On non-human collaboration:

So I drew these hands:
Hands sketch

Then I put them into Photoshop, mucked around a bit, and they became this:
Hands digital

Still my drawing, but not the same, and the globular shapes are much more in keeping with the idea of the piece this will become. The funny thing is I never intended to make them look like that, I just set out to smooth my shakey-handed outlining.

It got me thinking how it was more like I was collaborating with the software, not just wielding it like a tool. I asked it to do something and it was like “Okay, but instead, how about this? Is this good?” and I’m like “Hell yeah it’s good, thanks bud.”

It’s like this with materials too, paint, paper, fabric, thread. The materials come equipped with all these parameters: I work this way, I don’t bend this way, I shatter easily, I twinkle, I look great in red, I feel good, I’m an allergen. Choosing and working with the materials is one part logic problem, and one part collaboration, because these parameters steer the project as much as I do.

Leaning into a project, I search out the right materials. I brainstorm. Once I choose, (mostly by gut-feel) I nearly always stick it out with that material. Even when it presents a serious problem and redirects the focus of the piece. It’s like, you dance with the partner you came in with.

Even budget and limitations are my ally. I say this to myself once a week: “necessity is the mother of invention.” I can’t tell you how many times my frugal solution (as opposed to the grandiose expensive version I first thought up) turned out to inspire a whole new line of ideas.

It’s all very clear in hindsight. So instead of concerning myself with problems and limits as they come up, I should really look at them as an opportunity to collaborate – between the images in my head, and the way things really are. Usually, “the way things really are” is a better friend than I imagined.

On getting my work to ask the hard questions:

The other week at an opening there were a number of you who said “I can feel the conflict between industry and nature in your work.” This, in its way, made me sad, for in making the work I felt a harmonious combining of the two.

But the artist makes only one half of the work. The rest is all you, and I am so privileged to learn your side. It lets me know who you are, the other, and how I can talk to you. To state your thoughts lets my work know you and dialogue back.

Leaf Filled

I noticed – hey – I know now what that person feels about industry/nature. My work asked them that question and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was trying to tell them something. But my work had other plans. It was curious.

Meditation cushion print

A thing that comes up in my reading/listening a lot: the idea of making art based on questions, not answers. Answers and truths are illusory. This is a controversial stance. I’m not placing it as an argument but rather a hypothesis. In my experience, personal truths (are there other kinds?) are transitory.

Seasonal trees block

Out in the people world, I find it difficult sometimes to talk to people about — people things. I’m not very good at it. I mean about families, spouses, heartbreaks, haircuts, injuries. These are relevant and important, but I am private in ways and just not very good at sharing back.

On the other hand, I am crazy to learn what projects/ideas/innovations/science/stories/techniques/places/spaces/perspectives/mind-tricks keep you awake at night. You know what? Sometimes its really hard to get people into those conversations. I learned a secret pass-phrase to get right in there, but some things are just tricky.

decal blocking x 2

So I’ll get my art to do it. Then go places with it. It’ll be my wingman.

Hey guy, my art says. Quick, what do I make you think of? Wear it all over your face.