Do you have a motto or creed that as an artist you live by? What advice would you give a young artist that is just starting out?
I love to collect quotes. I'm constantly writing down things that I hear that inspire me. And a lot of them are not art related- they're just life related. Some stick with me longer than others, but I wouldn't say that I live by any of them in particular. I just like to keep them close by (in my studio, in my sketchbook, in my iPhone notepad, etc.) for bad days.
This is not your wedding. Its just a date. -- Daniel Graham
^^ My undergrad professor and mentor, Daniel Graham, told me this once about my undergrad thesis show and it has stuck with me. I like to remember it because it reminds me that I don't have to work with the same materials, or concepts all the time. I don't have to marry an idea. I can just date it for a while and when its time to move on, move on; or marry it or don't.
Just give it a year. -- Dr. Juliee Decker
Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important. -- Carl Jung
MORE. Thats the word that keeps echoing in my head as I think of ways to make a mess. -- Unknown
They think we are in a state of crisis. But we prefer living the temptation of every day, rather than fall victim to the idleness that makes life a series of cowardly acts. -- Emilio Vedova
Why do some people say, "Grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding. -- Betty White
There is no substitute for hard work. -- Shawn Barber
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Know what? Bitches get stuff done. -- Tina Fey
Afraid of everything, did it anyways. -- Unknown
Women, you see, only become interesting if they give you the feeling that something is not quite right. --Debra Condren
I could go on forever. I've been collecting quotes for years.
What advice would you give a young artists just starting out?
Well I think I'm still one of those young artists. But I've learned some things that I could share.
Don't show anything you aren't proud of.
Your work has to sit well with you first, before anyone else.
Always keep a sketchbook - put anything and everything in it.
"How much do you charge for something like that?" Answer: as much as you can without laughing. (recent advice I just learned- sound advice at that)
"I hadn't considered that. I'll have to look into it." - always a good response.
You can't please everyone. Some stuff you have to take it or leave it.
I WISH I HAD AN ASSISTANT!
I have once served as an assistant to another artist though. While an undergrad student at Georgetown College I had an opportunity in an art history class to serve as an assistant to Carolann Freid. Dr. Freid is a local artist in Georgetown, KY and unfortunately doesn't have a website. I helped install and prepare a large installation in her backyard. I don't really remember much from the experience other than artists are particular people and that I thought installation art was weird at the time (I was a sophomore I believe). It was fun to hang out in her gorgeous back yard and her about some of her ramblings.
I also was a gallery director assistant while in undergrad. That was a really wonderful experience for me. I helped with everything. Finding artists to exhibit, receiving, installing and de-installing work, sending thank you cards, data entry, errand running, etc. for the galleries at GC. I really enjoyed it but I'm not sure it would be a job I would want full responsibility of- a lot of organizing and planning- which I'm not bad at, but its not fun per say.
But, yes I would love to have an assistant. Taking applications for unpaid internship assistantship?
The artist you are is the person you are. -- Anya Liftig.
Today, I had the pleasure to meet artist Anya Liftig. She is friends with UK's director of foundations Rae Goodwin and has roots in rural Kentucky. The art graduate student organization (AGSA) wanted to bring her to campus for a lecture and studio visits. I had heard of Anya's work before but never really looked into it. The day before I was scheduled to meet with her I visited her website to get a sense of who she was as an artist. Her was interesting was my first thought and I wasn't sure if I thought interesting was a good thing or a bad thing at the time. One thing was certain, she has balls--some of the performances she does! Her lecture was great. I gained an deeper appreciation of her work and really enjoyed the way she spoke. She was a real person as opposed to a faculty member who might have an agenda (of pushing me in a direction) when I meet with them. She was encouraging during my studio visit. Anya told me to make what I like and what I'm interested in, not what I think the faculty want of me. She gave practical advice about what to do after grad school. It was very refreshing. I love studio visits like this.
Anya Liftig’s work has been featured at TATE Modern, Highways Performance Space, Exit Art, [performance space] london, Performmer Stammtisch Berlin, Dimanche Rouge Paris, Roves and Roams and OVADA Oxford UK, Chashama, Month of Performance Art Berlin, Eyedrum, Grace Exhibition Space, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Galapagos, The Flea, Performance Art Institute–San Francisco, Chez Bushwick, Socrates Sculpture Park, Yale University, Center for Performance Research, Lock Up Performance Art London, Debrillator Gallery, INCUBATEChicago, University of Wisconsin, University of Chicago, Vaudeville Park, Mess Hall, Joyce Soho and many other venues.
