You’re busy – I’m busy, but we’ve both made time for this conversation and no one’s economy of time is solvent enough to always select something over nothing.
So I was asked “how does one maintain an art practice when unreasonably busy?”
My reactionary answer is that one does not. Cannot. I cannot. But this isn’t necessarily true. My more measured answer is that one does not practice their craft in the same – or even similar –manner when working too much or even working too little.
This distinction seems obvious once articulated: if my pattern of behavior or my space is disturbed, then so will my patterns of behavior in entering into my imaginative spaces.
Though the constant I see in myself as well as in my busy maker-friends is that we select to make something over nothing more often than not; to make something of the ache of inwardness (?) of critical observation (?) of imaginative fits (?) of the simple need to be making (?) – this is what drove us into this situation in the first place.
Here is the oversimplification of the idea: I practice my craft when I’m too busy to practice my craft in the way I was, just a moment ago, because I want (need?) to.
Within this busy machine, the object of the craft or the manner of accessing it may be an oddity and the process will most certainly have an unusual pace, but it’s clearly better than the existential penalties of selecting nothing.
There are also novelties that will likely occur from both the artificial slowness of this time-restricted process as well as from the necessity to invent situational, compartmentalized methods to access the practice.
If we agree for the moment that – in any artistic endeavor – the process is the product, then we as makers would do well to not only pay attention to the specifics of our process as a matter of course, but also seek to disturb our habits of process to gain perspective on the objects we create.
In short: if you write the first draft of that 5,000 word piece of prose over the course of six weeks and in sessions of no more than thirty minutes – that product will be different in significant ways than if you wrote it over the course of two days at a frantic, obsessive pace.
The benefits of this imposed brake upon the process, for me, often results in new methods to access the specific work – mostly because I cheat this restrictive system. I will find ways to return to the work without falling behind in my other, time-consuming obligations. If I can’t steal a thirty minute writing session, I’ll do some light research into concepts or thematic elements I find the product preoccupied with while I eat lunch at my desk. Or I’ll view or take photographs of images that remind me of the world I’m building while I stand in line or move from one obligation to the next. I become obsessed with the craft object not by working on it tirelessly, but because my time economy forces me to move away from the work often and without enough time in-session to reach satisfaction.
I think I might produce matured products more efficiently when I’m too busy – which is the opposite of what the narrative on art practices suggests.
Thanks for your time and feel free to interrupt me if you’d like to continue this conversation.
Jake Henson received his MFA from Florida Atlantic University in 2011. His thesis is a multi-modal collection of fiction, creative nonfiction, & visual art. He has continued to work in and experiment with the combination of language with a variety of forms such as digital photography, stencil making, paper sculpture, artist books and screen printing –in an effort to access the reading experience with an authenticity of expression that resonates with audience. He is happy to be back with the FAU community and is always interested in collaborative projects.