Questions for artists

As a prelude to writing up some more reflective notes from my meetings with Emma Smith and Erica Scourti. Here are some of the questions that I asked them. It makes apparent some of the things I am thinking about for my own work:

-How do you find and create opportunities for your work?

-How do you initiate, develop and structure projects?

-How do you think about the process of collaboration and find people to collaborate with? (existing contacts?, ‘types’ of people i.e. professional expertise, initiating relationships, managing expectations and keeping people informed, their authorship? What do they get out of it? payment?)

-What is your working relationship with collaborators and commissioners?

-How do you find funding for your work?

-Who do you think are your audience?

-How do you critically locate your practice?

-What is the legacy for your work after a particular event or commission has taken place?

-Does/How does one project lead to another?…how do you narrate your practice when you look back at past work, how do you imagine your practice looking into the future?


Exercises in style

Matthew Hearn asked me ‘why did you use that/those fonts?’

My answer would vary from project to project – I don’t know/I had to choose something/ it looked right/ I was mimicking the look of something else/ it was from the right time period/ I had the font already installed on my computer.

I am not a typographer or a designer but I often use language in text form in my work and I do struggle a bit to choose fonts for my work. In a similar vein, the question ‘Why did you use those colours?’ might also be pertinent. I find it easiest to decide when my work is mimicking something else, such as public signage. Then I can just copy that look (although proper typographers might berate my lack of precision). When I did a project in an historic country house I chose fonts that were relevant to key periods in that house’s history. At other times I have used fonts where the look and spacing of the lettering just seems to ‘fit’ with the content of the work. Sometimes I want the words to be very visual, sometimes I want them to almost be invisible and for the content to be more important.

But a slightly scattergun and making-it-up as I go along approach has led to my portfolio looking rather haphazard with different appearances. Does it matter? Do I mind? Thinking of artists like
Lawrence Weiner or Kay Rosen, they have a very identifiable ‘look’ for their work. I am not sure that this is what I am after, but does there need to be a consistent thread?

The same sort of variation occurs in the type of language I use. Sometimes long, narrative, sometimes short and playing with words. The ‘voice’ of the text varies from project to project and depending on the context of each. Sometimes this is particular or quite considered, sometimes this is just because it feels right or I need to choose something. Matthew suggested that I read ‘Exercises in Style’ a book by Raymond Queneau where the same story is told in multiple different ways. I have a copy on order!