Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm Officially Annoyed

Caroline has a great blog called 'In Search Of Adam' that you should go and take a look at. It’s OK … I’ll wait.


It reads well and it looks great too. Doesn’t it?

She’s also had her first novel published and you can read an extract on her website.

(Hey … get me with these hyperlinks!)

I find her own story about how she came to write the book inspirational. Makes me hope for good things and believe that good things DO happen.

But that’s not my point.

Some time ago, another woman writer made some snide comments on her blog about Caroline’s blog. She basically (as I recall) made 2 main points. I’ve been annoyed since I read them but it’s taken me until now to figure out why. So I’m going to tell you because the points she made equally apply to my own art … and, indeed, have been made about my pictures.

I’m going to try to stay calm.

Firstly, with regard to the style of Caroline’s blog, she said “she didn’t get it”. She also said she didn’t get poetry either. That’s kind of sweeping, don’t ya think? Like saying you don’t “get” music, or art, or science or whatever.

I have so many problems with this kind of attitude that I hardly know where to begin.

Firstly, it’s so damn DISMISSIVE. If someone takes the time and effort to produce something that they feel pleased enough with to share with others, then don’t just dismiss it out of hand. That is so rude.

Which brings me to my second point. The point of art often is to challenge convention … to provoke a reaction … to make us think …to show us something different that we maybe hadn’t thought of before … to move us …to change the world … or at least, our world. So saying “I don’t get it” is so totally the wrong response to any piece of art.


Engage with it and the artist … think about it … talk about it …do some digging … learn.

And thirdly, Caroline’s style is very contemporary. It’s a visual language. The use of typography and design is a BIG part of our culture now. Most of the magazines I read (Nylon, Another Magazine, Tank, POP) use an eclectic, interesting and arresting mix of fonts and layouts. Tom Peters (the management guru) recently changed publishers so he could get the LOOK he wanted in his business management books. He wanted the look of the words to reflect his spoken style. Take a look at his book Re-Imagine (published by Dorling Kindersley – pioneers in this area of book design) to get an idea.

So Caroline’s style cannot be dismissed out of hand.

The other comment “that woman” made was that her 12 year old could do it.

(Excuse me one moment … AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!)

I have heard it said (to my face), about my pictures, that “my kids could do that”. Actually no … they couldn’t.

Haven’t you ever heard of INTENTIONALITY!

Jackson Pollock flicked paint all over the canvas. A monkey could do it. But the story goes that when a journalist said that to him, Pollock asked him to place a dollar bill on the floor about 10 feet away. The artist then dipped a stick in a pot of paint and flicked it so that it went down the floor, around the dollar bill and back again. INTENTIONALITY.

When I’m doing a picture, I know what paint effect I can get with a brush, with a sponge, with kitchen roll, with my fingers, with string dipped in paint, with a stipple brush, with cling film … and so on. These are the tools of my trade. I know how they work and what to do with them (though I’m learning more every day). I put paint on in a seemingly random fashion … and then take it off again because it isn’t right. I might do this over and over again until I get the look and effect I want. It’s INTENTIONAL RANDOMNESS. Controlled chaos. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING AND WHY I’M DOING IT. I can do it over and over again.

Your 12 year old can’t. He or she is playing … I’m WORKING.

My guess is that when Caroline is putting a post together for her blog, she’s fiddling about with fonts almost as much as words. Changing, deleting, trying again …until she’s happy and ready to share it with others.

So when she does … DON’T say you don’t get it, or your 12 year old could do it. Because if you do … I might just have to come round there and SLAP your legs. HARD.

Be fair, I think I stayed fairly calm.


Have you climbed into my mind and read my thoughts??????
Your words are wise and true.
It is art.
It is different.
It is experimenting.
Being creative shouldn't be about following rules and sticking to guides and regulations. I lecture in linguistics, yet the novel that I have written is ungrammatical. I experimented and I found the whole thing liberating. Words are wonderful.
I love your intelligent comment and that you have taken the time to express your views.
Thank you.
I hope that you'll read my novel, because I know that you will understand and appreciate that every word and every font was chosen. It was intentional.
Thank you for 'getting it' and for taking the time to tell me that you do. You've brightened up my day.
Caroline ... you are soooo welcome!!!!! LOL
This is possibly my favourite post so far because it's SO TRUE!

Being able to re-create something is not the same as creating something original. Anyone 'could' copy art work but they haven't done the research, the sketches, the development and the whole process that comes before producing something. Like you say in your blurb - it's not like you just make it up!

P.S. Caroline - this is the first time I have visited your blog and I will definitely be going back - I love it!
Hi Jo! I guess you'd undertand more than most because of the processes and documentation etc you're having to do with your art at the moment. It's a good discipline and it means we become "craftspeople", not just flaky and spontaneous (as lots of people seem to think).

I'm heading somewhere with this post and a few more to come so keep checking in and commenting (I know you do anyway).
Curious Peter curious! Looking forward to seeing what you do next.
And hello Jo and thanks so much for visiting my blog x
and applies in so many areas of life...i get it all the time too, not about art but about my lifestyle in general, what I do.... that flippant, uninterested "I don't get what you're doing, I don't understand it". What do you reply to that?? Before you say that to someone, about ANYTHING, actually get up off your arse and out of your tiny box and TRY to understand it, TRY to get it.. you might be surprised at what you find. this response comes from people who are LAZY!

wow, this really is one of those subjects that the more you think about the more RAGE comes to the surface! haha!
and trust me, the slap on the back of the legs? it hurts.

will definitely check out your blog when I've got a bit of time Caroline..

great post, i will immediately direct the next person to make such a comment within earshot to this blog!

It's SOOOOOO annoying, isn't it Claire? Like people telling me I should get a job ... like this one doesn't count. Or like you'll settle down ... like what you're doing NOW doesn't count!!! IT DOES. Too many straight people out there ... not enough eccentrics. What's that film where he shouts, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" LOL. And ... send them all over to me ... I can feel some serious leg-slapping coming on!!!
People - like me - probably don't get it - as least initially -but that's the point - having an interest in knowing and imagining, and a positive attitude to it is what is more important, its the rudeness and dismissiveness thats wrong.
So truth is and honestly I look at your stuff and most of the time I don't get it but that doesn't mean Im not interested in understanding or don't appreciate what you are trying to do.
I hope its ok to say I don't get it - but with the right attitude!
I'm a sort of Potter. Been playing with clay about 27yrs now.Even made a sort of living at it.Its not exactly art more half way between that and bricklaying 'cause we don't think as much.Three things I here all the time.I don't even think they annoy me now. Well not as much....Have you ever had a proper job?....Oh look darling you could make mummy one of those!...It's very nice but what would I use it for!...
Maddy ... it's the engagement with the process and the valuing of the person and the product that is important. "Getting it" is not the issue - as you say. In fact, I don't always want people to "get it". I want them to appreciate, think and value. Maybe a bit esoteric, I know, but not to be so lightly dismissed as it often is.

Duncan ... you know what it's like then! Someobody once said to a famous pianist, "I'd give my life to be able to play like you!" He replied, "I did".
Peter - your last comment to Maddy sums it up. It isn't about everyone liking everything that I write and do - it's about taking the time to look and see why choices have been made and how I reached a certain point. It's about respect I think ... respect for my time, effort and for my willingness to expose my innerself to the world. Dramatic, but true. The final work is a piece of me. But like you, maybe I'm naive and idealistic.

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