“Thank you for being a loyal reader and supporter of ReelSEO.” – said the top line of today’s newsletter, but to me it read like “Thank you for being a royal leader and supporter of ReelSEO. Well, my pleasure, say I. Or say We.

Because REEL SEO newsletter is my favourite of all newsletters that I am subscribed to so far. I am subscribed to three newsletters so far. And out of those three REEL SEO’s newsletter is my favourite. By far. There.

 

Advertisements

About me. The old story

March 16, 2011

The initial idea was to write about portraiture. But I realised that the only subject I can talk about with any degree of competence is myself. So, it is all about me. I hope that amidst my confused struggle you may find a particle of sense applicable to your own circumstances.
One way or another we are all in Arts, and I am sure each of us faces this question of “What is Art?” at least once in a life time.I gave it some big thinking lately, and here is my story.
The way I found myself in this profession is by following not my passion, but a number of accidents. And so, I spent my first couple of years in art college wondering what I was doing there and why. Even then the suspicion crept in, that the skill, the abilities, the status and the paraphernalia of being an artist are all secondary attributes. The primary one is the message.
blank canvas cartoons, blank canvas cartoon, blank canvas picture, blank canvas pictures, blank canvas image, blank canvas images, blank canvas illustration, blank canvas illustrations The message was missing. I had nothing to say, no opinion of my own. My life was happening outside of the college walls, and it was more real, more fun, more current than anything under the abstract and ambiguous concept of Art.
I quit Art and the college and got busy with life. In a few years time there came a yearning to know more about Art. Or maybe it was a wish to appear more knowledgeable about Art. Which one of these was more true – I cannot tell. I came back to the college and started anew with renewed vigour. Soon I realised that in order to be serious about Art one has to make one’s living out of it. So, I started an art gallery, with a next-to- nothing knowledge about Art and no idea about Business.
I wasn’t alone in my innocence – the whole country knew nothing about business! But we were learning fast. It was fun, at times nerve-wracking, thrilling and rewarding.
Freedom.jpg The best thing about the art gallery was having the opportunity to learn about the world outside the impenetrable borders of Uzbekistan, as the community of foreigners in Tashkent constituted all of my clientele.
One thing led to another, soon I had a chance to travel abroad, and in 2000 I took myself and my Art to London with the hope to find somebody interested. Then I met Tim and stayed in England. wedding weddings marriage
Life became fulfilled in an unexpected for me way with the arrival of children. Art never had a priority with me, and now it had to be content with even less of my attention. It became a means to earn the living for my family. Or perhaps having the family added an incentive to make Art. Which one is more true I again cannot tell. Also, by never really ceasing to make Art, I never had to give myself up entirely to the intensity of the mother and baby relationship. And it did a lot of good to my sanity!
Meanwhile I was trying to figure out what Art is. I believe there is no better place for this kind of search than Britain. There is so much of what falls under the description of Art one way or another, so that one gets the big picture. And besides, one doesn’t feel alone in one’s bewilderment about it all.
  • Art.
  • Visual, literature, music, performing, applied.
  • Design.
  • It is everywhere.
  • Big art and minor art.
  • Mainstream and outside art.
  • £Million Art and worthless art.
  • Value of Art.
  • Where am I in all of this, where is my Art in this picture?
  • What does it mean for me – Art?
  • What is success in Art for me?
  • Success is Fame? Success is Money?
  • How important is it?
  • In order to achieve Fame and Money, what am I prepared to give?
This big recessional scare we all had lately got me rushing from one thing to another, trying to prevent disaster. The exercise was productive, but in unforeseen ways.The world’s amplified worries about money brought to my attention that I managed to get this far in my life without giving money much thought. I decided to establish a closer relationship with money.
The idea being that by studying money, I’ll understand and love it more, and it will reciprocate.
Like a good girl, I got myself piles and piles of books on business, art management, marketing, money, attracting money, selling etc, etc.I talked to everyone, especially the more fortunate ones, about their relationship with money and how they got there. It is said that to attract money, you have to concentrate on what money can give you. I surrounded myself with cut-outs of mansions and cars, expensive accessories and top-of-the-market gadgets.
I truly gave it my best shot. And here is my conclusion: Money is a game. And this game does not excite me.
My intention to make money a stimulus for my productivity failed miserably. I don’t care for the riches of the world, however hard I try to convince myself otherwise. And being content with what I have, I care only for preserving the freedom of doing what I like doing, when I like doing it.
