Neil Gaiman–Make Good Art

Today I received an email with a link to Zen Pencils. There are some illustrations based on comments made by Neil Gaiman in a commencement address given to the University of the Arts. Thank you Neil for reminding me to not forget “the journey to my destination.” Sometimes I allow life stuff to consume my studio time.

Neil stated that he learned to write by writing. That brought to mind Art & Fear, a book that I read during my first year of college teaching. There is a story about a ceramics class and their project for the term. The class was divided into two groups–the “quantity” group and the “perfection” group. The quantity group would be evaluated on the weight of their work at the end of the term and the perfection group would be evaluated on their one perfect pot.

Most folks know that the more work you make, the better work you make. Mistakes and pieces that don’t quite work can offer loads of important information, perhaps even new techniques added to your bag of tricks. I feel that making lots of work allows me to be more creative and not too fussy with a single piece.

If a piece doesn’t quite work, why? Perhaps something does–the combination of materials, a technique that I might want to develop, or maybe the work is so ugly a hammer is in order.

In undergrad there was the Ugly Wall and in grad school Bisque Ware Bowling.

“the journey to my destination”

I had the pleasure of taking a film class when I was an undergrad. Much has stuck with me. We viewed François Truffaut’s film, Day for Night, a film within a film. Truffaut is the director of the film and plays Ferrand, the director in the film. There is a quote about process that often comes to mind when I am working on a piece and something isn’t going quite right.

“Shooting a movie is like a stagecoach trip. At first you hope for a nice ride. Then you just hope to reach your destination.”

The titles of my Avian Headboxes are the result of my love of literature and film.

A few of the titles are Ferrand  from Day for Night, Adele  from The Story of Adele H., and Victor  from The Wild Child.


Leave a Reply