(Cover by Paul Guzenko for Pathfinder Society Field Guide)
I really enjoy reading the Muddy Colors blog. I can find here a lot of interesting thoughts from eight professional artists in the publishing industry.
Recently, one of these artists Dan Dos Santos has made a blog entry about an interview with Francis Ford Coppola (Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration) and provided a quote. Now I want to talk about an idea from there.
[hide-this-part morelink=”Show the rest”]The main idea is “be original, try to do something new, take a risk”. I’ve heard these kind of ideas very often. But, what does this idea of new and very original movement means? One of the basic principles of communication in modern society is “each communication requires to translate the message from the language of a sender into the language of a receiver by code, which is culture” (you can find more about this in books by Roland Barthes and Uriy Lotman). Therefore, a receiver of any message will understand those ideas that he already knows or has been prepared to receive them. You may have heard this idea from postmodern thinkers. One of my favorite quotes related to this, has been made by Italian medievalist, semiotician and great European thinker Umberto Eco in Liberation newspaper: “the occult only believe what they already know and what corroborates what they’ve already heard.” So, what is the real original and fresh thought? How can an artist strike the people’s minds?
Most art historians and critics have a retrospective view on an object. They don’t see how an artist has tried and failed, they only can see what is connected to the goal. They can’t see all failed attempts because these bad things, which are what a viewer is not able to see and understand, don’t have a straight connection to the result. So, any artist makes unnumbered mistakes, which helps him to find the best way to express himself. He makes many things, but fewer of them are successful. Why? Maybe because of an environment?
The influence is a very important aspect in an artist’s work. An artist doesn’t work in a vacuum. Every artist works under an influence from other people, nature, objects and events that happen with him and his society. So, he or she has to stand a huge pressure from an environment. We can’t know what exactly from this pressure was involved in a particular piece of artwork, but each of them somehow or other is influenced.
So, if we still hold on to this point of view, we will get a strange result. An artist makes many things to approach his goal, but not everything is visible in the result. He or she can reduce the influence of environment on his/her work, but can’t completely reject it. Should an artist share own result with all these things that were involved in his/her work? Is it just progressive motion of whole culture rather than something original or different? And again, what does it mean to be original, to take a risk in art?
I believe an environment always is involved in an artist’s work. So, I just need to accept and use it in every way possible. I watch a lot of films, play video and board games, read books and get tons of visual information from Internet. All this has influenced on me. I, as an artist, have a strong personality, which helps me to channel an influence in the right direction. I can’t do a good piece of art for the game industry if I don’t like games and know nothing about their environment and why people like them.
I agree with Francis Ford Coppola, I have to take a risk. Moreover, I need to work in an environment that I have completely accepted and matched to me. Here is where I can face a risk — to accept all of those things that influence me and use them as I like, but don’t reject them. Here is where my unique features will be activated. I will only be able to make a very interesting and original piece of artwork if I like my environment and am attentive to myself.