Speaking of Creative Process....Open Discussion

Let's have a discussion. I want some insight and perspective with this.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my 'style', and the fact that a lot of successful artists are known for 'their style'. Part of this makes me question what my style is, and what I need to do to exploit it. I sat down the other day and wrote down a list of possible lines that my work could be titled as. There's like 7 different lines I could have within my work. That's not exactly conducive to being able to concentrate on something and expand on it. So now...what do I look at?

Do I look at what I love, and how production-oriented it is? Do I select a certain number of aspects and focus in?

I read a great article from Metalsmith on Heather White Van Stolk (Metalsmith, Summer 2006, Vol. 26 No. 2) and was fascinated with her evolution of work. It was inspiring, to say the least.

I have always wanted to make work that I am attracted to. That makes my heart tighten and tingle like other artists' work does. Some of what I'm making right now is just for sell-ability, and not necessarily from my heart. It doesn't necessarily say "Catherine Chandler"...at all. I feel like I'm at a turning point. Of course I want to make things that sell, but I don't want to sell out.

I'm wondering what has worked for other artists, in a way. Do they still experiment on the side, learn new techniques to add to their style, while at the same time producing work for galleries in their signature style? Do they feel they've given up something by concentrating on a fewer number of techniques?



  1. all i can really say is that i feel i am in the same place as you.
    i am trying to figure out how to make my work cohesive, yet still have the freedom to experiment.

    i also plan on incorporating new techniques into the style i already enjoy. i think i can include mokume game and riveting without totally destroying what little cohesiveness i may have.

  2. First it is really hard to pinpoint what gives a persons work an overall style. Sometimes an artist's "style" is "no-style". What I mean to say is that they are soooooo all over that place that you can't pin down what it is you like about their work.

    I believe that the word "style" is kind of hard to use when describing anyone's work because it's definition is so subjective (I remember having countless conversations in graduate seminar classes trying to determine what style is....I don't think we ever got anywhere).

    If I was forced to answer I would say that an artist's style is their unique way of problem solving. For example: your preferred method of fabrication, materials choice, fusing versus soldering, patina versus paint, wood inlay versus epoxy, etc etc. Artists make unique choices that makes their work, their work. I think that after a period of making, your work will develop a style on its own. I wouldn't force it.

    My only other suggestion is to make whatever you want. Try new things and don't be afraid to change it up a little. When I have an itch up my but to design a web page or make some large 2D prints, I just do it because I know that I am going to do it differently than anyone else. I also truly believe that a lot of art happens when you are not paying attention. I am not saying don't think about what you are making, just don't force it.

    This is going to sound cheesy but sometimes I assign myself a problem and try to solve it. For example I will give myself two materials and then think, that if these two materials were to have a baby what would it look like? What shape would it be?, what color?, etc etc. I think about what physical attributes could be used form each material to make a whole. "You have your mother's eyes and your father's nose" only it would be more like: "You have your mother's green color and your father's organic shape" Maybe this way of working is a style?

    I hope this helps and it wasn't all jibber jabber. P.S. I look at that titanium rod everyday. I am still working on it :)

  3. Stacey....I've been sitting down a lot and writing lists of collections. It definitely helps to create a vision of what I have, and where I can go with it, as well as where I want to go with other items and what I want to learn.

    Arthur....thank you! You made me laugh, and you bring up some really good points. I think you definitely have your own style because of the colors, materials, and shapes/forms you gravitate towards. It will definitely be interesting to see what you come up with when you start working with the Ti! Thank you for the encouragement to experiment...obviously I'll be doing a lot of that since I'm doing my second BFA program for the next 3.5 years.

    Sometimes it just seems that when you're starting with a new material/technique there's a lot of to-and-fro before you figure out how to integrate it into your 'style' (good point on defining style, btw).

    Also, in today's economy, I feel like I should be building a cohesive body of work that is noticeable and desired. Ideally, anyway.

  4. I've been struggling with the same questions for quite awhile. I finally feel that I have a "look". I didn't force it just knew that it eventually would happen. I think when you find specific techniques and materials that you just can't imagine not working with you have it!

  5. Hi Catherine, Those are good questions you're asking yourself, and you're one step ahead just thinking about those things.

    I think that we as artists many times become obsessed with things that catch our attention, and basically that is how "collections", "styles", or whatever you want to call them begin.

    I also wanted to let you know: "You're IT". Yes, you've been tagged, and if you are interested in playing, visit my blog for the rules. I hope you play! ;)


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