I made art – am I an artist?

At Burning Man this year, someone asked me if I was an artist. It took me by surprise, the question. Then again, I’d just talked about something I’d made and called it art, so I guess it was just natural they should ask.

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Burn With Me.

I don’t feel like an artist, but I guess if I claim to have made art – and I do – it means I’m an artist. I don’t remember exactly what I answered, but it was probable something along the lines of “uhm, yeah, I guess…”

Being an artist seems to imply something more than just having made one piece of art.

That said, I’m happy to call myself a writer, even though I haven’t really published any stories. I write, so I’m a writer. I don’t regularly make art though – it kind of just happened.

Regardless of whether I’m an artist or not. I did something and called it art, and I’d like for people to see it.

The art piece I made is a book: a collection of Valentine’s Day cards and “words of affection.” You can read more about the book itself here.

It’s not “just” about the book though. Part of the art is people’s interactions with the book. The ones I brought to Burning Man all came with a pen attached to encourage people to write in them.

Most of the books I gave away to people I met, but some I left in places where people could encounter them on their own. One such place was Point Three at the Trash Fence, and you can see what people wrote in that book on this page.

I recovered one other book left in a public place, and I’ll be putting up the pages from that in the near future.

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I made art – am I an artist?

Burning Man Panoramas

More photos. This time the panorama pictures. The phone does a pretty decent job of it if I hold it reasonably steady and shoot things that don’t move too much. Night time pictures with lots of blinking lights don’t do too well – not that it keeps me from trying.

Burning Man Panoramas

Out of the fire

I went to Burning Man.

It was good.

As usual, it wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but that’s fine, it was still good.

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This time around I brought my own art project – a book I’d made. Originally, I’d just meant it as a gift for people I met who’d seem like they’d be the right kind of person for it, but it turned out to be more than that.

I met a few artists, talked to them, and offered them the book as a guest book for their art piece. This turned out really well, and lots of people left messages and notes in the books.

I also left one book at Point 3, which is the furthest point in the deep playa you can get to. This book I collected before leaving the event and within the next few days/weeks I’ll get around to scanning/photographing all of the pages and share them here on the blog.

The book is a deeply personal project for me, and it was very rewarding to see it fill up with words and comments from people who don’t know me and who don’t have any prior knowledge of what I’ve created. It felt good.

I’ll do it again.

I’ve already got a few ideas kicking around for a new book for next year’s burn, even though I’ve already decided not to go. I can’t afford to go every year, but I can still make a book and make it available to the people who do go.

Out of the fire