State The Nature Of The Influence Simply


It helps you to both better understand and to more effectively communicate the nature of your influences if you take the time to state it simply. Usually, this doesn’t just happen instantly. First, it takes identifying who or what the influence is. Next, it takes a series of thoughts and associations. Then, it takes a little organization. Finally, it takes a little editing; cutting the words that aren’t quite right and searching for the ones that are.
Very often the connections between ideas and feelings and their progressions aren’t clear until you start organizing them. Finding these insights is the biggest benefit of taking time to reflect on your influences. (To do this, nothing helps me more than writing. Often, it’s not the kind of writing that I might share publicly; sometimes notes, outlines, and unfinished sentences are more effective. The goal of this kind of writing is discovery and clarity not publication.)
When you’re exploring your influences ask yourself questions. Questions guide explorations away from unprofitable areas and into useful territories. Questions reenergize and sustain processes of discovery. Ask yourself a few of these questions. What is the root of the influence? Is it physical? Is it intellectual? Is it emotional? If it’s many things at once, what is and what is the relative weight of each of those things? Does one influence share elements or qualities with other influences?
Try to state the nature of an influence in one sentence.
And try to state the nature of an influence in one phrase or one word.
Simplicity has many advantages. For instance, simple things are easier to remember and easier to share. Never confuse simple-mindedness with simplicity. Simplicity often represents the height of sophistication, arrived at only after some if not considerable effort and practice. If you can present a complex subject in a simple way without sacrificing essential content, you truly understand it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why simple solutions are so elegant.
At first it might seem strange to generate a lot of information only to boil it down to a little but if you try it you’ll find that the insights you’re left with will be extremely concentrated. Writers, musicians, and photographers all do this at one or more points in their creative process. Try it when you consider your influences. You’ll understand them better – and your own works too.
Here’s a simple distillation of one of my influences stated in one sentence and one word.
Joel Peter Witkin explores taboo, which sensationally gives a rise that quickly fades, and darkness (not necessarily evil), which disturbs and awakens indefinitely.
Shock
Read Why Tracking Your Influences Is So Important here.
Read Ranking Your Influences here.
Find out more about my influences here.









 

Making the Visual Verbal


Many take the view that pictures should be seen and not heard. I did. After being called to comment on my work time and time again, I realized that learning to comment on my work not only made my work more effective but it also helped me understand my work better and solve certain creative challenges. In fact, I realized that there are many types of writing and many uses for writing. Writing is now an integral part of my creative process from start to finish. Making the Visual Verbal is a useful skill that can benefit everyone, including you. You don’t think you can write? Anyone can finish a sentence. Finishing it well just takes practice. And some kinds of writing don’t need finished sentences. While it’s true there’s only one Shakespeare, we can all write. After all, think of all the great writing (fiction and nonfiction) that’s been written since Shakespeare. Personally, I don’t want to receive love letters written by Shakespeare. I want love letters written to me by my wife.
Here’s a piece I wrote several years ago on scottkelby.com.
Tune in tomorrow for a new piece on scottkelby.com – Developing Personal Projects.
Making the Visual Verbal
“Pictures should be seen and not heard.” “If we could communicate what we want to communicate with words, then we’d be writers not artists.” The words had rained down on me so many times that my mind had been saturated with the idea. While it reflects some truth, chiefly that a text (written or verbal) can never be a substitute for an image, it can also be misleading. Pictures have always been, continue to be, and will always be talked about-particularly by artists.
Growing up in an artistic family, the parade of visitors and people we visited included many types of artists from musicians to sculptors and most frequently photographers. The topics of conversation were far-reaching and colorful. Often there would be complaints about what had been written about their own work, sometimes about what had been written about each other’s work, or ……what had been written about other artist’s work. Then, if they existed, out would come quotes from an artist’s personal writings that were used to illuminate, reinforce or refute varied points of view (Artist’s letters, journals, interviews and statements have always held a special position in the history of art. They have forever shaped the commentary that surrounds work.) Inevitably, the very same artists, who claimed that artists should remain mute, would be lured into giving a lecture or an interview about their work. Artists approach the process of making the visual verbal with mixed feelings; part trepidation, part confirmation, part validation. To be sure, while there are many pitfalls to be avoided, there are many positive byproducts to making the visual verbal.
Writing can illuminate new avenues of inquiry for the viewer and in so doing enrich the entire viewing process, including the subsequent viewing process of future works by other artists. Writing is a process of revelation, It is a process of making thought visible. It is a matter of clarifying a process of thinking. By making what was intuitively sensed visible to the conscious mind, the familiar is clarified and the unfamiliar is brought to light.
Writing about images is inevitable. This kind of writing has always been there. It always will be. Someone, somewhere, sometime will write about your images. You have a great deal to contribute to the process. Along the way, you’re likely to find that writing about your work will be extremely revealing.
Many positive things happen when you engage writing. You will understand your work better. You will be able to communicate more clearly about your work. You will affirm the strengths of your work. You will be able to chart your own artistic development over time. You may even be able to uncover the seeds that will provide future growth in your work.
There are a variety of ways to make the visual verbal. There are artist’s journals, artist’s statements and writing exercises that can be used to get to the core of the inner life of work. There are ways to prepare for interviews; these days many interviews are conducted through writing over the Internet. There are lectures, and writing and rehearsing creates a solid structure for them. Writing can be a tremendous aid to any creative endeavor at any stage in the process …
Read the rest here on scottkelby.com.
Find more tips on writing here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read interviews I’ve given here.
Read my conversations with photographers here.
Learn more in my digital photography workshops.