Which is many different things. Stylistic diversity is a reflection of my inability to limit myself to one area, or style, or theme. I can see a few topical threads forming throughout the years, but at any given moment I tend to have some seemingly unconnected things going on. Which common sense in pursuit of success condemns as a bad thing.
But by trying to limit myself to one or two themes or media, I realised that I limit my output, instead of improving. Besides, I tire myself by the mere effort of keeping in the rut. How about the excitement of new ideas? What about the enjoyment of the creative process?
My friend Brigitte and I went to a talk by Dave McKean. He is an incredibly productive artist. But also versatile. The style is immediately recognisable, while the media are many. There were some points in the talk which I found particularly important. They came about as an answer to a question: What would be his advice to a budding illustrator?
He said that it is important to go and do it. So many people think and talk of doing this and that, but never get down to the business of realising their ideas for fear of failure, or being simply lazy or disorganised.“Just do it. In time, that work will accumulate, and if it is any good, it‘ll find it‘s place. By which time you‘ll be surprised yourself, how much you‘ve progressed.”
Another piece of advice for illustrators – learn to write too. Although Dave has a very long and productive partnership with the author Neil Gaiman he finds it important for an illustrator to become a writer.
The underlying idea is to be as versatile as possible. These days technologies take over some highly specialized technical jobs in the industry, allowing the artist herself to be in control of the whole process from the concept to the end product.What he said again confirmed to me that diversity is not a bad thing, and my secret folder with the short stories has the right to exist, as well as odd collages, and ink drawings and all the rest. I’ve got to allow myself to take every obscure route I am compelled to take, instead of sticking to one safe certainty.
The reason why diversity is never welcomed on the art market is the need to sell the output.
I recommend reading a book “The $12 Million Stuffed Shark” by Don Thompson, which is the greatest eye-opener on the business of art. This is a quotation from that book: “Never underestimate how insecure buyers are about contemporary art, and how much they always need reassurance.”
The reassurance the buyers need lies in quantity and recognisability.
I am sure, the secret of the sell-out of the latest show by Anita Klein is to be found right there. Jack Vettriano’s unique creative career is proof of just the same – quantity and recognisability. There are other ingredients too, but one thing is definite – sales have nothing to do with skill or aesthetics.
So, I came to the conclusion that I had better forget about the big art market, because I will never be a good product, ie:
highly productive in one area,
motivated by money,
and as a bonus – shocking.
What’s my way to success then?
Well, first of all, owning a shop is the biggest advantage. Took me 8 years to stop being shy about it and to appreciate it fully! My shop = my independence.
Another cornerstone of artistic freedom is the Internet, and it becomes more vital every day. There are great examples of how to reach out to the audience, and build up the following. Dave McKean’s advice about learning to write becomes very hot in this context. The whole world is a stage open to those, who can captivatingly express what they have to say. Individuality was never in a better position.
Being an artist is a solitary business, and the opportunity to bounce ideas off others seldom presents itself without extra-effort. That’s why we came together in the form of this club, and I hope it’ll grow organically into something fruitful.
Meanwhile, and in between, I find a lot of inspiration through the Internet. For instance, getting ready for our meeting, I found the website of a doctor of psychology Ellen Rudolph, and her words which brilliantly express what I was trying to say:
“Such is the artist who is so unified as a whole that his or her properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of their parts. They are more than the mere sum of their parts. Like that of the bow and the lyre, the artist’s harmony consists of blatantly opposing tensions.
The greatest achievements of humankind have happened because someone, somewhere, made the effort to think outside of the box in the face of pressure to explore more conventional spaces.
Think of that the next time you strive to overly control your life.The universeflows, as you and I also should. Art is NOT a fixed idea that you have before you start making it. It happens when we let go of our self-induced constraints and finally let ourselves feel.”  The essays by Dr Ellen K. Rudolph.http://www.drellenrudolph.com/psyessay1.html
Today, answering my question “What is success in Art for me?“ I say, to learn not to constrain my creativity by my feelings of duty, limitations or fears, or by somebody‘s ideas of what Art is supposed to be. To create freely and fruitfully, and then put all the pieces together and make up a story of one life.

