Monday, October 10, 2011

WtMoM: Makers and Artistic Integrity

What to Make of Making

The Laws of Making remind us would-be creators that our work has significance and consequences.

We don't make in a vacuum.

That means we have a responsibility, both for what we make and to the people for whom we make. Frugality, as I once heard it defined, is not about being cheap, it's about using our resources well.

Simon Pulman, writing about The Artist’s Responsibility on the Transmythology blog said:
"So I’m going to suggest the following: artists have a responsibility to each other.  A responsibility not to upload, share or publish work that is substandard, lazy, unchecked, unplanned, or (overly) derivative – lest you take away time and attention from somebody who has really put their heart and soul into their work."
Integrity means complete, whole.

In Star Trek (and other assorted space operas), hull integrity is one of critical factors in surviving a fight. If the hull loses integrity, it is no longer complete or whole. In other words, it no longer protects you from the hazards of space and you will likely be dead real soon.

The Laws of Making point the way to achieving integrity, both in your work and as a maker. Users knock something off, striving for minimum effort, and throw it out there as quickly as possible to get what they can out of it. Makers, out of respect for the resources and the audience's time, strive for integrity because they don't want to waste either.

Pulman says, "... artists have a responsibility not to ... [s]ubmit anything that has not been thought through and executed, to the best of your ability." He adds an important qualification:
"To be clear, I am not asking for perfection.  Nor am I suggesting that artists should not share work that is not “conventional” – God knows we need people to push the boundaries, merge media platforms and try new things.  If something is unpolished, because the artist does not have the resources to execute the project on a technical level – and is perhaps soliciting outside help and collaboration to improve it – I fully applaud that.  We’re all learning and improving.  What I am really asking for is thought, care, and love.  Really work on your idea and wait to upload until that idea is the best it can be and your work – even if it’s not the best work you are capable of – at least reflects the potential of your idea.  If you don’t, you are not only cheating yourself – you are cheating other artists.  So, the question I want artists to ask themselves honestly is: Is this work the best – or close to the best – that I am capable of at this stage in my artistic development, with the resources that I currently have at my disposal?"

Image: Bill Longshaw /

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