Conversations with Friends

When I started my art practice a few years ago, I was focused on making art. That’s it. Just making things and calling myself an artist, with the work to back it up. I didn’t think about the conversations I would have about what I made or that others would be inspired to make things on their own because I was plugging away at this thing every day. But both of those things have happened recently (more than once!) and I get super excited about both.

This is a conversation I had with Hannah this week via text, after I made a thing (below) and posted the pic online.


Hannah starts with: “Here’s my art question. Do you like it better when people tell you what they see in your art or do you like it better when people ask you what you were trying to convey? When you have the artist in front of you, what questions does an artist want to hear?”

The immediate thought that ran through my head: It is NEVER a bad time to ask me about my art. I am always gonna be giddy to talk about the thing I have made, am currently making, or dreaming of making next. I don’t know if that’s universal, but asking me about what I made is basically the equivalent of saying you like me, in giant, 12-foot tall neon letters.

My response to her: “I like both. I don’t know about everybody else (other artists) but I enjoy the conversation. What do you see? What did I mean? What did I mean THEN but what does it mean for me NOW? How did what you see make me go, ‘Hey, I’m not that smart but awesome that you see that.’ How does it make you feel? Does how I felt when I made it and how it makes you feel match at all? Is what I’m making conveying the feeling that I want it to?”

So in thinking about it some more, I said this about the altered book pages pictured above: “The thing I made today is about the intricacies of life and how it can be so bad but the structure of it all is reassuring and holds together at the same time. Articulating with words the emotions sometimes is stupid hard. Which is why it’s easier with paint for me. So what I just said about the thing I made today, no one would ever say out loud. It’s weird.”

Hannah responded: “It was such a good balance between hard and good and how hard and good go together.”

And then I was validated.

So what questions do you juggle when you are making art or looking at mine or other people’s art?