Thursday, October 30, 2008

the right to suck and waste time

I had a tiny little meltdown last night. Yes, me--hard to believe I know. I've been noticing that I've been very crabby lately. Short-tempered, irritable, and impatient. If you read this blog, you might think that I am like that all the time, and to be completely truthful I do have an edge to me that I started honing around age 6, so my edge is pretty sharp. It can cut paper. Since I am a very complex person with lots of depth and facets, I'm also very sunny and friendly, and I do not enjoy being a bitch. Except when I mean to be a bitch, in which case there is no greater enjoyment.

Anyway, what came out of the meltdown was something that I've been turning over in my head for a while. Part of being a successful artist is to make amazing art-- seemingly effortlessly. But this is the rub-- to make amazing work you have to make a lot of stuff that kinda sucks. That may seem obvious, but when you reach a place where you're work is selling at a consistent pace and supporting yourself and your, ahem, habits, it's very easy to feel like you've got it all dialed out. Making work that sucks suddenly doesn't seem like an option, it feels like a waste of time. It's very easy to convince yourself that everything that comes off your fingertips should be good and reflect your masterful craftmanship. When it's not, failure is something to be disposed of quickly.

Anyway, I realized I need to write myself a new job description. The new job description, aside from cranking out plates, bowls, vases, cups, teapots, sake sets, and anything else that strikes my customer's fancy in record time, is to make some work that totally sucks. Not even sellable. I realized that it's actually my right to make sucky work, and it's part of my job to waste time. When I feel the pressure to whip out nothing but perfect work that will sell, I get so irritable, and I don't even enjoy the process of making it. I get bored, and then I am absolutely no fun to be around. Can you imagine? I have the greatest job in the world, and I actually get bored with it, and myself. I think all of us artist types need to take some time out of our daily routine to make some work that probably sucks, and not get too down on ourselves about it.

As an aside, I wanted to thank the dozens of people who posted comments about my art school rant, and all the emails I received about it. I read some very well-thought out ideas, and it makes me feel good that people take the time out to give me their thoughts. I don't often post comments back, because I frankly do not have the time. But I want everyone to know that I read every comment that comes through, and I really appreciate what people have to say. Thank you!