The Art of Craft
I'll start with a negative: I don't like craft.
Let me explain. The word "craft" shrinks the process for me. It feels more like a hobby, or art therapy. What I'm trying to do when I make is get to the essence of the design. Reduce things to the essential. Of course the act of crafting the piece is as important as developing the design. Of course the construction is important. Of course the piece must be thoughtfully built.
The 80's punk kid in me feels like a navel-gazing dilettante as I write this. I'm thinking too much. But truthfully, good design is around forever. The finish is just as important as the design. Balance. That's what it's all about, my friends. Balance and symmetry.
OK, now that I got that out of the way, let's move on from balance and symmetry.
Rule #1: these things happen best in nature. Always. They just do.
Rule #2: The next best thing after nature is art. The Notre Dame went up in flames. This example of Gothic architecture is a perfect example of man dominating the elements. And that. my friends, is what art is. Man dominating materials.
Inspiration comes from everywhere. It's a cliche, but it's true.
I've found that core inspiration runs deep in an artist's work. There are unavoidable symbols that will always arise, that form the foundation of the work. In my case it's the simplicity of the Bauhaus, the art of Malevich. Somehow I've found a direct line from these influences to the vast expanse of Joshua Tree, California's southern park.
My dear friend Tracey has lived down there for a number of years. She has a complicated relationship with the place, which is understandable. There must be aspects to such a place where you feel isolated. But I can't help but wonder if it's isolation that we sometimes seek? City living compresses us so much. The big outside. The openness. It's compelling. But the silence can be deafening, I guess.
As an object of inspiration, maybe that's what I am most enchanted by. Not necessarily the physical aspect, but the possibility of escape. Transformation. The chance to lose oneself in a wide open space. In that regard I suppose that a painting by Malevich offers the same.
There's a term that I've only recently come to understand. Art practice. Now it makes sense. We are always in practice. At least until we aren't. Sometimes there's brilliance, other times we fall short of the mark. It's just what happens.
I've always been as interested in the make of the object as that of the design. Good design requires one, two or both of these things: A steady hand or a steady manner. With a steady hand you can execute something with care and rigor. With a steady manner you can clearly voice your needs to the person who will make the object. In case of manner, you have to have a certain amount of luck. Finding a person who has the ability to execute your needs is hard. There aren't a ton of people in practice now. The zeros and ones have taken over, causing our most capable design and craft minds to opt for a computer world, where their capable hands are put to use for craft never more.
Depressing? Perhaps. But this is the world now. Building things for a living is a gamble. There's no guarantee of success. But I've learned that there's a sizable community of reciprocity when it comes to makers and patrons.
I just want to make things that people will feel good about having around them, knowing that they can make a direct connection to the source. Does that seem whiney?
Good design is something that makes you feel good.
So thanks. If you've read this far, you're most likely part of the scene.