Creative Director at W+K, Artist, Thinker
The Art that I’ve made—well, I enjoy getting lost in it. It is relaxing and it takes you away. One of my favorite art teachers in school took us out of the studio, outside to play tag. This was in college and I hadn’t played tag in years. We had the best time. We were kind of wondering why we were playing tag during art class. Afterwards, we were exhausted and our teacher, she said “You know that feeling you get when you are playing tag? You completely forget everything and you are only focused on that. That is the way you should feel when you make art.”
I got in trouble with my camera one time, it jammed on me. I called the guy who sold me the camera. He was in Holland and I was here in Portland. The camera is a Leica M6 and it jammed. I couldn’t get it to work, so I called the guy and I said “Is there some special trick?” And he said, “No that’s unusual. What were you doing?” I said, “ I was shooting pictures really quickly.” He said, “You were shooting quickly? C’mon, you were shooting too fast. That camera is for someone who looks and thinks. Its not a digital camera.” That was a huge lesson. Sometimes you do get excited about what you are doing, but its good to breathe, as well, when you are doing it.
There should be no difference (between personal and commercial creativity). In the professional world you are working with other people but if the work you’re making doesn’t have yourself in it, it is of little consequence and it won’t be any good.
If you are just doing what people tell you to do, it’s not going to be good anyway.
There is the madness of popular creativity. You can react to it. You can make fun of it in some regard or be curious about. I think a lot of artists become curious by what the vernacular is. Like, how are you supposed to take a photograph? We are taught very young what that means, because we are told to pose for a photograph. We know how a photograph is supposed to be taken. You are supposed to look at the camera and you are supposed to sit a certain way or turn a certain way and you’re suppose to smile. You learn the vernacular so it is up to creative people or artists to work with that vernacular to change it, go against it, react to it. You can also be curious by what you find. I think if you went through everyone in this room’s albums, you could find that they are incredibly similar. I think it takes an artist to come up with concepts like that and celebrate the connection.
If you study the history of art, if you are aware of what has gone before and what is happening now, you are in touch with human history. There is no better survey of accomplishment, strife, birth and re-birth, death, destruction, religion, politics, history than to study the history of art.
You will make a lot of friends (when you study art), because you will know these artists, you will know these paintings, you will know these sculptures, these works of art and wherever you go in the world you can stop in and say hello to them. Like if you are in London, you can stop in and say hello to Rubens or Gainsborough or Mr. Norman Foster, Francis Bacon. If you are in Spain you can visit Goya. And they give you strength. I think that is the most exhilarating thing. You can’t really put your finger, exactly, on what each thing means, it just does. There is something special about it. I think that is why we as a society build museums, because there is something special about it that is vital to who we are.
And it constantly changes. It inspires you in your daily life. It’s why you need poetry. Sometimes, you need things in your life that don’t make sense, they just make you feel a certain way. There is no qualifying it. There is no top 40 radio station that will give that to you.