I’ve felt a rant coming on for days now.

It’s really interesting to see what’s going on out there in the crafty worlds… I stepped away from it all a while ago, mostly because there really wasn’t a huge community of folks around in the new land I now call home, and also because, well, frankly, I got tired of everything looking homogenous. Pretty, certainly… aesthetically pleasing, definitely… but… homogenous.

Since being laid off last month I have had some extra time to kill, looking to revitalize my visual art practice and so have been poking around again to see what was out there. I’ve long since given up on the publications that cater to the craft industry (for the reasons above), not only because things they showcase are repetitive in nature but because the publications themselves over time become cost prohibitive. Truly there is little in each issue that I find stimulating, and hardly worth the price of admission for a few relevant pages of eye candy. I fare better with books, but that too becomes costly after a time, and there aren’t that many worthwhile ones published (insofar as this category).

With that said, living in a creative vacuum can be limiting sometimes, and being involved in a community of creative people is empowering and enriching… so off I went to the interwebs to see what I could find.

There is some cool stuff going on out there, for sure, but on many levels it’s still the same ole thing… there is a bandwagon to be jumped on (can you say stencils? modelling paste? gelatos?) and people are churning out the same ole “stuff”, and in order to find innovation and originality I once again find that I have to go outside of and away from the usual suspects. I must turn to the illustrators, designers, graphic and typographical artists, etc., in order to find things that will spark inspiration and engender within me the urge to innovate.

Now I realize that we all do this “art” stuff for different reasons, and for some (myself included) it serves multiple purposes, but why is there always such a frenetic buzz around the “it” things while there is also an immense void in the internalization of the processes underlying the material techniques – why is there no incubation of sorts, and then a proliferation of novel ideas and visions with said materials? (Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places?)

The product “designers” all churn out the same old stuff, the products proliferate in the market place and so more of the same stuff gets created and there is a literal flood of sameness. And I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s not all great stuff. A lot of it isn’t even good stuff. It’s akin to the dreaded gad-awful knitted jumper Aunt Flo gives you for Christmas every year.

But I get it… that is the nature of craft and the industry. It’s all about the consumption of materials to create prolifically. Capitalism at its finest in the guise of self-satisfied “artistic” entitlement.

I’ve always associated “craft” with workmanship and also, in a sense, innovation. In order for it to remain relevant I believe it has to evolve and change and gain meaning and yearn for a sense of longevity.

I also get the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage… clearly there are benefits to sticking with tried and true methods and processes and creative births. A formula that is working is a good thing, to some extent. I do the same thing with my stuff (oftentimes)… I create in the same way, using the same materials, and with similar subject matter… but my work has changed and evolved over the years, and it is diversified – I will try just about anything just to see what the medium is like and whether I like to work in it and especially to determine if it is the one best suited to the expression of the “thing” that I am trying to express.

So I guess that’s where it starts. Creation isn’t a random process. Something niggles and quickens and wants to be borne into the world in some form or another. You get to deliver it through some semblance of mastery of the materials you work with/in, honing your skills so they are able to translate those ephemeral visions from within to without, becoming knowledgeable enough in the mediums to determine which will be the best suited for its fullest expression and daring to try to deviate from that which you’ve done before (or is the norm) in order to breach your imagined limitations.

Skill. Happy mistakes. Explorations. Personal aesthetic. Curiosity. Drive. Purpose. Vision.

These constitute a pretty good formula for creative expansion, but there is no template to follow. In fact if you don’t break free from a template almost as soon as you work with it once, you aren’t digging deep enough.

Let me clarify…. there is a difference between developing and working repetitively in your own style versus regurgitating another’s work and calling it art.

There… I feel much better now. Rant over.

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