Sincerely thank you for reading!

 

Who am I?

March 16, 2011

When we strip you down to the most basic elements of what you’re all about, what do we have?

I never really strayed too far from my basic elements, so it should be easy for me to go back.

I am just me – a child playing in the dust. Which is mud, which is clay. Quiet and self-contained. Going out on adventures every now and then. Free. Unpretentious.

I just realised something.

I was thinking: What were my needs? Very little. None almost.  What are my wants? None (although I can get some if necessary). So, is that why I am free? Why I feel so free?

And then I remembered the sensation of not understanding what the life is all about and why there is this atmosphere of anxiety. Especially in the Western world. I know now why. People in what we call the West more than people in other places convinced themselves, that they have needs – lots of them.

And then I remembered what I read yesterday on Steven Fry’s website: “Eat shit, a hundred billion flies can’t be wrong”

Which is not to say, that it is bad to have wants! On the contrary, it is great! It’s fun! Wants are the engine of the progress. But wants are not needs. One can drop them any time. You need nothing. So, be free 🙂

Interviewing myself

March 16, 2011

“Developing your brand
During the development of “BrandYou” you need to ask yourself some basic questions.” More where this came from.

What are your values?
I value that thing which they call the source which is the divine thing inside a human being. You see how I am playing a clown here, dodging those stupid, naff, un-cool, abused, yucky terms like god, divine, spirit, soul etc… But I still value That Thing the most.
It’s the wounded but still alive cynic of mine is wriggling about somewhere there. Deep.

What do you love?
I love progress. In all it’s manifestations.

What do you hate?
Stagnation.

What are you insanely great at doing?
What I always felt insecure about is my sticking to the realistic representation of the people and objects in my visual art. The problem with that is, as common criticism these days goes, there is not much creativity involved in doing that. It’s just a copy of the nature. And NOW I see it for what it is. (I am thinking along as I write here). I see things realistically. That is my way of seeing things – as they are. If I were a writer, I’d write realism rather than sci-fi, if I were a painter, I’d paint realistic photographic portraits rather than abstract cubes or splodges… You see, I wrote “if I were a painter”… Funny that, because I kind of am a painter. Just now, just moments ago I made a transition from a visual artist to … what? Who am I? I finished Me The Painter now, and who am I then? I am a helper. Am I a healer? That doesn’t sound quite right. Am I a facilitator, an inspirator? Something along those lines. I am kind of a little ahead on the path and I am calling the others to follow, I trod a path, I am a path-treader. Fun!

There are millions of paths, there are millions of path-treaders. I just tread and show one of the millions of possible paths, and most likely this path will be suitable only for me, but it might help someone to see HOW I trod it. It is about applying the method of finding one’s path rather than the path itself.

Or, yeah. I remember now. There is a term for it which I came across a lot recently. A way-shower. So that’s what I am . That, I must admit, spoiled much fun for me – first, I wasn’t the first; secondly, that term comes from those creepy alien, new-agey, spirit-channelling people… Hmm.

But I strayed away from the question.

Ah! The answer came to me just now! (I have definitely tuned myself into something good!)
I am insanely good at analysing myself and applying it to a human behaviour in general, listening, comparing, analysing again, learning. And I can see now where all of that is leading me. I am a helper. A way-shower.

