Copyright K. Skiles  2013  All Rights Reserved

Copyright K. Skiles 2013 All Rights Reserved

How do you talk about your artistic process? Being able to is an important part of showing that your work is handcrafted, showing what goes in to making it. (I talk about why you should do that in this post.) I’ve been noticing lately which artists are doing a great job of sharing their creative processes.

One of those artists is, as always, Kirsten Skiles, whose photo mosaic you see above. Click through to read more about her process:

She’s shown us the whole creative process, from start to finish. And she’s done this with a baby! If you’re a regular blog reader of hers, you also know she’s drawing regularly and maybe drew this design first. (Here’s another great post from Kirsten, showing how she does repoussé to make shamrocks.)

Chicago Faces Series, Copyright 2013 Hannah Ferhman All Rights Reserved

Chicago Faces Series, Copyright 2013 Hannah Ferhman All Rights Reserved

Another artist who does a really terrific job of sharing her creative process is photographer Hannah Fehrman, who sends out a monthly newsletter called 5 x 7 with 5 images on the 7th of every month.

Here’s a recent issue, that you can see online: 5 x 7, January 2013.

She picks out some favorites from the month and tells us the story behind each photo. Not only is this interesting, but it shows that she’s a busy and successful photographer and success attracts success, and more business.

(Here’s a post from Alyson Stanfield on why artists should publish a newsletter.)

Why should you do this? Why share your creative process? And is there a downside?

Here’s the part I struggle with: documenting my creative process as it happens, takes me out of the moment and interferes with the very thing I’m trying to achieve!

Back in junior high school, I was a subscriber to Writers Digest Magazine. (Yes, really.) And I remember an article that said,

“Don’t talk about it. Don’t talk about the book or story or article you’re writing, because that dissipates the energy of the project. Take that energy and put it in the writing.”

I remembered that (thank you, article writer from long ago) and apply that to my art. I’m very much an after the fact blogger. “Here’s what I made yesterday,” not, “here’s what I’m making right now.”

So if you’re hesitant, I’m with you, but I still hold that you can find a way to blog your process that works for you.

The benefits to you are huge. In addition to getting your message out, blogging about your creative process turns out to usually be a form of reflection. And reflection is really helpful to our creative process itself. It helps us make new art, figure out why we’re making what we’re making and what it all means.

Blogging about a couch thrown away in a dumpster evolved into my artist statement! Really! (Here’s that post.) As weird as that is, the regular practice of blogging, of thinking, reflecting and sharing (after all, I have regular readers, I can’t let you down), led to that post about the couch in the dumpster, called, “Not Inspired by Nature.” That really got me thinking and I sat down and turned that into my artist statement.

Another benefit to blogging is that you build your blog over time. It’s easy on a weekly basis, and then suddenly you look back and you have years worth of insights, photos, finished works, all neatly organized.

It doesn’t have to be blogging, a regular practice of journaling or drawing can serve the same purpose. The benefit of blogging is that there’s this potential for readers! It’s sharing, there’s accountability. It’s more public. So much of art making is private and solitary, if there’s a part of it that we can share, besides the finished product, that’s a wonderful opportunity.

Need more inspiration? Check out crafty blogger Lisa Polderman of PoldaPop Designs at her blog. She does a terrific job, with lots and lots of photos to show her works in progress, her struggles, her successes and dreams.

Want one more good reason to blog your creative process? As a hedge against unauthorized online sharing. At a recent Chicago Artists Coalition event, photographer Jessica Pierotti pointed out that more and more artists are blogging their process more than their finished product, to prevent unauthorized grabbing of images. If you don’t post the images, they can’t be taken. That brings up a bunch more issues, so we’ll tackle that in another blog post.
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