Illustration: The work of the 24 artists featured in Inspirational issues 1/2/3
Since starting the Inspirational project last year, I have been lucky enough to connect with twenty four artists that have been featured in three issues. That is pretty good going in its own right, but what has intrigued me most, and has caused me to celebrate the fact in this article, is the number of artists who have taken it upon themselves to expand their creativity beyond the limits of their own discipline, which would be the one they studied for, or started in.
In so many cases I have come across artists that have made decisions to move their work forward by incorporating different disciplines into their work method. This could be anything, depending on the main focus of the artist, but often includes photography, ceramics, fine art painting, print, natural dyeing, the list is a long and varied one, sometimes surprisingly so.
There is also an interesting enthusiasm for using a wider range of raw materials, including the recycled and the thrown away, the natural, the manipulated, and the engineered. Many of these materials are not sympathetic, or expected, they are rarely the norm for the disciplines of the artists, yet the artist still feels a strong call to expand their world of creativity. Why?
A lot can be said for the work of those artists who have taken to teaching their skills and their mindset to others. There are many artists who now teach for segments of the year, not only practical skills, but teaching of the natural expansion of creativity into other areas of work, and how that can help to enrich perspective, and the road to artistic individualism.
Another influence has to be the growth of the internet. The net is barely into its third decade, google wasn't founded until 1997, facebook in 2004, pinterest in 2010, but already it has had an enormous influence on the amount of information that each individual has at their fingertips. The creative artist is particularly well suited to this phenomenon as much of the internet today is visual in nature. Never before have we been able to see so much artwork in one place at one time.
The increased interconnectedness of the net allows us to share, discuss, praise, support, and celebrate individual artists, as well as the community in general. It allows us to highlight work, to cross-over work, to connect between, over, and through disciplines. It allows us to become familiar with artists that use the term multi-discipline as a true moniker, rather than someone who 'didn't quite fit'. Multi-disciplined artists are quickly becoming the norm, and for that we should certainly celebrate.
There is also a general feeling, particularly amongst, but not exclusive to younger artists, that it really doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter what you call yourself, or what others call you. It doesn't matter if you use textiles, ceramics, glass, metal, wood, stone, or if you use all of them at once. That to me is a particularly healthy place to be, healthier still is that no one seems to care much what the purity discipline experts have to say any more.
Creativity should never be about purity, never about historical accuracy, and certainly never about non-contamination with other disciplines. No discipline should ever have to have walls put up around it to protect it from the contemporary world, do that and a discipline becomes an historical enactment and nothing more.
To me, all disciplines should be coaxed into areas that are unusual for them, perhaps even uncomfortable for them. A creative artists life is about the excitement of exploration, of cross-pollination, of what can be done with their own perspective on the world of creativity, regardless of the rules. That is all anyone can ask for and all anyone should expect, and I for one am celebrating that fact. Happy mixing everyone!