Recently, I was contacted by my friend and fellow artist Mickey Duzyj to participate in a project that he put together for his business of illustration class at the School of Visual Arts. Mickey asked various artists, writers, and thinkers to submit links to their favourite free online videos, which he then compiled into a list to give to his students, to hopefully inspire them. Brilliant.
Here's my submission; it's from a TED talk by Elif Shafak. To follow is part of the email that I sent to Mickey describing the reason for my choice.
Elif Shafak was born in France, she writes in Turkish and in English. Here's the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/elif_shafak_the_politics_of_fiction.html
I saw this talk on Ted some months ago and have never forgotten it, which is why I chose to send it to you. It gave me inspiration not only in way of learning how to nurture my imagination, but it also made me change the way that I have chosen to give talks whenever I'm invited to do so.
Hopefully it's less slide lecture and catalogue of my work, and more talk about my thought process when creating pieces.
Shafak speaks about the art of storytelling - and I immediately latched onto it via my own experience of storytelling through illustration; not in a premeditated sequential sense, but moreso in a poetic and organic way; using memory and life experience to inform the art, draw what you "feel" and creatively sitting in a space that is "in between" which will likely be uncomfortable. I love this.
I think illustration can be learned in a very formulaic way; the creation of pictures via visual metaphor, using elements and design principles to navigate the viewer throughout the viewing surface in order to lead him or her to the perfect spots, which when connected, constructs the meaning or content of the piece.
But what's more elusive is trying to bring subtleties that can only be achieved by instinct, by viscerally feeling what is right at that moment, and then marking it onto the page... or stopping, so that the picture can reveal some special kind of nuance to the viewer. I don't know if this can be taught?
... maybe it needs to be felt?
maybe it needs to be learned and felt through experience? by being prolific?
I don't know.
I'm not even sure i know if my writing reads clearly, but it's something that I strive to make manifest in my work whenever possible. Sometimes commercial illustration inspires limitations just from its namesake: the word "commercial" is rooted in commerce; it's for a mass audience -- to make money, to sell - I don't see this as a bad thing at all, just a plain truth.
However, there are still those opportunities that exist, in which clients collaborate with the illustrator to circumvent this typical process in order to create a piece that is much more striking -- Soojin Buzelli is one of these art directors, I believe.
Somewhere in the middle of her talk, when Shafak describes the aftermath of the quake, she doesn't focus on the ruins of the city, settling of the tremors, but instead on the silent unspoken union, and quiet gesture between two individuals, a conservative grocer, and a transvestite, who may never share any of kind of commonality. But the sharing of the cigarette, the shock in their faces, the experience of the quake, brings these two strangers together.