I sit and look at my work a lot and usually for a good amount of time. It just makes sense to look at work because sometimes its easy to get caught up in making the work and seeing it from a particular distance that looking is prevented. I like to be around my work when I journal about it too. Seeing everything as a collective can be very informative as well. While I'm in my studio I like to see current projects surrounded by older works too. This allows me to see common visual themes and the affects of new or different materials. As I stated before, I work under "umbrellas" that are related. Sometimes its important for the work to look visually related, other times the opposite is important. Having new and old work in close proximity helps me see where I might be going next or whether I need to backtrack.
If I'm in the final stages of completing a piece or body of work, I take it out of the studio to see it. Doing this, in opposition from seeing it in the studio, allows me to see whether the work is strong enough to stand without the history of the previous works. Is the piece a success by itself? What does the series need to help make the work complete? Am I'm going in a whole new direction- is this exciting to me? Does it look good? How does it sit with me? Is it finished?
In terms of cleaning my studio- thats always a task, even when its a small task. I try to clean up after myself as I go and sometimes I'm not very good at that. I usually know where everything I need is although it may not look that way to an outside point of view. I always clean up when I'm starting a new project. Or when I'm having a studio visit from someone important. Sometimes I clean up when I feel really stressed out about the direction I should go with the work (and sometimes my life in general). I like for the space to make sense to me. A work area, a drying space (for when my materials are wet), a place to store things that may or may not pop up in the work, an emailing/computer sitting space, and finally a clear wall to place a a piece thats close to completion. I like to rearrange the furniture and space every 3-4 months too. This helps me switch gears from project to project. Even if its something as simple as moving the orientation of the work table(s). I often throw things in the floor that I don't need, like paper scraps and such, but I try to clean that up soon. Sometimes I like to bring my dogs to the studio with me on the weekends and I like for the floor and couch to be clear for them. (Dogs make everything better-even bad studio days.)
Do I work on one project at a time or several? Graduate school almost makes it impossible to work on one thing at a time. Although I may be working on several things at a time they all relate to one another. I work under the same body of work pretty consistently. I call my big concept my umbrella, and everything that I work on fits under the umbrella in some fashion. Its difficult when I'm in a class where technical skill requires a lot of practice and the work doesn't relate to my umbrella- once the technique is down, I have to kick into high gear to make a series of pieces that relate to the umbrella. Right now, I'm in an advanced non-silver photography class and I've had experiences with most of the processes but the ones that are new to me require a lot of work and practice to figure out. So, now that I have all the processes down, I can invest real time into making work with those processes that relate to my whole body of work. I really enjoy working in different mediums. I think I'll be a jack of all trades, master of none - one day.
Titles on the other hand are a love-hate relationship. Titles play an important role in helping the viewer understand the intentions of the work. TItles can also be a way of simply keeping track of the work with a numerical system. I'm torn on the subject. Its important to my work that the title key the viewer into something crucial to the work - mostly because most of my work is abstract in nature. However, I'm finding that very little people seem interested in titles anymore; especially some of the faculty that I work with in my program- so I'm deciding whether or not that will affect the way I title work while I'm here. I also get annoyed when titles are so poetic that it makes me want to barf a little. It doesn't have to be poetic, or profound, just informative in my opinion. I used to have more poetic titles when I was in undergrad but I've taken a step back from that a lot. Now I just give what I think is enough without giving it away. I don't think I'm mature enough in my career yet to make hard and fast decisions about titles. Its something that I think will continue to change for me.
My titles usually come from journaling about the work in my sketchbook. Words that commonly come up in when I think about the work normally make an appearance in the titles. And my working titles are often what I go with in the end- or at least some variation of the working title.
I was a bit late on my post this week. Last week was real busy seeing as it was the count down to spring break. Hopefully, I will be able to make more posts this week since I will be free to work in the studio all the time- uninterrupted.
At the least, check back in next Thursday.
NEXT WEEK: When you are contemplating your work, where and how do you sit or stand? How often do you clean your studio, and does that affect your work? DUE: MARCH 14TH
I am a contemporary artist focused on the intersection of art and science in Lexington, KY.