Two things have recently caused me to think about an artist’s voice, or what you as a creative person are trying to say to the world. One was a client in my long distance spiritual practice who doesn’t feel that she has an artistic voice, while. in her opinion, a lot of other people seem to have one. She has a lovely web site, with an interesting number of photos of her work which many people would be proud to call their own. My take is that my telling her she has a wonderful style of work won’t be real for her until she heals around what is keeping her from seeing that fact.
The second occurrence has been cleaning out my studio of a huge stack of art magazines. I’m making space in my life for all kinds of possibilities, including a new man in my life, and a lot of things need to go. As I was flipping through the articles, deciding what to save, I came across “Find Your Voice” in the Jan/Feb, 2012 issue of “Cloth, Paper, Scissors” by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, and “… Finding Your Voice as an Artist” by Lyric Kinard, in the June/July 2012 issue of “Quilting Arts“. I love both of these artists, but I chose to deliberately not read their articles until after I wrote this piece, as I wanted to speak to how I found my own voice. Having a client bring up the issue and finding both of these articles on the same day for me was a great big tug on my sleeve from the Universe to write about the topic.
I guess that I don’t think of me having a voice, so much as I have a distinctive style. I’ve gotten to the point where people see my work on-line, in an article, or in an exhibition, and they say, “Oh. I knew that was yours’!” I guess I really am one of the most lavish with my button and bead embellishments on fabric, at least from what I can find on the Net. I wrote in a posting earlier that at first I didn’t want to be known for all those little tiny buttons and beads, but have accepted that people like the look. I also enjoy the Zen quality of the sewing, and so, after lots of years of sewing, I’m about buttons and beads. I invite you to poll your own audiences and ask for more specifics as to what people like about your work, and listen for what is repeated over and over. That will give you a hint as to how your public perceives you.
I also encourage you to produce, produce, produce. It’s like writing, the more you create art, the better you get,and the better you get, the more you create. I was at the Picasso museum in Barcelona, Spain, in 1982, where they had a rather long gallery of a week’s worth of canvases that he had produced. There were about twenty pieces, each about 26″ x 32″ or 66 cm x 81cm… (please note – this is an approximation based purely on memory, they may have been bigger.) He was working out a theme with a portrait that used pretty much the same colors throughout. One thing that I noticed was how prolific he was. The second thing, was that most of what he produced, IMO, was not very good, or at least not to the standards that he seemed to have set for himself at the time. I actually like the next to the last one he made better than the final piece. My big a-ha was that even the “Big Guys” don’t always hit home runs with each and every piece. That realization gave me “permission” to just play with my work and have fun, not setting out to make “BIG ARTISTIC STATEMENTS!” (neon signs and planes flying by with banners optional with this pronouncement.)
So, I encourage you to get out there and play, and your voice will evolve. You will become the voice of YOU, which will probably not be what you thought it was going to be. Some very good advice I got from Nancy Crow, a very famous art quilter, early on in my career, was to make art to please yourself and not chase after making pieces to be in a specific show. After you have a body of work, the exhibits and gallery options will open up to you.
Now, I’m glancing at the articles that I spoke about in the second paragraph above. A gem from Julie Fel-Fan Balzer is “What does it mean to be artistically authentic? For me, It’s about accepting and embracing my strengths and weaknesses.” O-O-Oh! That’s a good one! Lyric Kinard adds this brilliant insight… “Becoming an artist with a strong voice is the process of growing into your ability to portray your vision as you, alone, have experienced it.” That’s what all of the marketing classes that I’m taking have spoken about, too. In a world filled with so many look-alikes, only you alone has had the unique combinations of experiences that are YOU! I encourage you to go out and show us how you like to play and how your filters have shaped your view of the world.
How did you go about finding your voice or unique look? or… What are you still struggling with in finding your voice? I’d love to see a discussion get started about some insights you’d like to share.
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