Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FavoriteThing(s)ThisWeek aka An Interesting Manifesto

James Kochalka is a comic artist. There is a cornucopia of his work through the years available at his website. His work tends toward simplicity and cute. But, there is also a very provocative side to him as well evidenced I think by the image above and the mini-manifesto below.

This idea that craft is the enemy is very interesting to me. I would suggest that there is some value to it, but that it is a very dangerous idea as well.

Why wait? Profundity and Virtuosity... are they synonymous? Is this approach to comic making less applicable to other creative medium? Perhaps our time is truly valuable because of brevity, which means that one should spend only as much time as necessary in the realm of craft if one is teeming with content?

Or is craft sometimes a distraction? Can the pursuit of virtuosity be a sort of self-centered worship that can leave little room for other ears and eyes and exchanges? Or that can distract one from actually completing a task at hand because you believe the artist you'll be tomorrow can do it better than the artist you are today?

Issac Butler and I tossed some ideas around briefly while talking about Jason the Comic Artist. I'd love to know what other folks think about craft, how much is essential, is there such a thing as too much? Etc.etc.

1 comment:

Nathan R said...

Personally, I know that I have cited lack of knowledge or lack of "craft" as an excuse to procrastinate. I'm sure I'm not entirely conscious of it, but I know that I have often made excuses for not following through with a creative idea because I felt I just didn't have the necessary tools/resources at the time.

Or perhaps I've used that excuse because I'm afraid of failure. Or I'm flat-out afraid that my creative ideas aren't really as strong as I initially think, so I negate them because I sometimes consider myself an amateur.

To jump off of some of the other thoughts on this entry, I definitely believe there is such a thing as too much craft. To me, craft is what you learn so you can unlearn it and dismantle it. If one becomes a slave to craft/technique/method, it very often hinders creativity, in my opinion. It's frustrating to work with artists who insist upon doing things consistantly "by the book," and to me, that is a sign of someone who is more of a craftsman than an artist (that topic's a whole 'nother blog post, I'm sure).

But by the same token, it's just as frustrating to collaborate with someone who plays by their own rules to the point of throwing craft away. It's not the enemy. It's a set of tools. An artist (of any medium) can use those tools to color within the lines and paint by numbers, or an artist can modify the tools to suit her/his needs in creating something truly unique. Neither extreme usually produces extraordinary results (in general), but the value of these extremes is worth examining. Hell, someone had to break the rules and allow the craft to evolve, so there is always value in that. But I think there's a danger in breaking the rules of the craft just for the sake of doing it.