Monday, March 2, 2009


Here's how I make my work:  I go into my studio and something takes me and forces me to make whatever it is that comes out.  It doesn't matter what I think about the thing I'm making.  I just have to make it.  It isn't even that simple because wherever I am , whatever I'm doing, something in my mind is planning what's going to happen when I get to my studio.   

That sounds kind of neat but it's actually hard.  I'm constantly questioning my actions.  Most of the time I like something I've made because I feel responsible for it and not because I think it's any good.

It's really hard to have spent seven years making work that you know is nowhere near what "experts" in your field would look at twice. 

It's hard to get to work every day and do something you don't understand.  For example right now I have to work with strawberries.  Not the juicy, sweet fragrant and delicious strawberries you might be picturing.  No.  I have to work with cartoony plastic strawberries with an artificial scent and polka dots instead of seeds.

I have no idea why.  I can't imagine how me making "artwork" based on fake strawberries could ever add up to anything remotely profound or useful.  I want to make better work.  I just can't figure out how.

I keep trying to think myself out of this predicament.  I keep trying to figure out a way to produce work that I'd receive praise for, that other people might respect.  I used to be pretty good at portraits.  Elizabeth Peyton does portraits and people approve.  People liked my black and white abstract work - at least in art school they did.  Mostly I felt like I was making shit up when I was making abstract paintings.  If I were a real artist I could think up a way to make what I want to make coincide with larger ideas going on in the contemporary art world.

You can figure out what people want to see, what people recognize as "Art."  It's not hard to jump on a bandwagon.  But I know that if I shot for a target audience and made what for me would be contrived bullshit I'd just feel sick all the time.  Besides whatever I made that way would still not be profound or meaningful.

Every day I confront the fact that the best way, the only way to be a successful artist (and I don't mean commercially though that would be great) is to let the thing that drives drive, hope to God it's going somewhere good and don't try to grab the steering wheel.

That means more and more years of not knowing what the hell I'm doing.

I actually like not knowing what the hell I'm doing.  But I don't have a good explanation to give other people for why I'm doing it.  Nor can I explain why I do it when it isn't financially rewarding or even producing many successful objects.   I can't justify to others why I put all my resources into making the things I make.  I do know, though, that I desperately desperately don't want to stop making them.

I'll never stop making my work no matter what anybody thinks about it.  Letting go and surrendering to the thing that's driving feels too good.  It's transcendent.  I guess it's a kind of chemical dependency and I'll put up with any amount of disapproval to be able to feel that again and again.

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