Original creation: what’s all that about, eh?

Long time no post. Oh well. You know how I am.

This post, I’ve got a question for all you creatives:-
Does anyone else have trouble actually creating something entirely from scratch, from start to finish? I’m not sure how to explain myself without examples so here’s what got me thinking…

When I was an art student I used to get a lot of my materials out of skips. I like to paint on board but when I went to the wood workshop and cut and sanded and prepared a board to paint on I felt the board was more of an object in it’s own right and the painting was less an image in it’s own right, more a layer of oil paint on this bit of wood I’d manipulated. So my solution was to paint on found objects, table tops, cupboard doors. Those awful cheapo shop-bought pre-stretched canvases that used to horrify my tutors. Making a frame, stretching and sizing and priming a canvas felt like craft to me, it felt like I’d created an canvas and wood sculpture to paint on and to me that distracted from the creation of a 2D image.  I always struggled to explain this to my tutors, I still don’t quite understand why I can’t separate the image and the support in my mind.

And then I got into sculpting and I’m doing the same thing – I have to use found objects to offset the act of creation. I buy clay and epoxy putty and primer and all that stuff you’re supposed to use for raw creation. Then I create a framework from tinfoil and twigs, batteries, bits of plastic bag or bottle and usually tons of masking tape. I cannibalise bits of old pottery. If I made something completely from ‘proper’ raw materials and it was all my own original creation I wouldn’t feel it was mine, somehow.

Believe it or not,  I’m usually quite introspective and I try to analyse my motivations. But I’m coming up blank when it comes to my compulsion to never quite make something from raw materials. I have this need to avoid total autonomy and build my objects from readymade stuff hanging around.

As a confusing addendum, I’d like to add that although I’m repelled by working entirely from raw materials I also have an aversion to using visual references. I’ve spent all my drawing life trying to avoid inspiration from external sources. If I get stuck, I have to work it out in my mind rather than hit up google images. Not that I’d negatively judge someone who has another approach, it’s not a moral judgement or anything. It’s just a personal compulsion.

And in the end – it doesnt matter. I’m going to keep making stuff and we all have our own way of working. I’m just a bit preoccupied by the fact I can’t understand why I feel I have to work this way.

Any insights and comments are much appreciated. :)

Anyway, just to prove my near-crippling creative neuroses don’t always prevent me from making art, here’s a rough little sample of something I’m working on.

work in progress

work in progress


Hmm, I seem to have dropped off the face of the internet again. Sorry about that. Um.
I don’t have any art to share today but I do have my new app. It’s a random story prompt generator, for inspiration but mostly just for fun. There’s a web version and a free android version. So check it out. 
the random story generatorI’m always looking for feedback and bug reports and suggestions. :)

New works

I’m working on a series of playing card illustrations. They’re all available to buy as prints over at my society6 shop.

Queen of Carbon playing card illustrationI think I started these because I was taking an interest in symbols and graphic motifs. I decided to make up my own suits – brains, wings, carbon and scissors so I wouldn’t be bound to all the existing symbolism and associations that come with the usual suits of hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. There are plenty of associations and meanings to be found in my cards, I’m not going to specify what they mean to me – I’ll let the viewer speculate on that or bring their own narrative. Or just appreciate them as figurative illustrations. I had an idea of the overall aesthetic I wanted, but of course it evolved as I started painting figures and collecting more symbols and inspirations. As a project it’s quite open-ended. I don’t have to stop with just four suits or one version of each card if I get inspired to do more in future.

Society6 round up

I’ve been quiet because I’m busy working on some new pics. Should have something to show soon (I know, try to contain you excitement). I’m thinking of making an effort to get back into tumblr – can anyone suggest any good tumblr blogs to follow? I’m such a curmudgeon about microblogging and social media but since pinterest actually managed to win me over and all my fandom folks seem to be having a big tumblr party I think I can just about manage to update one more blog.

But getting back on topic: I’ve discovered some really cool art via Society6.com. I’ve even had some of my work picked to appear in the main shop, which is always nice. I’ve seen the prints and tshirts they produce and I can vouch for the quality, too. Anyway…I just wanted to share some works I like, no doubt I’ll be making more soc6 posts in the future. As ususal, click on the pictures to visit that artist’s shop. Enjoy.

Illustration by boneface, guy in a leather jacket and vampire mask.

Dance Party Massacre by Boneface

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This is your brain on white cubes

Ulrich Kirk, a neuroscientist at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, is also interested in artworks’ contexts. Would a viewer respond the same way to a masterpiece enshrined in the Louvre if he beheld the same work displayed in a less exalted setting, such as a garage sale? In one experiment, Kirk showed subjects a series of images – some, he explained, were fine artwork; others were created by Photoshop. In reality, none were Photoshop-generated; Kirk found that different areas of viewers’ brains fired up when he declared an image to be “art.”


This is what we’re up against guys. Why even bother making art when most people apparently care more about the work’s percieved cachet and status than what it has to tell them? Booo.