Writing Artist's Statements

artistsstatements
It’s important to learn how to make the visual verbal, by crafting artist’s statements. Many artists feel that images are better seen and not heard. I understand their point of view. But, face it, things will be said and written about your images. If you don’t do it, someone else will. You might as well become involved in the process. After all, as the author, this is one arena where your words are definitive.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to write. Just write. Write like you speak. Write with your voice.
Like making images, writing is a process, a process of making thoughts and feelings clearer. Often, you don’t know what shape the final product will take, until you finish.
At first, I resisted writing about my images. Now, I find the process so valuable that I’ve made it a part of my artistic process. Every time a new body of work arises, I write. When I’m ready to release a book of the work, I write again. As a result of writing, I gain a better understanding of the work I did, the work I’m doing, and the work I’m going to do. So do the people who see my images, surprisingly, even if they don’t read what I write.
This is an excerpt from a longer essay Artists’ Statements. Download it here.
Read my artist’s statements here.
Read the text from three recent books here.
Learn more in my Fine Art Digital Printing Workshops.

Tell A Story Three Ways

write_123
Before you photograph, write. Tell the story of your subject. Actually, tell three stories. First, tell the story in third person as a distant observer – “Just the facts ma’am.” Next, tell the story in first person as an involved participant – “How do I feel?” Finally, tell the story as if you were the subject being observed – “How does it feel to be you?” You’ll find surprising shifts in perspective come when you take a little time to consider things from many perspectives, especially your subjects’. Compare and contrast the similarities and differences that each perspective brings.
After you’ve done a little research, photograph. Can you make photographs from each perspective? Can you make photographs that reflect the differences in perspectives? Which perspective offers the most classic view? Which perspective offers the most unusual view? Which perspective offers the most insight? After you spend a little time with these questions, you’ll find that you’ll make deeper photographs because you considered your subject and your self on many levels.
Find more online resources in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more creative techniques in my Illuminating Creativity workshops.

Take Inventory of Your Associations

write_associations
Before you photograph, write. After you identify the things happening outside you, take a little time to explore what’s going on inside you. The events around us trigger many associations and emotions, sometimes subtle and sometimes dramatic. Often, it’s the inner dimensions of ourselves that we bring to image making that make our work truly moving to other people. We all bring something different to each and every moment. To really be there, you have to know who you are. Find out. What are you bringing to the picture? Did you show up?
Write spontaneously and unselfconsciously. Give yourself freely to the moment. Be thorough. Go deep. Write until you have nothing left to say. And when you feel you don’t have anything left to say, ask yourself if that’s really so. Don’t evaluate your results or yourself until after you finish. Tell yourself how you really feel. Later, you can decide what to share with the rest of the world and how you’d like to do it. This kind of personal research will help you gain a greater understanding of your world, your self, and your photography. As a result, all three will improve.
Find more online resources in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more creative techniques in my Illuminating Creativity workshops.

Take Inventory With Verbs

writeverbs
Before you photograph, write. After you identify the things in your environment, identify the actions taking place. For photographs to transcend being visual inventory they need to tell a story. That means something has to happen in them. You need verbs. Whether they’re quiet or dramatic verbs are always active. Often we don’t recognize all the things that are happening around us simultaneously.
There’s so much going on we miss some things. Slowing down and looking carefully helps you see more. Some things happen so slowly that we don’t think of them as happening, but every thing is really an event moving from the past through the present to the future. If you become more mindful of the events around you and their interconnections, you’ll make more insightful images.
New habits don’t come easily. Set a goal. 50 verbs. Set a timeline. 3-5 minutes. And try this again. The benefits grow as you become more adept at this skill, through practice.
Find more online resources in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more creative techniques in my Illuminating Creativity workshops.

Take Inventory With Nouns

listnouns
Before you photograph, write. When you first arrive on a new location you can quickly become overstimulated or even overwhelmed by all the new sights, sounds, smells, and events. Make sense of it all and make sure you don’t miss anything by taking inventory. Make a list of all the things you see. Start with nouns, the things themselves. You’ll find that in the process of writing things down you’ll notice more than you ordinarily do.
Push yourself a little. Give yourself a quota. Set a minimum number of words – 50. And set a minimum amount of time – 3-5 minutes. A little time invested at the right time will pay big dividends. When you start making photographs you’ll already have found a lot of ideas and you can pursue and refine the best ones.
Find more online resources in my Creativity Lessons.
Learn more creative techniques in my Illuminating Creativity workshops.