The Stories We Tell Each Other

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose” ` Benjamin Disraeli

Real tennis world championship, 1890, played a...

Real tennis world championship, 1890, played at the Dublin court built by Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1885 at his Earlsfort Terrace house. “The finish of the match for the tennis championship of the world.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read this quote and it reminded me of the difficulty most of us face when establishing a creative niche in the early years of artistic development.

Many people create in service to themselves, which is perfectly fine as long as you realize the purpose of your creation. I talk about this in an earlier post which you can find here.

Artists are makers of objects and experiences; objects and experiences that provoke, that comfort and that confirm our beliefs and values. We have emotional connections with objects which are symbolic of memories.

These emotional responses are results of the mundane, sublime and kitsch. My emotional connection with mid-knee flowing skirts go back a long way. When I wear this style of skirt, I feel fantastic. I’m transformed into a youthful, free-spirited woman. It’s the memory of my youth this textile object provokes.

I also have wonderful experiences with art works and objects given as gifts. For my sixteenth birthday, my mother bought me this quirky red ceramic cat that is kitschy cool and so 70’s. I still have it and every time I look at it I’m transported to a particular feeling and time in my life.

I think when an artist employs constancy of purpose in their work it becomes identifiable as the terms of the relationship between artist and client – or customer – or curator.

Another way to look at it is, my work is identifiable and the experiences people receive are consistent because creatively I’m not all over the place. I’ve committed to learning a language that communicates ideas in my style. I’m not distracted by shiny objects.

For this to happen, elements must be constant and recognizable, such as materials, a color palette, the subjects explored, or the style used.

It really doesn’t matter what industry we’re talking about, consistency is a trait that’s valued across fields. Bach, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles are all distinguishable and give specific experiences. The sounds these artists produce, the creative questions they explore are constant.

The school of Bauhaus was consistent in its approach to design and the transformation Karl Lagerfield created with the house of Coco Channel is still identifiable with her original design concepts of the 30’s.

This past long BC weekend, I visited the SAM museum in Seattle, Washington and had an emotional experience with the exhibit “The Treasures of Kenwood House, London”, a collection of works by European masters, owned by the 1st Earl of Iveagh, Edward Cecil Guinness. Until that day the work of Rembrandt, Hals, Turner and Van Dyck were only stories and pictures in history books. That weekend these historical artists became a life experience, an event that lingered long after I left the museum.

The viewers experience with art is always personal. What moves me doesn’t necessarily touch others, but I think what contributes to the longevity of works of art is the skill of the artist and how ideas are connect to common cultural experiences. Works of art tell us stories about our self.

Building momentum as a visual artist or as a creative entrepreneur is a long journey. Along the way relationships are forged, promises made and ideas shared. People depend on it.

Does this story connect with you? Do you agree or disagree?


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