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Re: [BKARTS] craft standards, poor books

I have to agree (and disagree) a bit with Richard.

I don't consider the "first draft" to be "ART", capital letters, quotes, etc. It is part of a process, however, much like the artist's sketchbook has always been. Rarely do those rough pages of the sketch book rise to ART, but they are definitely part of the process of it. The concept may be art (or artful), but the road to realization will probably be littered with a a lot of non-ART.

Sometimes these preliminary jottings are as interesting as the artwork they lead to, since they document the pathways the artist followed. I've seen several exhibitions of' sketchbooks, some of them also including work that grew from the page doodlings. Those exhibitions were memorable ones. Often the artists were pretty much local and unknown; I suppose family had preserved the sketch books, or they had some local historical interest. Only two of the shows exhibited work from "real" artists.

The "first draft" isn't a waste of time, it's a necessary step along the way to realizing the finished work. Often, however, it gets trashed, shredded, or used to start the kitchen fire, once the work itself is completed. Very few artists will reach a point where their work will be interesting enough to find a place in an historical or research collection.

The achievement of Craftsmanship is a long and slow path, and I'm thinking that as soon as one is convinced that the goal is reached, there may begin a slow decline in standard. A really good craftsman, whose work reaches a high standard, is always seeking to better the last. Having said that, I will admit that I don't expend a lot of energy on "perfection", preferring to look for what is right for what I am doing and concentrating on "doing the best I can". Once I reach the point where the work seems done, I don't try to do more. The next project starts the process over again. I am watching my betters, but still "doing the best I can", always learning. More fun and less neurotic that way.

This is an interesting thread.

Carol Pratt

On Jan 2, 2008, at 4:08 PM, Tony Kranz wrote:

First let me say that I have a great deal of admiration for all the list members that can bind and rebind and print with a remarkable degree of perfection. Alas, one of them, I am not.

So I am working on getting over my shortcomings as a craftsman and instead trying to focus on my art, which I make using words and images, usually on a fiber medium. It can start out a bit ugly, but usually I refine my first try and feel better at the end. But is the first draft art too? I can relate to the conundrum Charles has described so well in this post.

I have learned a lot about the craft of making books since joining the Book-Arts list. But I've always been more interested in the discussions about the book as art. And there have been some good ones.


On Jan 2, 2008, at 4:29 PM, Richard Minsky wrote:
Tony wrote:
> is the first draft art too?

It'a all process. If there is the germ of a new idea in the first draft, it may well be art. Sketches and drawings may lead to an oil painting, and you see them together in some museum shows.

That doesn't mean you necessarily want to exhibit an unclarified concept, or that anyone would want to buy it. But save it. The Yale Arts of the Book Collection now has my maquettes, drafts, and other process materials for many of my works. Let the future generations decide what is art for them, or if it's research material, or if process IS art, or whatever.


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