Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Document Document Document

When I was in grad school my fiber professor's mantra was Sample Sample Sample.  My mantra today is Document Document Document.  In a post two weeks ago I described some of the non-studio work involved in pulling together a body of work for a show:  making labels for each piece, compiling a checklist of the details about each work, maintaining a personal inventory of the work, yada yada yada.  It can seem--and is, sometimes--overwhelming.  And boring!  We'd all rather be in the studio.

If you're not in the business of entering shows or putting on exhibits, you may think none of this applies to you.  But . . . not so fast.  I think it's a useful practice for all of us in the making biz, whether we think of ourselves as professional artists or not.

You've heard of Swedish death cleaning, right?  The idea that by organizing your things in advance of your own passing, you are doing a giant favor to those who come after you, your heirs. (Or even yourself, the next time you have to move house.  Just sayin'.)  It's good if you, or they, don't have to guess, Who made this?  When?  What IS this?  Having that info on a label on the piece, and/or an inventory sheet, can simplify matters.  It's also good to have those records in case, God forbid, your work is damaged in a fire or flood and your insurance company wants documentation of what was lost.

Label for Red Letter Day tapestry
I suspect many of us drag our feet on this kind of thing because deep down, we don't think our work is worth this kind of care and time.  For us, it's all about enjoying the process of making, and we shy away from treating our work as if it's anything special.  I would argue, if it was worth spending the time to make it, it's worth spending an extra fifteen minutes making a label, a photo, and a written record somewhere.

Portion of Inventory Record for Red Letter Day tapestry

If you are serious about getting your work out there, then this kind of documentation is absolutely essential.  You want to have files of images and the relevant factual details at your fingertips, all in one file on your computer desktop, ready to respond to calls for entry and other opportunities.

Now . . . go make something!  And write it down. 

And now I'm getting off this particular hobbyhorse!