When I was in an artists' support group some years ago, our only means of communication was by phone and the only artists I had met locally all worked in a two-dimensional medium. We do have lots of fine craft artists in Vermont but you could only get to their studios by trekking through snow or over muddy roads or just wait until they had gallery shows and hope that they were staged in the warm months.
So with the advent of the Internet I now have many friends online who work in various media. We have Facebook, Flickr and the blogosphere where we meet and converse and share ideas and critique each others' work.
But I think there are true dangers to the creative life in the trend to present your work in the social media. It's great to get your work out there to a wider audience but are we becoming approval junkies? Do you ever find the need to be liked shaping your art? Causing you to re-think a design? The risk is that staying in the same groove may win approval and nice comments on Flickr or Facebook but may cause us to play it safe when it comes to swinging out there to make innovations or try new techniques.
Although what I do is not driven by the market--that is, I don't sell my work to earn a living, I have heard from other designers that their customers do appreciate innovation and new designs. So the many online opportunities that exist to challenge your creativity are excellent motivators as long as you're not just turning in work to meet a deadline at the expense of quality.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am participating in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party Three and our reveal date is this Saturday. I have a beautiful stash of beads and objects from my partner this time, Lyn Foley and although I have a design already sketched out, I'll be disappointed if I'm not challenged in making it all come together. For me, that's the reward for taking the risk of putting myself and my work out there. To find out something new as I'm working. To discover a new technique or a new material. To make a new connection with another artist. I'm taking a pledge to quit obsessing about recognition and get on with tuning in to the creative Muse, to let her inspire new breakthroughs and insights in 2011.
Here are a couple of photos of work that I did for a recent online challenge that has inspired several notebook pages' worth of ideas. It doesn't get any better than that!
Lantern beads - polymer clay and oil pastels
Evening of a Summer's Day
Polymer clay, agate, pearls, African glass spacers, Czech glass beads