Paper Fiend: Inspirations, Obsessions, and Curiosities from the Web to Nourish the Soul of a Paper-Lovercomments (10) April 27th, 2009
Pablo Picasso once said, "Bad artists copy. Good artists steal." I interpret that his line of demarcation ran between those who imitate the work of others and those who are inspired by the work of others to create new work of their own. Imitators often produce derivative works that are a diminishment of the original, whereas those who are inspired often create work that is inventive in nature and actually an enhancement of what came before. In music one often finds this in the many "variations on a theme," which far exceed in beauty the original tune upon which they were based: good composers providing the seed of inspiration for greater composers to expand upon and develop.
In the craft world, the same lessons apply. Don't get me wrong; I copy plenty. Copying helps me learn technique and practice precision. Copying (disclaimer: within legal limits, of course) is not a crime, and one of the underlying reasons for this blog and the craft projects I post here is to create an opportunity for others to learn, based, in part, on the idea that they will attempt to copy what I've done.
However, once you have a set of skills, and are familiar with your materials, how do you incorporate all of that accumulated knowledge into something original? For me (and for millions like me, I suspect), the kernel of inspiration comes from looking at the works of others. That moment, when I see something beautiful and think, "I love that, but I wonder what would happen if I just tweaked it a bit and did this...," well...that moment is miraculous!
So this week, having already offered months' worth of projects for readers to copy on their own, I thought I'd take a moment to show you another part of my creative process, and share with you some of my favorite sources of inspiration. Many readers have generously left comments on my posts, praising my work, and I thank them for that. But, such praise belongs only partially to me because some of it must be shared with the many other artists and crafters and makers out there who are busy creating absolutely mind-boggling work that inspires me.
So, in keeping with the spirit of craftstylish.com to share and share alike, I wanted to give you a glimpse of some of my paper heroes; people whose work in paper (or just love of paper) feed and nourish my own infatuation with the medium.
Below I feature five Websites/artists who I feel definitely deserve your attention. I encourage anyone with a favorite you feel equally strong about supporting to take a moment and tell us about them in the comment section below. With a little participation, I feel confident we could amass a rather spectacular catalog of paper resources for others to browse, marvel at, and be inspired by. The goal is to begin opening up more of a dialogue on this page where information comes not only from me to readers but from readers back to me and, best of all, from readers to readers.
Please visit these sites and explore the works featured there (a tiny sample of which I offer below). I can't wait to hear what you think and to see what new sites and artists you may wish to share with us all. Thanks for opening up and sharing your favorite bookmarks with the CraftStylish community. I'm looking forward to many, many hours of online discoveries to come.
Mein Inspiration is, quite possibly, my favorite Website ever. The site's author, Elaine Lee, is a lecturer, writer, and designer/maker living in Singapore, and her site is a vast collection of things she's found inspiring. That she has assembled such an expansive and diverse selection of works by an equally varied number of artists and makers working with paper attests to her drive. That each piece she features is likely to look like nothing you've ever seen before attests to her exacting eye in curating works on the site. I visit at least once a week (and often far more frequently) to remind myself to have big ideas, to be unafraid of paper challenges, and to revel in the beauty of the exquisitely made object.
Tara Donovan is a New York-born artist living in Brooklyn. Her work is shown at the Ace Gallery and is featured on their site. Beyond the sheer beauty of her pieces lies the fact that she is a genius at elevating the mundane and quotidian to the level of fine art. There is a great lesson for me in her work; whenever I feel the seductive pull of expensive papers or the need for some new specialized tool, I visit this site to remind myself what utterly fantastic things can be accomplished with Scotch tape (first two pictures, above) and plastic cups (second set of photos, above). Check out what she is capable of creating when given pencils, fishing line, or straws (well...10,000 straws, but still...).
Michael Velliquette is an artist living and working in Madison, Wisconsin. There is no denying his work is art (and clearly, his many awards, grants, and solo and group shows at galleries support that notion), but what draws me to his work is its foundation in, and utter reliance upon, craft; chiefly, cutting and gluing paper. The palette he employs will look familiar to anyone who has sought out colorful paper at their local craft stores. One of the frustrations of mass-market paper is its very limited (and at times, garish) color palette, but this artist turns that liability into an asset and the results never fail to fill me with joy just looking at them.
There's not much I can say about Mark Wagner and his art that the work itself cannot convey more powerfully and succinctly. His unparalleled skill in the production of his work and his love of U.S. currency compels me to say, "Go, browse, enjoy."
Elsa Mora's work is not easily categorized. Much of the work on display at her site employs traditional paper silhouette techniques, but her choice of subject matter, and her surrealist's take on it, puts her in a category far outside the tradition. By turns sweet and charming and disturbing and grotesque, her pictures seem to gently invite you to come closer and take a good look before her subject matter jumps out and punches you in the face. I think the results are gorgeous.
A Note about Twitter
If you enjoyed this post and are not currently a member of Twitter (www.twitter.com), you may wish to consider signing up. I make a regular habit of sharing these sorts of resources (great sites, interesting artists, and unexpected techniques) in my Tweets. You can find me @jeffrudell. Come on over and say hi.