I am having a special moment here… Sorry. Back soon.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my family. I created it! With Tim, of course, and the girls, of course, and my mum of course, and many other people involved to a various degree (It sounds like an Oscar nomination acknowledgements…), but still, it’s me at the core of it! From my point of view. I am extremely proud of being able to support a fine healthy balance in my life and therefore the life of my family.

What do you want to be?
I want to be an inspiration. I want to be of  help. But not in a charitable way. Giving as such doesn’t inspire me, not as much as helping someone to find their own way.

What is important and valuable to you?
Freedom. Independence. Interdependence.

What do you want to be known for?
I want to be know as a … words “white clown” come to my mind. Have no idea why. I guess the answer will come to me in a few years time, which is usually the case.

“Basic, fundamental questions, yes. And yet, sometimes these are the most difficult to answer. But they must be answered and must be true.” Garr Rreynolds

What are you insanely great at doing?

What I always felt insecure about is my sticking to the realistic representation of the people and objects in my visual art. The problem with that is, as common criticism these days goes, there is not much creativity involved in doing that. It’s just a copy of the nature. And NOW I see it for what it is. (I am thinking along as I write here). I see things realistically. That is my way of seeing things – as they are. If I were a writer, I’d write realism rather than sci-fi, if I were a painter, I’d paint realistic photographic portraits rather than abstract cubes or splodges… You see, I wrote “if I were a painter”… Funny that, because I kind of am a painter. Just now, just moments ago I made a transition from a visual artist to … what? Who am I? I finished Me The Painter now, and who am I then? I am a helper. Am I a healer? That doesn’t sound quite right. Am I a facilitator, an inspirator? Something along those lines. I am kind of a little ahead on the path and I am calling the others to follow, I trod a path, I am a path-treader. Fun!

There are millions of paths, there are millions of path-treaders. I just tread and show one of the millions of possible paths, and most likely this path will be suitable only for me, but it might help someone to see HOW I trod it. It is about applying the method of finding one’s path rather than the path itself.

Or, yeah. I remember now. There is a term for it which I came across a lot recently. A way-shower. So that’s what I am . That, I must admit, spoiled much fun for me – first, I wasn’t the first; secondly, that term comes from those creepy alien, new-agey, spirit-channelling people… Hmm.

But I strayed away from the question.

Ah! The answer came to me just now! (I have definitely tuned myself into something good!)
I am insanely good at analysing myself and applying it to a human behaviour in general, listening, comparing, analysing again, learning. And I can see now where all of that is leading me. I am a helper. A way-shower.

I am having a special moment here… Sorry. Back soon.

Being ridiculous is fun!

March 14, 2011

I am researching being ridiculous. Before I dive into actually being ridiculous. I know it is inevitable, but my mind needs some convincing in order to cooperate rather than sabotage. We’ll get there…

Art and Information

March 11, 2011

Portrait of an Artist (Photographer Paul Hewitt. )

Portrait of an Artist. Collage

I have the ability to grasp the likeness. I guess, it is like a musical ear. One can be taught to draw people, as well as play music. Beyond the skill it’s down to some undefinable magic which makes the whole difference.

What makes a portrait so appealing? Is it a thirst to know more about human kind? How people’s inner-selves correspond to their looks? Or the geography of the human face and the diversity of it? The ethnography. The sociology. The history. One comes to realise how much information can be drawn from an appearance, and therefore through a portrait.

I remember reading some literary critic writing on A.S.Pushkin. What struck me most in that article was that Pushkin’s works were very informatively dense. Every word counted. Interesting. Information is the key to a successful art(or any other)work. Information is God. Isn’t the Art itself information? Or everything is?..

A portrait is a good piece of art, if it manages to covey as much information as possible about the sitter. Even better, if it does it without being too literal. The information readable on the level of emotions rather than brain. How does one achieve it?