Monday, 21 November 2016

Influence Map - Getting to the Truth

Top Left: Ronald Searle. Top Middle: Gerald Scarfe. Top Right: Harry Clarke. Bottom Left: Mary Blair. Bottom Middle: Chris Riddell. Bottom Right: Ralph Steadman.

I find it difficult to tell the truth. I've been suspicious of truth as a concept since childhood. People lie. That is a thing. But despite that sureness, I'm not really sure what's made me lie. I do fear being boring. I do carry shame that my truth isn't palatable. I do have self doubt, that is like a guilt. Why is my true more true than your true? Does stating it invalidate yours? The yarn tying atoms together will surely start to unravel if I in some way indicate I don't fully support what you're saying or even if I don't try to make you feel good about it? This aspect is complex, but coloured brown and it results in a shit-eating grin. None of that explains the fantasy that I sometimes tell myself, other people, and that I sometimes wear like I believe it to be true.

It affects my work. It affects my writing in ways that are clearer and easier to pinpoint and define. But this week I had a revelation. I think it's the nature of living in denial that there are moments when the cardboard and paste set piece that you're kneeling at will 
dissolve. The revelation was that a lot of the artwork I've been making is fake.

The above image shows an "influence map" I made and shared on Instagram. It's just a meme, but in thinking about the artists that have influenced me, I've gained another kind of revelation.

One of the defining moments of my life was a horrendous interview I had whilst trying to apply for an illustration degree course. There are so many layers to it's horrendousness, that I can't start to list them all. But I was told by a university professor in the interview that the influences I named were old hat and obvious, and I'd need to think about contemporary artists in order to be of any relevance. Whilst this is true in one way, on the other hand my inspirations are real and dear, and dismissing them is kind of ignorant and rude. Anyway, I was in a state of hyper sensitivity and I completely internalised that, and it lead to first a total abandonment of image making, and then me trying to disguise my work, trying to teach myself a style that wasn't mine naturally. It's been a long job, and a waste of my time.

I don't blame the professor at all. My sensitivity to critique was like a jangling open nerve at that time. I shouldn't have been there. What's interesting and mad is the power other people can be allowed to have in our lives.

Just now, I'm placing the power elsewhere. At source. With Ronald Searle, Gerald Scarfe, Harry Clarke, Mary Blair, Chris Riddell, Ralph Steadman. And with their guidance I'm looking for the
 surrealism, gothic horror, reality, fantasy, dream, shadow, magic, politics, and rock and roll that I can make. And I'm going to be using ink. And maybe if I follow that influence map, I can start getting to my truth.