sheep in its right mind would ever do that! So here I am again climbing up from the bottom and I now have the feeling I am halfway. I have successfully overcome several obstacles, exhibited regularly in different cities and have had a lot of compliments from people about how different and refreshing my work is. I seriously feel things are starting to move, but I am still not where I want to be and strangely, having progressed, makes rejections more frustrating because I don’t understand why.*

I think it hasn’t always got to do with the quality of my work. It could be that my work doesn’t fit their landscapes-of-The-Lake-District kind of profile, but it could also have a more subjective reason. This reason could be the path I choose to get where I am now, without any background in art. 'How can this guy make good art without listening to the teachers everybody else listens to?'** 'I might not be the best curator, but come on surely art can't come from the mind of a former financial controller?!' I have no proof of that of course and it could be my frustrated imagination. Frustration I just have to express, risking any chance of hyping me, the emerging artist.... uch... because I don't have this blog for search engine optimisation or selling my work, I have this blog to get all this shit out of my system, continue to make funny and positive sculptures that make people smile every time I show them during exhibitions where the curator does appreciate different stuff from and I'll remember all of you that approach me and my work in a positive way without quietly ignoring me! 

....next week I'll have finished a really cool sculpture! 

* You often don't get a rejection, your are just ignored.
** That could actually be the problem, mweeeeh, mweeeh (pretend to make the sound of a lamb)

maandag 11 maart 2013

An ambitious project: Grizedale sculpture

I have been asked to make a sculpture to display during my exhibition in Grizedale visitor centre cafe in the Lake District. The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal is helping me to push my development by asking me to make a big sculpture, bigger than I normally make.
Just the size would make it a challenging project for me, because it requires different materials and therefor a different way of thinking; out of my comfort zone.
I normally make sculptures that would fit in a square box of 30cm each side, often with bones as a base and air drying clay to connect and shape the sculpture. However, with this project there are two main reasons why making a bigger sculpture means new challenges. First, it would be too expensive and time consuming to use the same clay, so I am using plaster, which is a stiff but more breakable material than I am used to. Second, I use bigger and heavier bones and bike parts, especially the bike parts break off easily.
I have made this project even more ambitious to try and find a visually pleasing way to combine bones, rubbish and a playful style. So far thinking of combining work of Henri Moore with Roadrunner or Boccioni with The Ren & Stimpy show. So far this resulted in two models:

These models help me to bridge the gap a bit between my comfort zone and where I am heading. The sculpture will be a mix of elements of both models. I already had a moment of 'this is not going to work', but solved the problem! The whole structure was getting to heavy and connecting the bike parts was a nightmare, so I created two triangles to keep it all in place and it actually improved the design! So far I have been working on the front wheel and am looking for new bike parts to start the second bit.

The challenge now is how to create a cone that is strong and stiff enough so the plaster on it won't crack and can be connected to the rest without compromising the looks..... I feel there is another moment of 'this is not going to work' coming up.... To be continued!

woensdag 6 maart 2013

Coyote Compromise

How far should someone go to make compromises to get where you want to be?
With compromises I mean, in my case, adjusting my work so people understand it, galleries can sell it, etc.

There are a lot of variables, especially with sculptures. Sculptures tent to be less common and most exhibitions, galleries, pubs etc. haven’t got the facilities to show them. It was more or less the reason why I made my second skull specifically for hanging purposes. This actually turned out very well!  Besides being able to show them, you also have to consider how easy it is to pinch them. They might have a shelve or a table to show them, but it means they are still not mounted on the wall like paintings.

The other more difficult compromise is how much do you water down your initial idea and craziness to make a bridge between you and the average viewer. Or even a jury of an art prize. If I would decide to compromise, it actually isn’t that easy. For example, I noticed I have blind spot for how people would view dead animals. Where I would always approach and examine every detail of every dead animal I see, most people would probably look away at some point, I have been told. I also thought everybody loves to have a skull hanging in their house, but apparently I am wrong. It doesn’t stop me making them, I just have better expectations about peoples view upon them.

I always try to keep making what I like and make more of that part of my sculpture range that are more understandable or more practical for showing.

The hardest bit is getting your work viewed, considered and chosen by curators and juries of art prizes. I have no clue what the average art expert would like about my work, mainly because I don’t know anybody in art. I started this by myself and developed a sort of creative island around me. I often hear  that a lot of people talked about my work during an exhibition and I consider that a good thing, but I still don’t really know why. If this is a positive reason, would that also help winning art prizes? Could well be that the general public has a different opinion from art experts. Also, a lot of very well known artists weren’t understood for many years before they were labeled as a genius. Uhum.....

It all comes down to having confidence and a fighting spirit if you have something unique. Even if you, in my case, no clue whether I have something different, special or uniquely rubbish maybe. In every profession, the future genius would have been seen as a outlier, weirdo, freak, in the past, but kept going until people started to understand and saw the difference they were making. Any compromise would make the difference less significant. So, how motivated am I?

One thing I do know, Wile E Coyote is my example; never gives up, always has a plan, many lives and considers himself a genius with regular self doubt. Let’s hope I have better luck!

maandag 4 maart 2013

Another cartoon influence: Transformers

The influence of this cartoon creeped into my work very slowly. Other people noticed it in the more robotic characters I started creating like 'Cungo', a cyborg Orangutan. 

I watched this cartoon every weekend in the morning for a few years and it is the only real ‘good-against-evil’ cartoon that inspires me. When I was young I thought it was massively cool to think that ordinarily cars could transform into amazing robots. The concept of something that looks normal but has a hidden power in them has always fascinated me. I love it when an athlete shows character and takes home an impossible victory. Besides, I love squared shapes and mechanical parts in sculptures. I lost interest in the cartoon once they started to add insects and Dinosaurs; this change was far to random. 

I have made a transformer out of a lasagna box before I started making sculptures, I wrote a short post about it earlier on my blog:

However I would prefer to make on out of more solid material. I failed to make one that can transform made from clay. It was the same concept as the lasagne box one, but instead it being able to transform out of a box, it should have transformed out of a skull. I eventually used parts of it to create a static sculpture called ‘More Than Meets the Eye’:

This sculpture is based on the characters Cliffjumper and Ratchet. I hope I'll find the courage to try again, but it is very complicated to pick a skull and find place in it to fill with the body, arms, legs and head AND find the right joints to transform it. Oh, yeah, and it still has to look cool! If someone wants to commission a sculpture like that, I would charge a lot less of my time!