As I said in my last post here, I’ve been involved in conversations with Elena Thomas and Stuart Mayes about the virtues of long term blogging. Our responses to some self-initiated questions were collated and published online on the a-n platform last week. We had a lot to say between us and one of the questions that didn’t survive the editing was around the subject of the advantages of long term blogging over social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot.
Writing about my work alongside making it, is something I’ve done automatically over the years. No sooner had I started to make work, I started to write a blog – this blog! The two have always gone hand in hand for me and I’ve rarely made work without writing about it. More recently, I’ve wondered, if I had my time again, whether I might have done things differently – said less about the work I’d made, allowing an audience to make their own interpretation of it?
I used Twitter as a way of promoting my work and getting it ‘out there’ and then, when Instagram was introduced, used it as a means of presenting images. Words were less used when using social media and images of my work stood alone, with very little background attached.
It clearly has its place – Instagram is massively popular with artists and has become the main platform for showcasing work for many. But Instagram, as the name suggests, is about instant gratification – see it, clock it and move on. Twitter is similar – a bit more room for comments and interaction but in today’s ever changing, fast and furious pace of life, even short exchanges about the work are becoming more rare. There is no doubt that social media platforms have their merits, but for me, personally, I wonder how much I actually digest in the midst of such a fast-paced whirlwind of images? How much ‘stays’ with me – and how much satisfaction is gained from the images alone?
Some would argue that good art stands on it own – it doesn’t need the trappings of explanation behind it to make it worthwhile. There’s undoubtedly a lot of truth in this – quality will always out and exceptional work, always stand out. But what about the pleasure of actually engaging with art – properly engaging – and understanding at least a little about the concept behind it? For me, personally, it’s infinitely more interesting to know something about the artist themselves and the thinking behind the work they create.
Perhaps this is the reason I was drawn to blogging in the first place? Sharing my work with others feels important to me as an artist and regular blogging over a period of time has opened up opportunities for conversations and debate around my own and others’ work. It’s provided a source of dialogue and mutual support and has meant being a part of community in which it’s been possible to exchange ideas and share points of concern ranging from very real issues such as feeling stuck and unmotivated to a more mundane question such as which type of glue to use.
I’ve gathered a pretty intensive record of being a practising artist through maintaining a blog here and doing so over a sustained period of time has allowed room for reflection. It’s meant that patterns have emerged that would otherwise have been overlooked, enabling me to reflect on what’s important and to recognise recurring themes running through my practice. Information about the work, the thinking that went into it beforehand and some of the emotions that came out during the actual making of it – it’s all there. Aside from maintaining a day to day diary, I can’t think of a more thorough way of keeping an account of all the effort and energy – the highs and lows, failures and successes – that goes into being a practising artist.