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  • And look, I’m not immune to some good design, or a moment of inspirational escapism. I have an inspiration board, even if most of it is comprised of images I find pretty or pictures of family and friends. I get that sometimes we don’t have to be so serious, and that we can take a little boost wherever we can get it, even if the advice in question doesn’t actually help us. But one thing I’ve learned in making some real, hard-earned progress this year — on things like raising my credit score, changing my career, building a business, and dealing with a sick family member — it’s that the things that actually help you are the things that never sound good on paper. “Cutting out the noise” was not an option, nor was “chasing my dreams.” The advice that mattered was hard, boring information from family, paid professionals, and rejection emails. I didn’t improve my credit score by learning to Let Go Of The Material, I improved it by using credit cards in a very strategic way and paying my bills religiously for the first time in my life.

  • In this scenario the art market tends to treat the top-grossing artists, the most visible artists, as “smarter,” more “successful,” more “relevant,” and more “valuable” than their “dumber,” “lazier,” less “attuned” counterparts. This hierarchy creates divisions between artists who “make it,” and those who choose a different path and “fail.” That old adage of “those who can’t do, teach” comes from this kind of thinking. We know a number of artists who are always asking their friends, “When are you going to quit your job and be a real artist?” There is little room for diversity here in terms of what defines an artist. This conception of an art practice mirrors the corporate model of Capitalist production, where the most profitable company (artist) wins, no matter what its business practices are. Instead we should be paying attention to reworking the very idea of success in the art world. Artists should be choosing their own criteria for success, whether it is this kind of practice or one that fits the artist’s desires in different ways. This is one extreme model.

  • That was exactly what I thought when I lived there: I thought New York was the center of the universe and that I’d be moving away from that. I thought, “What am I doing? Am I going to ruin my career forever by moving away?” But that’s a very New York way of thinking. When you live there, it’s the center of the universe and everything revolves around being there. But once you leave—at least in my case—you realize that New York is an exciting place, but it’s not the exciting place. There is a lot of room in LA to make your own path and that’s the most exciting part to me.

  • However — and this is a big however — there is one circumstance in which I sincerely dislike being reminded that I look young. Incidentally, it’s also the place where I find it’s most frequently commented on: at work.

    For some reason, people at work always feel the need to comment on my appearance and how it relates to my age. This has happened to me at every job I have ever held. All of my jobs since graduation have been at middle or high schools, and I am constantly told, “Oh, you look like one of the kids!” I even once had a fellow teacher yell at me from behind, barking orders to get to class. It wasn’t until I turned around that she laughed and said (without any embarrassment), “Oh! You just looked like a student!”

    Any time I have to introduce myself to a group of new teachers (or parents), I brace myself for the comments. I know that when I say that I’ve been teaching for seven years, I will be met with surprised faces. I can anticipate the exact words I will hear in response: “Oh wow! Really? You just look so young!”

    Every. Single. Time.

    Some might ask, if it bothers me, why don’t I say something? And I do. But when I try to push back or express that I’m uncomfortable with someone’s comments, I always hear the same feedback. I am simply told that I should just take it as a compliment.

  • But, as is so often the case in Detroit, looking at economics never tells the whole story. The Heidelberg Project has been the site of unsolved arsons. Some residents in the neighborhood don’t want polka-dot-covered buildings and tourists, preferring, understandably, a normal neighborhood. The project is not even entirely legally condoned by city officials, who in the past even went so far as to bulldoze significant chunks.


    Can Artists Actually Do Anything to Help Detroit?

  • Artists are the only people who contribute new knowledge to the cultural realm. Others can refine, popularize, or synthesize our  research, but we discover new cultural  information.
    That is a sacred responsibility.
    We live in a time when we are inundated by images: pictures, language, videos, stories, music, bodies.
    99% of those images are made for one reason: to get you to buy something. We artists are responsible for that tiny sliver of images that can be made for every other possible reason: cultural, spiritual, political, emotional.
    In an age of image overload, this is a sacred responsibility.

  • You have to pat your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.

    Tiny Beautiful Things
  • Yes, guys like this pick on other men’s books too, and people of both genders pop up at events to hold forth on irrelevant things and conspiracy theories, but the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about. Some men.

  • Can you show me an example? Do you mean like this? Here’s what I started with, is this close? Am I doing a good job? What else can I do? The jobs and mentors I was lucky enough to get—most of those opportunities came because I reached out to ask smart people some questions I had (which is a lot better way to get a mentor than asking “Will you be my mentor?”) In all those cases, it’s the same thing. I’m asking. I’m learning. I’m checking in. I’m figuring it out. I’m zeroing in on the target. Because guessing and hoping and trying to get lucky are dumb.

  • Could artists’ websites disrupt or shape the contemporary image economy, the current state of visual culture on the internet which is defined by hypercirculation, over exposure and low attention spans? Right now, the conformity of artists’ websites is surprising considering the variety of artistic approaches, mediums, and styles in contemporary art. This is not reflected in artists’ websites: a small number of platforms such as Indexhibit and Cargo Collective are used by a large majority of artists when building their sites, responding to a checklist of unchanging components (CV, contact information, images). The consequence is that artists’ websites rarely do justice to their work.

  • Each person defines success differently. We already know this, but often artists measure themselves against someone else’s idea of success. When an artist determines their own definition of success they take ownership of that vision. They please themselves rather than trying to please everyone else. They release themselves from external pressures. Most importantly, they become accountable to themselves. They see success not so much as a blueprint to follow, or as a potential site for failure, but as a process, just like one’s art or creative practice.

  • I do not write memoirs. I do not write novels. I do not write short stories. I do not write plays. I do not write poems. I do not write mysteries. I do not write science fiction. I write fragments. I do not tell stories from things I’ve read or movies I’ve seen, I describe impressions, I make judgments. The modern man I sing. In one of my recurring nightmares, gravity is so heavy that the chubby pseudo-humans who wander the empty surface of the earth move in slow motion through an endless moonlit night. I have utterly lost touch with friends who were dear to me, without knowing why, I believe they don’t know why themselves.

  • Murakami once described running as “both exercise and a metaphor.” The real marathon is life. It’s the doing every day. Running doesn’t need to be justified or applied to some end. You run because keeping a healthy body and clear mind is part of your job as a human being. Because it’s a commitment you made to yourself that you’re obligated to keep no matter how tired, how busy or how burnt out you feel. In other words, it’s practice—proof of your ability—in always having a little bit extra in you.

  • Don’t let systems get in the way of just fucking working. This is controversial but I would say there is probably an inverse correlation between meticulously organized Evernote accounts and doing a lot of deep work. Over-organizing can be a kind of distraction.

  • But art is not education, even though the latter often tries to harness the former. The sciences want us to understand and shape the world, power structures tell us what we are supposed to think about the world, and art wants us to be awed and mystified by the world on the one hand, and to be critically aware of our assumptions about it on the other. In many ways, art seeks to compromise our understanding of the world. To understand, therefore, although endlessly evoked in museum education programmes and mission statements, is missing the point…This brings us back to the problem of understanding. In her famous 1964 essay ‘Against Interpretation’, Susan Sontag calls interpretation a hindrance and a nuisance, identifying the interpreter as someone who violates art by imposing an expectation of 'content’ and by making it something that is organised into a scheme of categories.2 For her, to interpret is the 'modern way of understanding something’ and vice-versa, 'to understand is to interpret’. In effect, her essay could well have been called 'Against Understanding’.[]

  • caitoppermann:

    A couple of months ago, I went to China to pursue some personal work. Vice published a selection of photos and a bit of what I had to say about why I went and what I found.

    More on my website HERE.