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The Two Questions Artists Hate to Hear

in Art

Most people are fascinated by creativity. When I'm at art shows people often ask me the two questions that many artists dread. Now that I feel I understand where they come from, I don't let them bother me, and I always try to be polite.

I think I know why they ask these questions, and understanding that helps me answer in as helpful a way as I can ....

Charged Particle    powder-coated steel    39" x 30" x 30"

The first question? "How long did it take you to make this?"

This question can be frustrating if you haven't kept track of how long you work on a single piece of art,  something that can be very difficult for an artist.

For one thing, I seldom if ever work on a single sculpture at a time. I am usually working on two, three or more pieces at once. That gives me a chance to let something cool or dry, or to let my mind figure out what in the heck I'm going to do next. Sometimes artworks develop over time, or they shift from what I originally conceived as I work through them.

Personally, I also don't want to shift into analytical mode when I'm creating. I like to stay in that netherworld, what I call "running through the grassy fields of my mind." To stop what I'm doing and log time doesn't contribute to being in the zone I need to be in to create.

Still, I think people ask the question because they want to have a conversation and, frankly, can't think what else to ask.

Now I use an answer that I borrowed from another artist - whom I would credit if I could remember who it was! So when people ask, "How long did it take you to make this?" I simply reply, "All my life." It is true in many ways, some of which I also do not understand .....

Knot Me    powder-coated steel      85" x 36" x 48"

The second question: "Where do you get your ideas?"

People have asked me to do a video about this for my YouTube channel, but the best videos seem to be ones with action, and this is definitely all talk.

I find this question the more troublesome of the two because I don't really know, either.

Sometimes the answer is easier than other times. I might see a form and want to try to reproduce or make a twist on it in metal or 3D-printed resin.  The sculpture above, Knot Me, is part of a series of sculptures I've created both in metal and 3D-printed resin, based on the trefoil knot.

Other times, I am just trying to create something I see in my head. Where do those visions come from?  I joke about getting my ideas from drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate, and that's not entirely crazy. I also read a lot, mostly science fiction. I spend a lot of time dinking around with equipment, and my artwork often reflects the forms I have seen all my life playing with tools and the things they make. I also am really inspired by my time on the road, both back when I drove a tractor trailer and my bliss time riding my motorcycle, which contribute to the strong lines of my work.

Beyond that, I attribute my creations to letting my soul, or whatever you want to call it, connect directly with my hands without going through my head. I don't think about it - well, not until I actually have to figure out how to build it - I just create.

I think people ask this question both because they want to have something to talk about and also because they want to tap into their own creativity. And they can, just like I do, but in their own unique way.

Niume community

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