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Language Log

Monday, Mar. 01, 2010 - 1:19 p.m.

Self-taught. I like self-taught sometimes. Self-taught artists can produce things from a different perspective, and make compelling and valuable artistic objects that would never have come out of formal training.

I'm a self-taught calligrapher and jewelry-maker. There's a lot I don't know, but I like to think my work stands on its own well. I'm pretty sure this is true for the jewelry. For the calligraphy, it remains to be seen. I don't feel I've found my voice with it yet. And I have to ask, is the problem here that I'm not trained enough in the fundamentals (something professional calligraphers value highly), or is it that I'm _too_ bound by the standards of the well-executed calligraphy I've seen and admired over the years? Holding myself to standards I can't meet instead of making the most of what I have?

Or, given that I'm not going to be selling my calligraphy any time soon, why should I care? Why can't I give up on conforming to what I understand others' standards to be and just create to my own satisfaction? Just make something I like, and do the best job of it I can?

I suspect that I'm lazy, and I suspect that if I actually had a coherent vision for my calligraphy, I wouldn't worry so much. I would then be happy to say that foundations are foundations and that lacking these foundations, perhaps I'm not a good calligrapher, but I like what I do so fuck it. In the meantime, practice practice practice, or work on that vision?

What I would like, I guess, is to not be lazy-- to both find my own vision, perhaps in defiance of some norms if that's how it turns out to be, and also be able to masterfully wield the tools to bring it into being. Not be all half-assed about it. But I am kinda half-assed.

I still wonder, is it important to be able to do things technically well-formed, so long what the end result is interesting and compelling? I respect hard work and training within a tradition, but still I suspect the answer is 'no'.

Perhaps I will just go eat lunch now.

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