Every profession has its heroes, and every individual in a profession has people they take inspiration from. This is particularly important in ‘creative’ industries, though you’ll see it happening across the board. The more aware you are of your preferences and role models the easier it’ll be to climb out of a slump when you need to. Since I’m just starting to explore this myself, over the next few months we’ll be having a look at three artists whose work really resonates with me. We’ll also look at how you can utilise your own heroes to launch yourself further towards your goals.
Introducing the Creator of Glass Forests
Dale Chihuly’s art takes the form of beautiful glass sculptures and installations, each exploring colour and form in new and natural ways. He was one of the first glass-blowers to take the step from solitary work to building teams in order to create something larger and more intricate.
After studying architecture, he became fascinated with blown glass in the early to mid 1960s and has been furthering the craft/artform ever since with his installations, research, and innovations. A lot of his influences come from his past; his mother’s gardens in Tacoma, his childhood, and his love of the sea.
When he first started out there was a huge amount of respect for his medium, which enabled him to learn from established professionals and study in the first hot glass program in the US (University of Wisconsin).
The reason I find Chihuly’s work so interesting has a lot to do with my obsession with colour and contrast; through his experiments with glass he’s discovered new ways to tie his art into his environment. Man made and natural. Also he plays with light and dark a lot, especially in his later pieces (the Black Series in particular deals with setting the scene with darkness to show off the brighter colours and light).
Added to that is the fact that, as a person, he’s pushing the boundaries of what’s ‘acceptable’ and ‘normal’ all the time. Through building such strong teams and creating such large pieces in glass he’s challenging the old stereotypes surrounding his medium. Once thought of as a solitary craft, he’s shown us that it can be a collaborative art. He’s doing what he loves because he loves it without worrying what anyone else will think.
How does this help?
I’m not a glass-blower. I do like to create, and contrasts in life, emotion, what we see, what we hear, and so on… Delight me. I also like to be reminded that creating doesn’t have to be a solitary act.
Therefore summing up Dale Chihuly’s influence on me isn’t difficult. By looking at his work I can see how someone else has tackled contrast in a literal sense, and from that I can start to notice subtler distinctions in my own work. Having recognised that it’s such a huge theme for me, I’m now a lot happier to explore the bounds of that theme (and ignore them entirely when I choose).
Most important of all (perhaps) is seeing someone succeed at creating/working on something they love.
Who wouldn’t want that for themselves?
Take a look at your heroes; Who are you drawn to? What do you like? When I first did this exercise every artist I was fond of happened to be a digital fantasy artist. Looking through them I eventually realised that they all had certain themes and focuses in common… one of those is contrast.
After identifying that I looked for artists in different areas using those themes. Dale Chihuly was one of the first I came across and fell in love with (artwork, come on people). Now I like the ‘new’ artists I found more than the older ones!
Give it a go, you might be surprised what you learn (I sure was). Oh, and comment here too – who do you look up to in your field and why?