harsh criticism given, sorry if I piss you off b/c of it... with a foul language warning to younguns

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Posted by Alissa on June 28, 2002 at 13:42:35:

In reply to: Originality issues- advice needed posted by Nick on June 27, 2002 at 20:42:04:

I've only read a few threads, but so far everyone is doing what you
said you couldn't hear right now, and telling you how great you are.
So here is my own rant, and it AINT sucking your dick and telling you
how great you are, and "geeee, I hope you feel better soon Nick."

: Reviewing my henna work, i've come to a realization of something
: which i have wondered about for a long time- my work is largely
: unoriginal and borring. I do run of the mill designs. They're
: nothing very new or different.

Define your terms first. To give something a label like "boring" is
subjective, not objective. Be objective if you are going to be
serious in evaluating your art. What is "new" to you? What
is "different"? These are hazy words that don't nail down any
particular concept. Therefore, they're unhelpful as self-criticism,
unless you probe beneath those labels to find out what they mean in
your own frame of reference.

"Boring" may mean it is an expected result. Do your designs suprise
you any more? If so, why not? YOU are the artist, and YOU are the one
holding the cone/jac bottle. If your end result is always
predictable, that leads an artist into boredom. That could be because
you havent' changed anything about the way you henna -- you always
use the same patterns, or similar ones, you always use the same tools
to apply, and the same powder and mixes to get certain colors. You
may have quit experimenting, and therefore taken away any opportunity
to suprise yourself.

It's up to you to find out what's not boring, and that usually means
pushing yourself into areas where you may fail, create shitty
designs, etc. It's riskier, but most artists find it worthwhile to
push themselves into other disciplines. If you always do Moroccan
style work, or Navneet, or whatever, do stuff you look at and hate --
tribals, or flash art, or cartoons, whatever is repulsive. Do it
anyway, with old paste on paper if you don't want to wear the design.
Sometimes we disregard all designs that don't "speak" to us. Don't
always wait for the ones that appeal to you, they usually are ones
that are very similar to each other and therefore are going to feel
the same all the time. Do stuff you abhore and see what it does for
the stuff you love. You may learn something that you can then apply
to what you really DO love.

Also risky = try new tools. If you've mastered the jac bottle like it
sounds from previous posts, you should push yourself to try other
tools - syringes, cones, whatever. Different tools facilitate
different designs. For new work on your "easel", try changing
your "paintbrush".

: So what i need is some sharp criticizm. This is not a call for
: attention! I need you to see that my work really *is* borring, and
: tell me what i can do about it. If you're just going to tell me
: it's not borring, save your energy, because that's not going to
: me and is not what i need in this case.

O.k. fine, your art is boring. Now quit whining and figure out why.

No artist ever ever lives up to what they envision for their art. The
artists' ancient blessing/curse is: May your reach always exceed your
grasp. You will always push your art to "live up to" what you think
it *should* be, instead of what it is. THAT is always the way of real
artists. If you don't like that, you will just have to accept it if
you continue artistically. Those rare shining moments when our art
actually DOES live up to what we expect are the moments we just LIVE
for. So it's not a futile effort, but frsturating and full of trial
and error. The ones you feel good about are usually separated out by
a long string of what doesn't impress you at all (but may impress
others, or clients, don't get me wrong). But they still don't feel
right to you, and that means you have your own internal measurement
that you art isn't measuring up to. That's good. That means you're
hungry and want to do more, try more, keep going for something else.
So, if you have room in your heart, take a moment to give thanks that
you are so frustrated at yourself and your art. It really can be a
gift that will keep you searching and learning and growing.

O-t, I find this reach-exceeds-your-grasp most true (for myself) in
when performing. I will never dance the way I see the dance in my
head, it always gets changed as my physical instrument reinterprets
the choreography. In my head, it's perfect and I can see exactly how
I want it to look technique-wise, and then I do it, and it's
different. That pisses me off, it's often tiring, but it also
inspires me.

Being an artist takes time, and commitment. It also requires periods
of rest and rejuvenation. Realize the yogic aspect of being on a path
to an answer, that you must walk many steps before you reach your
destination, and that at times you will need to stop along the way
and re-evaluate where you're going, how you're doing it, and how you
feel about it.

: So when does a design become "your own?" The way i feel,
:for a design to be your own, it has to have real
: flair to it, something that *you* put there, and obviously so. My
: designs lack that.... help?

That is such a cheap and easy answer to your deeper question, you
ought to reconsider what you're asking for. Do you really want some
cheesy "tag" that says to the world, oh that looks like a Nick
Cartier design, see how it has fill-in-the-blank (like we say it
looks like a Loretta Roome design because it's done in the "old
mehndi" border style). That is absolutely no substitute for real

And besides, you don't want to find yourself suddenly boxed in,
having defined the Nick-Cartier style as being only one type of
thing. You think you're bored now....

If you are really an artist, you have to find all these answers for
yourself. Criticism such as what you are asking for is difficult.
That's due to the subjectivity of your request. You want criticism on
how to make your art "less boring, more original, and new, different,
and exciting." No one can give you a quick fix on how to feel better
about what you create. It's your art - it's your responsibility.
Learning and sharing with fellow artists, and commiserating over
failures or sharing successes, can be very helpful when your reserves
are low.

Go charge your own batteries. Maybe you need to put the jac bottle
away for a while, I know you've mentioned that before. Maybe henna
has nothing left to suprise you with (how sad is that as a
concept...) but perhaps she has taken you as far as you are willing
to go with her. Maybe you need to find another outlet, besides henna,
before you are really interested in your own henna work again.

Picasso went through so many incarnations of his art, his "blue
phase" or what have you would consume him and then for years
everything would be done in blues blues blues. But then blue gets
boring, and the Muse speaks, and the next incarnation begins. But
it's always still paint on a canvas, nothing more. For you, it's
still henna on skin. But what *else* it can be is really up to you.
No one can give you the key to fixing it. That is a terrible fact,
but true.

I hope I haven't offended you by trying to give you the criticism
you're asking for. I don't really think anyone here will help you
find a single answer that feels right to what you're going through
inside. But it any one of these things I've said seems to help, I
hope you accept that I offer it as a means to help you dig deeper for
your own answers. No one else's will fix the issue anyways.

Your input in your own creative path is the only answer there is.


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