Monday, December 20, 2010

New Artist Statement

Today I submitted my work for consideration by Artist a Day, a gallery site which showcases one artist's work each day. Since 2007, the site has attracted 800,000 subscribers to its iGoogle gadget and shows some pretty nifty artwork.

Part of the application process was writing a new artist statement, which was a helpful exercise in thinking about why I do what I do and how my work is different. I will undoubtedly continue to explore these issues through writing.

Here is what I submitted:

Sketchbooks are often relegated to a preliminary role in creating art, which is understandable: for hundreds of years they have played an important role in capturing, incubating, and developing inspiration and ideas. Artists used sketchbooks to record and develop ideas that formed the foundation of finished pieces in other media. This perception is unfortunate because it ignores the potential of sketchbooks to be an independent, valid, and rich vehicle for finished work.

My view and approach are different. I see sketchbooks as a unique medium that combines finished work with the traditional repository of raw and unformed ideas. Every page in my books contains the entire history of an idea, from its origin to final expression, simultaneously occupying the entire continuum of the creative process.

I use my sketchbooks in part for traditional purposes: as a repository of ideas and inspiring words and images; as a laboratory for experimenting with materials, techniques, and styles; and as a incubator for nurturing, exploring, and developing creative ideas. But I also see my sketchbooks as finished pieces and give page spreads the same consideration, attention, and care afforded a finished piece.

I’m attracted to books because they offer us a uniquely intimate experience. They are small and tactile; we hold them in our hands. The experience of reading a book is solitary, absorbing us even if we are sitting in a crowded room. Written or visual journals are places in which we often reveal our most private selves.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1,000 Journals: the Movie

Despite my deep love of sketchbooks, I couldn’t envision them as the subject of a movie. At least not an interesting one. Despite long odds, filmmaker Andrea Kreuzhage accomplished that very unlikely task with 1000 Journals.

The movie tells the story of the 1000 Journals Project, an experiment in which a San Francisco-based graphic designer named Someguy released 1000 blank journals into the world, hoping that people would add to them and return them. Since it began in 2000, the project has involved hundreds (if not thousands) of participants in more than 40 countries and all 50 of the United States, as well as yielded a 212-page book and an exhibition through SFMOMA.

Kreuzhage began work on the film in December 2003, spending the next five years traveling the globe to interview nearly 500 contributors to the 1000 Journals Project. According to the film’s website, the crew shot about 165 hours of film, took well over 7,000 still photos, and made about 2,400 high resolution scans of about 80 journals.

The stories Krezhage collected, while engaging on their own, have even more power when taken together. In that sense, the movie is much like a sketchbook; the individual parts are given greater meaning and depth when taken as a whole. The film showed perfectly the power of the 1,000 Journals Project, capturing the spirit of collective creativity that has driven thousands to participate.