Thursday, August 16, 2012

Money Does Not Equal Creativity

When you think about people's  early films...there's a certain zest to them at that point and I think part of the reason is it really is important to have to deal with compromises in creativity. When you have every resource available to you, it often means that all you do is follow your first path, the first thing you thought of and you lose the magic of discovery.

Here's a good example - I was in a Kamikaze show, which you can read about in this previous post - and I knew I really wanted to do something different, still tied to who I am and what I do, but with a different quality. I wasn't quite sure what that was, but I knew it was out there somewhere. I also knew I didn't want it to be about a traditional approach to photography, where you take the image and then you put it in a frame...I didn't want it to go there. 

I've always loved handmade papers and I think a good technique when working creatively is to drift towards the things that inspire you.  With paper, I love the tactile quality of it...especially handmade paper - I love the irregularity of it. I'm still amazed that we live like Pharaohs...think about how hard it was for the average person to be able to record their thoughts or create something on paper...anyway...I digress. 

As I said, I had this idea...I really wanted the image to almost come "through" the paper...I was thinking it should be very light and so I tried some great handmade paper that I'd had for ages, found an image and ran it through. Initially it wasn't impressive - but then I saw it back lit, with the light coming through it ... it was just astounding. "OMG this is what I'm going to do, I'm going to do these images and then I'm going to put them on light boxes." Then I thought "OMG, where am I going to get a bunch of light boxes? I called around to see if I could rent them easily - I didn't want to spend a ton of money. The show needed to be a creative endeavour, I didn't want it to be about "Oh, let's drop another grand." 

So...I kept working and eventually moved into a different kind of image. I've always loved the way a bed looks in the morning, before it gets made, where it has that imprint of what happened that night. Loved the abstract quality of it as's just sort of this shining thing. I thought, "okay great, I'll photograph that and just print it really light as if the light was coming through it." So I did a couple of those...and it just didn't move me either. Finally, taking some of my own advice, I thought well, what if instead of making it very light, I make it very dark, I just sink it into the paper instead of wanting it to lift out of the paper. I did the first print...and it was love instantaneously. 

I'm really happy with my new direction and you know, if I had unlimited funds...I would have just sent some of "daddy's money" over to make light boxes. That's why I think it's important to have restrictions. They make us more creative...they make us come up with more solutions. You don't find salvation through a new lens, computer...whatever, you find it in the everyday struggle to deal with the realities life sends us.

One of my happiest re-discoveries in this process was the paper shop McManus & Morgan Paper. It's located over by McArthur Park in LA.  Gary Wolin is the owner and here's a great video, Ink&Paper, about his business and the Aardvark Letterpress next door - which is the last letterpress printer in LA.

ink&paper from Ben Proudfoot on Vimeo.

No comments:

Post a Comment