Yesterday I started working with artist Joe Valasek, helping him write the copy for his website at Carveture.com We discussed how to tell his story. Joe expressed confusion about separating his commercial design work from his gallery art.
He wondered if he should have two websites, because gallery owners might be put off by his commercial work.
Joe began his career carving wood with hand tools, but now he uses a cutting edge (pun intended) process with ArtCam Pro software to create amazing and distinctive carvings. Again, he was reluctant to emphasize the technology because art gallery owners might look down their nose at sculptural pieces that are not hand-carved.
I advised Joe to keep one website, to include a page that fully describes the technology he employs, and to be completely unapologetic about his medium of choice. This is just my opinion, but when I saw the clouds clear from Joe’s eyes, I knew I’d made the right call. He was immediately happier and much more confident about the entire website project.
Valasek said, “I want to tell galleries that these software developers never even thought of using their product the way I do. And I’m sure, in ten years, this will be taught in art schools everywhere.”
When Luciano Pavarotti saw Joe’s carved wall, Dawn Forest, in Portland Oregon, he said, “That is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
Uh huh. Pavarotti. Yet there sits the artist, stewing in anticipated defense against artworld criticism and classification.
Many artists are apologetic, unsure, or vexed by distinctions:
Commercial art or real art? Art or craft? Decoration or articulation? Divine inspiration or just illustration?
Will I be labeled a craftsperson if I work in non-traditional art mediums?
Is bad art better than good craft?
Should we insist that advertisers change “the art of shaving” to “the craft of shaving?”
The conversation about art and craft distinctions is not one that interests me.
The whole topic is a yawner, best reserved as an exit cue for designated drivers.
Make what you make, collect what you collect and show what you show. Name it what you will.
Theorist and inventor Buckminster Fuller would call the discussion of art vs. craft, “a consequence of the slavish “categoryitis.” He wrote extensively about how specialization in our culture causes profound problems.
He declared, “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category.” I Seem to Be a Verb (1970)
July 13-14, I’ll be signing books at Urban Craft Uprising at the Seattle Center. If someone wants to organize Urban Art Uprising, I’ll be glad to sign books there, too!
Artists, make no apologies and take no superiority trips about what you make or why you make it. I’ll leave you with one last Buckminster Fuller quote:
“Take the initiative. Go to work, and above all co-operate and don’t hold back on one another or try to gain at the expense of another. Any success in such lopsidedness will be increasingly short-lived.”
“Fabric” by Joe Valasek