Inspiration Is NOT For Amateurs…

(Originally published 1/07/2013)

Let me explain this headline, a few days ago I stumbled about an interview with Chuck Close about Creativity.

What can I say, the interview is OK until that point where he states:
“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. “

Which is a risky statement in my opinion? I didn´t know chuck Close or his work up to that point, but when reading something like this, (and it is a very often cited-out-of-context-quote) I want to research why someone comes up with such a silly quote. Sorry, that´s my nature.

Barney Davey mentioned that the sentiment of that statement can be accepted as similar to a Woody Allen quote:”80% of success is showing up”. If he´d replace “Amateurs” with “Drama-queens” the statement would make more sense in terms of:”shut up and get to work…”

Viewing some of Close´s work, I really want to question why there is a reason to copy filtered portraitures that actually look Photoshopped instead of painted?

He is actually an example of artists that make something as a person and not through their art. Actually, they don´t need the art to shine, their story, their life and appearance is enough.

In the end it´s astounding, some obstacles like “Face blindness” and a kind of “Aspergers Disorder” probably explains why he paints like a Graphic-processor and why painting like Photoshop is art for him…from there I understand why someone comes to a conclusion like the above-mentioned statement.

Prosopagnosia is a dificult obstacle and I admire everyone who tries to overcome face blindness, but it might be an advice not only for Chuck Close but to any machine…err artists out there, that you can´t assume that everyone is like you.

I have made it my habbit to consume art to breakfast, like others read the newspaper. I don´t care what happens else in the world if it is important enough, others have a chance to inform me. Opposed to this slight lack of general news-input, I know quite a lot about who in the world is up to do this or that as long as it involves art or creativity.

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice “(Donny Miller).

The part of “getting to work” is absolutely different, I don´t need the inspiration to work, I also never had an artists block and I can also be creative – everywhere. Inspiration just fills up my cup with various relevant input from which my brain can chose variations and new patterns. The important part is to learn to see and to incorporate new seen things into the daily creation process.

In this regard it might be even true that Inspiration is NOT for beginners because only professional artists know when and where to take inspiration to move their work forward and when not. A beginner in any field of art does just copy from random sources they admire and don´t question whether if it is right or wrong.
(This is the way of any artist and it´s neither good nor bad, where you stay at decides if it´s good or a bad habit)

If someone so influential as HR Giger would say something like the above-cited quote, he´d be alright to do so, because he has developed a very own visual language and is one of the most influential (in terms of style) and copied artists in the known world. But he simply doesn´t.

Maybe my take on inspiration is also somewhat different as it also includes research. If it would be just the sentiment of the Woody Allen quote, I also wouldn´t mind. Even the quote from Picasso:” Good artists copy, great artists steal” doesn´t sound snobbish, in fact, it holds, even more, truth if you append that “Inspiration is NOT for amateurs.

Question things!

Only this way an artist can evolve. You can´t change from amateur to a top tier level artist if you don´t change. But be warned, inspiration and research can cause change!

Last but not least:

I don´t really know why the video from Viktor Koen ´s TEDx Talk is named similar to Chuck Close´s statement, because he doesn´t say anything like this, but instead he talks about his creative process.

This talk is surprisingly good (given the bad name) and interesting to note is that we both seem to have very much in common when it comes to “Staying Creative” on a daily basis.

Absolutely recommended watch if you are serious about being an artist yourself.



About the Author Oliver Wetter

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