Long and rambly, nothing to do with movie reviews or Japan (DisneySea blog post is taking longer than I expected because I have too many pics to sort through!). But everything to do with reflections of an artistically-inclined mind.
My favourite fashion bloggers once described the difference between two designers on Project Runway (season 5) as being a matter of an emotional approach and an intellectual approach. That prompted me to wonder what my own approach to art and design was. My conclusion is that mine is a largely emotional approach.
I like or dislike things based on my emotional impression. If I can care about a movie character, I would probably like the movie. If I dislike or just plain don’t care, then I can merely look at a movie from a more detached, “intellectual” perspective. I dislike surrealistic art because they tend to give off a gloomy, dispirited and dark feeling. I dislike dark “artsy” movies for the same reason. I like fantasy stories because they remove me from the real world and often have happy endings. (The likeable/sympathetic character thing also applies to books, not just movies.) I like J-pop music because although a lot of it is “bubblegum pop”, it also sounds happy and bouncy and merry. You get the idea. haha
The emotional approach doesn’t only manifest itself in my appreciation of artistic stuff. It comes out also in my work. I think I was never really suited for a life of designing stuff for clients – i.e. in a normal ad agency. In terms of artistic work, I think so far I have never been happier or more pleased with any project than I was with Joanne’s wedding. I didn’t get paid for it, but it was so satisfying and so much fun compared to anything else I can remember doing ever since graduating from MMU in 2007. I enjoyed the process, I enjoyed the concept, and I was only too thrilled to be a part of the whole thing. And I think that came out in the end product.
Thinking back to my eight-month stint at the ad agency, I have to say that that was a real miserable time (only thing more miserable was the 3 months prior to that working as part of an in-house design team for another company where just about everyone spoke Mandarin and the work was uninteresting and tacky). When I worked on projects I don’t really care about, there always came a point where I began to hate the project. And I mean really hate it. I’d get so sick of looking at the website/ad/whatever, and I simply wouldn’t care anymore. It’d become a matter of “Oh, Client X wants this added? It’ll be ugly, but ok. Customer is always right.” I’d be a design robot. Finishing a project was always a wonderful thing because I’d never have to look at it again. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what it’s like. To keep having to work on something you’ve come to hate, and have no choice about unless you quit your job. And it’s all very well to say, “Well, just quit!” but when one needs to earn money… it’s not that easy.
Anyway I’m out of that now and comparatively, teaching is heaven. For all the other stupidity that comes with having a board of the directors that doesn’t think of anything but money, at least there’s still the comfort of being at least somewhat useful to the students.
Hmmm. I suppose it’s not very nice to adopt that “whatever, even if it’s ugly, I’ll do it because the client wants it” attitude. I know that we should do our best no matter what, and do it as unto God, not man. But… what if our best is not what the client wants? What if what the client won’t let you be your best because what the client wants is actually your worst? (Or what you as the creator would consider your worst, anyway.) …gee, glad I’m not working in an agency anymore. I don’t want to be wrestling with that headache. haha
But getting back on track: the work I’ve done for clients has never been half as satisfactory to me as Joanne’s wedding invitation card design was. Or even as satisfactory as any personal projects (I suppose things like Project365 and the A-Z Blogging Challenge count). At least when I finish pictures or projects for myself, I’m satisfied and reasonably happy with the outcome as opposed to “OH THANK GOD IT’S OVER AND DONE WITH NOW. I NEVER HAVE TO SEE IT AGAIN.”
Some people can approach their design work more “rationally” or more “intellectually.” It’s not a bad thing either. In fact, they’re probably far better off than people like me who have a stronger emotional involvement/response.
Can one learn to approach artistic work “intellectually” when the natural inclination is to do it more “emotionally”? Yes, I think so. But would it drain the work of a certain sensibility? It might… I mean, pretty much every artist has a style that has evolved from a mixture of study and practice and personality. If you were to force one to work in the method opposed to his natural style, how would that affect the work? I can imagine that although the technique wouldn’t change, the emotion and the overall impression of the work would. Most designers are forced to adopt a more “intellectual” approach, I guess, since an “emotional” one wouldn’t work with clients constantly wanting silly things or wanting endless changes. But there’s always a difference in the way they talk about personal projects or projects that they’re really truly interested in (if you read their art blogs and such). For my own part, though I suppose I’ve learned to work with an “intellectual” approach, all that I’ve done with that method has never been even as close to half as satisfying as the work I’ve done on a purely “emotional” one. (I can’t completely suppress the emotional reactions, but I’ve figured out how to stuff them in the bottle that is my mind, and to just go on in the meantime – sometimes quite mechanically but, well, it gets the job done.)
… I don’t know what my point is here, but as it’s about time for me to leave the office, here’s where I stop. haha