Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review of This Year's Body of Work

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but this past school year has been a sort of art crisis for me. I felt like I was falling far behind everyone else in terms of skill and imagemaking capability. I spent most of the year frustrated with my work and I think, to a large degree, much of that frustration stemmed from my lack of direction. I wasted quite a bit of time planning grandiose projects that were high in ambition but had a lack of any basis in realistic scheduling. Inevitably, I never was able to fully complete any of these overly-ambitious projects and my overall experience with them left me feeling physically and mentally drained. I was unorganized and had fallen to using, at random, whatever design elements happened to catch my eye. I didn't know what I wanted out of my work anymore. I wasn't sure how to grow because I didn't know what direction I wanted to grow in.

Ultimately, I believe I had a bit of a breakthrough at the end of the year when I was asked to compile a list of Illustrators whose work I admire and explain WHY I liked it. This forced me to reexamine my ideal aesthetics and ask myself exactly what elements in their work I found visually attractive. Just what was it about the work of artists like Vincent Hui, Sam Webber, Jillian Tamaki, Kent Williams, Odd Nerdrum, Justin Sweet, Tomer Hanuka, Jenny Saville, Andrew Hem, John Foster and many many others that I found so appealing? The answers surprised me, and ultimately, I came to realize that my taste in work had changed without my conscious marking of it, and this change had led to a deep dissatisfaction with the direction of my own work.

Now, armed with this new knowledge, I've set out to grow in a direction that seems much more clear to me. Recently, I took the time to pour over my work from the past year and figure out exactly what elements worked for me and what didn't. I feel that it's important for me to understand exactly what the strong and weak points of my work are in order for me to address them and therefore guide my own artistic development in a direction that I feel is more progressive, appealing, and enjoyable. I've decided to repost all of the images from this year that I feel were somewhat more successful.


Ian Jacobson said...

Im glad to see i am not the only one with these problems. I am in a similar rut i often imagine things in my head that would be very difficult to execute properly. never thought about evaluating my artistic influences, ill have to give that a shot. anyways just stopped by to say I dig your art work a lot. How do you like MICA? i am currently heading into my sophomore year. when i was looking for schools i was considering MICA, looked like a pretty nice place, but its to far away and much too cold for a southern California person like myself.

Kat Berkley said...

Yeah, it definitely wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. MICA, like most any art school, will give you about as much as you put in. There are some nasty inter-departmental politics, and I feel that some of the instruction is a little behind the times, but overall, I'm happy there.

Craig said...

Awesome work! And yeah it's really hard to balance happiness/satisfaction while still being critical of yourself. But it's also what keeps you moving forward, no? In the long run (maybe short) I'm sure it'll pay off :). And that's about the best summary of MICA I've seen so far.

Kat Berkley said...

Thanks, Craig!
I totally agree that those are two very difficult things to balance. on the one hand, you want to be happy with your work and enjoy what you're doing, but on the other hand there is a constant struggle to do exponentially better work each and every time. I've always views art as a sort of sport. It's challenging, and is very very hard work, but can leave you with an incredible sense of achievement and accomplishment, the same way you might feel after having run a marathon.

B.Wallz said...

Yea I completely know what you mean Kat, like when you get to a certain level of comfort you start to hate your work, and need to reevaluate your entire process. I'm in a similar rut at the moment, but like Craig said...I'm pretty sure that's normal...after all can an artist ever really be satisfied with what theyre doing? I think that struggle will take you don't stress out (or do I guess...?).