Thursday, April 14, 2011

Artist Manifesto

In my opinion, the most successful art serves a communicative purpose. It illuminates an idea, a narrative, or an emotion in a visual way. It supports and organizes information, with the goal of helping people see more clearly.

In no particular order, these are the qualities I want to bring to my own work:

1. I want to help other people solve communication problems. Conveniently, helping other people solve their communication problems is a fairly easy and fairly pleasurable way to make money. But creating visual solutions to real problems is also immensely rewarding on a non-monetary level. 

2. I want to be kind to the people I work for and with. Most people do not know how to synthesize, organize, and present information effectively. That doesn't mean that they are stupid or lazy. It just means that they need help from the people who can do these things well. Sometimes this is difficult to remember.

3. I want my work to convey a sense of joy, humor, and humanity. People, especially business people, are way too serious most of the time. They need to have more fun. I want to help them have it.

4. I want to master as many physical and digital media as possible. I believe that different communication problems require different types of visual solutions. My goal is to master a broad spectrum of media, techniques, and styles so that I can create relevant, appropriate work. Though my own personal style and taste will always color my work, I aim to become as stylistically diverse as possible.

5. I want to retain sympathy for the viewer. There are (at least) two types of artists: those who challenge themselves to communicate more clearly, and those who challenge their viewers to decode more rigorously. I want to be the first kind of artist. It is important to me that my work be accessible to average people. Ideally, it will be deep enough and rich enough that the rigorous decoders will be rewarded for their efforts, too.

6. I want to avoid snobbery, snark, and bitterness in my work. It is hard to cultivate quality without becoming a snob, it is hard to cultivate humor without stooping to snark, and it is hard to think critically about the world's problems without feeling bitter toward the world's people. I struggle daily to balance these dichotomies, but I hope that in life and in work I will manage to hang onto whatever remains of my original grace and generosity.

7. I want to make work I am proud to call my own. Shame is a terrible emotion. I hope to avoid it at all costs by doing the best work I am capable of doing.

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