Friday, 1 October 2010


The only real answer to the question “...and where did the inspiration for this piece come from?” is “search me.”

It’s a question that people ask out of a sort of time-tested cultural thing when faced with an artists work, and one which no-one answers honestly, because if they knew the answer and could tap into it like turning on the light, then they would be geniuses, and most aren’t.

What may be meant with the above question is very close to the next question, which is “...and what were your influences?”... well, the honest answer to that is “Everything I have ever seen, heard or thought”.

No-one ever gives that answer either....and that answer means that all Intellectual Property is stolen content anyway.

So, if you try and answer the first question as if it was the second, then you end up with nothing to say when they ask you the second one.

So, with the second question they actually want you to name people, artists they may have heard of, that have been role models in your artistic work. really tho, all other artists are crap because otherwise you would give up, or do copies. answer the Influences Question with a string of names of artists who are trendy enough or obscure enough to make you look educated... only to dig a bigger hole for yourself because the Third Question is...”and who are your artistic heros?”... a question you already answered. Doh!..

The whole process of design is as much a mystery for those of us that do it as it is for those that see some product of the process and are at a bit of a loss as to how, why and where it fits into their world view.

Design seems to me a bit like juggling thousands of pieces of a puzzle, some bits are directly related to the medium you are using, your abilities, desired outcome, size, etc. The more technical aspects get decided a few at a time, like you have to decide a medium fairly early on, and size may not be a issue you can determine once a medium is chosen.

As more decisions get made, often in quick succession, then some of the pieces of the puzzle start to coalesce around them like water vapour around a speck of dust. They are sets of pieces. You may still have no idea whatsoever what the final product will look like.

These sets of pieces then have still to be juggled, kept moving...various combinations tried mentally, turned over again and again like a sort of manic obsession, endlessly varying, 24/7. This is a state of consciousness which is unlike any 'normal' state... probably not 'healthy' either. Slightly 'disturbed'. Mental.

As the sets start to come together then a hint of a product can come into view, and you may start to get an idea of what you are creating.

Inspiration strikes when, suddenly, for seemingly no particular reason you can see all those sets fit into a whole.

You try it out, in the medium you have decided upon.

From then on in, the rest is a sort of problem solving technique. Like a jigsaw, this bit doesn’t fit...those bits go well together.....

Smaller episodes of juggling and inspiration later and you have something resembling a product.

Then, with whatever skill you have, you polish, fine-tune, and, when it’s ready, you show it to someone, have to,..... because by this time you probably can’t stand the sight of it anymore. It has eaten up too much of your soul for you to feel benevolent towards it, it seems like a demanding child you want to get rid of.

...and the person asks.. “What was your inspiration for this piece?”



  1. I agree with you. It is impossible to form an idea that does not include a chain of countless ideas, images, etc. that we've encountered since birth (or maybe even prenatally.) Additionally, esoteric concepts such as the collective unconscious and morphic fields, and simply the mundane building blocks of our cultural heritage debunk the idea of independent originality. That said, what we create with the resources and tools of our legacy can be very unique and unprecedented. And to chart the complete "what was your inspiration for this piece" would likely need to track back to the big bang.

  2. As usual, Botgirl, very eloquently put.

  3. This is a silly question, but are you an INFJ by any chance?

  4. well, not a silly question if I knew what an INFJ is/was......

  5. hehhehe...sorry...I have trouble with the categories, Matthew. I am not very clear on how I am/would be rated.

  6. so... that could be a yes, I guess. ...:)))

  7. strangely I have used your exact answers (the truthful ones) when asked those questions... and watched the interviewer be completely stumped... was much fun :)

  8. You've described the creative process very well. Many artists call it being 'in the zone' - when suddenly everything else falls away and you are left in pure concentration mode, and things just happen. You wake up, and see you've created something good, and someone asks you what it's all about.That's the time to make up artspeak answers. Noone else can be in or understand your 'zone'. That's the great energy and secret of creativity - the rest is marketing.

  9. heheh when I posted that the word I was asked to transcribe to show I was real was BULSHI. Was someone trying to tell me something?

  10. @ Quadrapop, Well done, glad to see I am not alone on this..

    @Juanita, exactly. ...and.. several months done the line, even I have no idea how I made that piece.

  11. "Well *holding roses, laughing, sniffling* I really must thank my mother, who was with me all the way, and all these wonderful dead artists without whom which I would have never discovered art; then there was the time I ran away into the woods and thought there were ghosts in the trees... and my first Art Teacher, Sister Knuckleball; without her gentle guidance with ruler and clicker, I might never have discovered escaping into my imagination; I'd like to also mention the makers of expensive plastic toys, because my parent's couldn't afford my childish greed for consumer goods, which of course led me to make my own toys and stuff... and of course, my fellow contemporaries and peers, without whom I wouldn't have famous names to drop...

    @soror: mostly I work in a 'play' mode. I might begin with some concept, but that conceptual focus grows and changes and is influenced by what's happening with the materials, my state of mind at various times, my current obsessions/interests, something I read or saw today...

    For myself, it is a mode akin to "jamming" in music, where paying attention to the shapes and forms being played with is an integral part of the process, as is growth over time and the thickening/deepening of associations stirred up by working on the piece. Perhaps another good analogy to my process would be gardening - planting small seeds, modifying by thinning, pruning or transplanting, watching things grow for a bit, doing more trimming...

    @Juanita: lol!

  12. I very much enjoyed this post. Of course I ask those questions of others and myself. Yet they are indeed unanswerable questions… this is why I often refer to myself as a tool user rather an artist.

    When confronted with a piece that thrills me, I find I am most often thinking about 3 questions…

    1. What are they trying to say to me?
    2. What does it remind me of?
    3. How did they do that?

    Of course the more important and most vague question is the first. In the postmodern tumult of a crashing wave of creativity (Nothing new… old stuff just mixed up and rearranged, washed and re-washed) the other questions seem to be attempts at attaching vague and amorphous meaning to our concrete material lives.

    Which is really all just fancy talk for trying to describe what happens when you get that “Wow” feeling upon seeing something that moves you emotionally, whose beauty fires off a refreshing wave of neural activity, causing us to want more. It is that Spark that is art… in both the indescribable act of creativity and in the moment of seeing (an equally mysterious moment).

  13. Robert, thank you...I very much enjoyed your comment too..

    My favourite saying about art is from Rimaud (who I know nothing about, possibly Pere Jean Rimaud?).....

    .. he classifies art as "a long, immense and deliberate derangement of the senses".

    So far, I find this the most concise description of that neural activity you speak about.