My Initial Reaction
From the financial aspect, an artist is “supposed to have” a consistent body of work. So you fit in a box. A sellable box. Labels. So you’re controllable and explainable in a flash card mentality way (this equals that). That’s anti-intellectual. It’s an insult. It turns out that it’s a cruel request that undermines not just an artist but the arts. Here’s how.
It’s like slamming square pegs into round holes. No one wants to be pegged or frozen in time. It’s not realistic. It’s not very observant either. Did the masters chain themselves to the consistency box or did they experiment and learn? They experimented. Sometimes those experimentations were failures. Even Leonardo da Vinci experimented and failed. He constantly experimented. He knew that experimentation, resulting active observations, and reaching new heights or discoveries are intrinsically entangled. He wore many hats too, as it were. And we admire the results. People are multidimensional. They’re holistic. They evolve over their lifetime or at least I hope they do.
Artists don’t soar in cages.
No one should demand that, by staying in the consistent body of work box, artist should allow parts of them, the parts that want to experiment, learn, soar, try new things, and take things in a different direction, to be alienated. Ostracized. Kept out of the light. Come here so we can sell you but ostracize huge chunks of you, as if you’re a side of beef we can carve up. Ugh. That’s an anti-magical binding spell of sorts, it really is.
Again, it undermines not just an artist but the arts.
So I’m going to dive in. I’m learning. My work is going to vary. A lot.
Related Pages (Not Mine):
- On Avoiding a Consistent Body of Work, by The Friendly Anarchist blog — On the rejection of understanding art merely as art-work.
- Why Produce a Consistent Body of Work?, by Leni Wiener — A Consistent Body of Work as knowing yourself and your value … and growing from there. Hmmmm. What does that even mean?
- How to Create a Consistent Body of Work (video), by youtube user Cedar Lee
Now A Tempered Response
Cedar Lee’s video (above) is the only bit I’ve seen so far that readily makes sense in the morass of issues and perspectives before me. Set specific restraints, follow them, and this allows you to try to find simplest and easiest solution to any problem. If you have too many options, you’re scattered and tend to do the obvious, the predictable, the boring. If you focus on fewer options but take them to the limits, you blossom. You push yourself. Makes sense. It’s practical too.
For me at this point and time in my life, the truth is somewhere between my initial reaction and my more tempered response. But Cedar Lee gives good starting points, that’s for sure.