How often do you make something that surprises you?
As the great photographer Jerry Uelsmann once said, and I paraphrase – if he has any goal, it is to surprise himself.
I think that is one of the most profound statements an artist can adopt. It is so difficult to surprise ourselves. After all, we are ourselves. To do something so out of our usual comfort zone that even we are surprised by what we do or the outcome of what we do is my mission.
I found that recently I wasn’t very surprised by myself. And by recently, I mean the past handful of years. I took risks, but they were calculated. I took risks that weren’t really all that dangerous. So, were they risks at all if I have to categorize them as baby risks? Probably not.
When I started photography I would have done anything – misshapen bodies, weird contortions, grotesque imagery. I think that as my taste for imagery grew, so did my images. But, they became more normal.
I’m beginning to shed that.
I’m beginning to stand out.
I’m doing it in small steps. I’m working my way back to the macabre. But I’m going there, little by little, day by day.
(Well, not my spine. My elk spine.)
Essentially, it comes down to this. I want to be willing to look into a strangers eyes and not break eye contact. I want to be able to stand proudly with my art, as dark as it may be or become, and be willing to stand by it. I want to represent my art by not backing down, but presenting my vision and not caring if it is weird or makes me an outsider.
I’m working on it.
How often do you create something that surprises you?