Friday, 13 November 2009

Fear of Risks

A while ago i stated that i wanted to submit more 'wordy' posts up here - my thoughts in text and so on. I think i may have been inspired by other blogs i read regularly that are more text than image, whilst i guess i tent to post more photos than words. But anyway, for some reason i started to write about an experience i had recently whilst painting and felt the need to share it. So here goes - comments are welcomed. Feedback is appreciated!

The Fear of Risks.

Some weeks ago I met up with a couple of friend to do a spot of canvas based painting. Whilst two of us were cracking on with cans and brushes at hand, one was milling around, doing anything and everything but painting…

I asked what was up and it seemed that although he was enjoying our company and the chance to have an evening dedicated to painting amongst likeminded others, he just didn’t feel any spark - the mood just didn't take him. He went on to say that he wanted to experiment and the vibe wasn’t right on that evening; that perhaps painting experimentally is something he just had to do alone.

Despite being amongst friends that wouldn’t judge or criticise his work, he still felt uncomfortable pushing the boundaries of how he painted around other graffiti writers.

This brought up an interesting point that I haven’t really ever contemplated before – the fact that (traditional New York) graffiti art is all about showing off how accomplished you are at writing the letters in your name... ‘I’m here!’ ‘Look at me!’ ‘Check out my style!’ ‘Look at my letters!’ Graffiti writers spend years perfecting their own style and experimentation can, and will inevitably lead to an outcome that you are not planning for. This could therefore make the style you are publicly known for considered substandard to a viewer who is familiar with your usual efforts.

It started me thinking about the fear of taking risks.

The fear of experimenting with new techniques and trying something totally different stunts the growth of the graffiti sub-culture, because either consciously or subconsciously there is a concern regarding how an onlooker will perceive your artistic ability. Perhaps more generally, artists tend to stick to their known formula in the comfortable knowledge that the world will have the opportunity to see that they have reached a level where their style is recognised and (hopefully) respected. Hey, if it aint broke, why fix it?!

This all rang true to me personally when I gave it a little more thought.

I dedicated a good 10 years to painting the same letters week in, week out, with the sole purpose of having others recognise the style of my letters - and I did this whilst conforming to the ‘rules’ of graffiti. It was only when I felt old enough and secure enough in myself to cease worrying about judgements the onlooker makes, that I really started to feel progression with my painting in a wider sense and began to embrace the art of experimentation.


I can feel another painting coming on…


1 comment:

Felix said...

That sounds true to me, too – though I have no experience whatsoever of the medium you work in, I think it's true of most aspects of life.

For me, anyway ... I can'ts peak for anyone else.

When I was in my teens, I put more effort into my "position in the frlock" than anything else, or at any other time in my life ... I didn't realise I was doing that, but it was true.

Having said that ... I do (like your friend) find that, in my own areas, creativity is a solitary thing and not a social one. Not because I am nervous about taking isks with an audience, but because when with others I care about they are more immediately important than what I am doing. Some of us (including me and your nonpainting friend)are like that; some (like you!) are not; it's just one of those things that differ from person to person.

Howver ... it occurs to me that I never put up new or experimental work close to home, where people I know will see it ... I rarely exhibit close to home at all, in fact ... so perhaps the fear of risks thing is true of me after all :-)

I've gone round in a circle and ended up somewhere ther than where I started ... ah, well!

Very much enjoyed your post, and the learning I've done because of it: thanks