Friday, November 23, 2012

Breaking Boundaries


On several occasions I have been asked to share my pet peeves when it comes to art and the art community. My answer is always the same: exclusivity and snobbery. I get my knickers in a twist whenever I am confronted by or hear a story about people in the art community who maintain that art and creativity belong only to a select group. A trained artist who denies the validity of those who are self taught. A fine artist looking down on a mixed media artist. A mixed media artist who dismisses a scrapbooker. And don't even get me started on the debate between art and craft.

It is my strong feeling that creativity belongs to everybody - at every skill level and in any domain. There are probably as many definitions of the word artist as there are artists in the world. I personally believe that anybody who feels comfortable with the term can rightfully call themselves an artist. And while I respect the fact that not everybody agrees with that...I don't have to like it. We are all so often confronted with judgmental and divisive attitudes in our lives and in the world. Why would anybody want to bring that into the world of creativity?

I have always tried to be inclusive in all the projects and collaborations I have developed. On my blog, well known career artists share space with hobbyists who may not yet have a following. And there are definitely times when I favor the work of the latter. It may be naive, but I believe that we can all learn from each other and benefit from the blend.


To that end, I am embarking on an adventure that I hope will shine a bit of light on this subject and perhaps even break down some boundaries. As of today, I am an official member of the Blog Team at Spellbinders Paper Arts. You can read their announcement here. Spellbinders is a company traditionally connected with the scrapbooking and card making communities. They are known for many products but perhaps are best known for their incredible and innovative die cutting and embossing machines and tools, items not traditionally used by many mixed media artists.

As part of my tenure on the Blog Team, beginning in January I will be creating and presenting a project using their products (along with many others) on my blog every Wednesday. It is my hope that I can introduce a host of new supplies, tools and techniques to my mixed media people that will serve to increase their arsenal. And it is equally my hope that perhaps a bit of my mixed media style will rub off on to the scrapbookers and card makers who can then add new techniques to their tool boxes as well.

Having had the pleasure of spending time with the Spellbinders team, I know the quality and creativity that comes along with all their ideas and products. They are truly a visionary company and I am thrilled to now be a part of their family. They had me at "you can make photo transfers with this machine." I am truly thrilled to get this party started and equally excited to have you join me on this adventure as we explore beyond.

59 comments:

Jacky said...

Looking forward to Wednesdays Seth...to your new adventure. You got me with that machine that does photo transfers too...cant wait to see/hear more about that.

Jacky xox

Sue said...

Good on you Seth! I've experienced that being looked down on feeling and it's not pleasant so good luck with trying to breakdown some of those barriers. Shall look forward to seeing your projects.

Caatje said...

Hear hear! I once worked as a media librarian in a school for visual arts. They did this project where the staff (mostly artists themselves) could decorate a tile. I so looked forward to participating, but was banned because I was not a 'real' artist. They hadn't even seen any of my work! I've always been allergic to the whole arrogant art scene.
Also I'm a mixed media person/art journaler who uses a lot of scrapbooking materials. I don't scrapbook by the way, at least not in the traditional sense, but the materials these people have access to is just mouthwateringly beautiful, so why not use it? Especially decorative papers can just make me swoon and I love mixing them with found materials and ephemera.
Thinking too much about what constitutes a 'real artist' can just give you headache and I'd rather be making stuff.

Erna Wade said...

That sounds truely exciting!

I also sometimes chuckle to myself at the unnecessary status difference that seems to exist between "intellectual" art and "commercial" art. :-)

Yes, there's an artist in every person! All you need is a real desire to create something and, of course, some meterials, which can range from what's at hand, to whatever can be gleaned from the many art & craft fields.

lyle baxter said...

I'm with you!who is so perfect that they dont need any tools to make their art work look more interesting. lokking forward to your Wednesdays!

Teresa Abajo said...

Wow! Seth Apter plus Spellbinders - this is going to be awesome! I can't wait to see what you do.

Astrid Maclean said...

I agree with every word you say and am truly excited that:
a) I "found" you through Spellbinders and
b) that you are going to be part of their "family". I am one of the 4 International spell bloggers that blog once a month on their site blog, and am truly excited that you have joined the team!!! I really look forward to seeing your makes on a Wednesday and shall now be off to explore the rest of your blog!

I am a teacher first children and now adults, and my whole life has been about unlocking people's creativity.....

elle said...

Excellent, Seth. You are so encouraging. I am trying to find my way and I have been wondering if a machine has a place. Thank you!

queenb2u said...

Yea, Seth. I agree with you. Everyone has creative potential. I, too, have been looked down on since I don't have "the" academic training in art. I'm not a scrapbooker, but I love using the tools out there for doing it. I love "junk", "good stuff", paper, and found objects. Can't wait to see what you create. Always great to learn about another creative community. And, always fun to share.

MrCachet said...

I'm in!

kecia said...

nicely said. this was a bit topic of conversation on FB the other day! my response is this: "just remember, if you are ever doubting your art. for every few people who it doesn't appeal too, there are just as many that it does". So sure, maybe the fine jewelry artist thinks my work is "crafty", but I still have a wonderful following and I will never allow her judgement to cast doubt on myself, my work, my art or my spirit!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Seth, I totally agree with your statements.. so glad you are brought them to the forefront for discussion.

bohemiannie! art said...

Congrats on your new gig Seth. Did you know my favorite Uncle's name is Seth? We always called him Uncle Boo. :) Anyway...I always consider it the highest compliment when someone tells me my art is child-like...or naive. :) Well said.

Cindy Alexander said...

Yay Seth! I am so excited for Wednesdays!! I know this partnership with Spellbinders is going to be an amazing adventure!!! Lets get this party started!! ��

Found art blog said...

Thank you VERY much!!! As much as I don't like what Tracy Emin and Damian Hirst does, that don't mean diddly sh*t to anyone other than myself, and that works equally as well the other way round!!! Change the names at will...!!

Leslie said...

Bravo, Seth! My studio is filled with materials purchased in the scrapbooking section. It would be difficult to know where to draw that line exactly.

I will also look forward to seeing your projects!

Dave said...

My, my, my. This is a new adventure!!! What fun!!! I am looking forward to see what you come up with...it should be great!!!

(Of course....everyone knows that photographers are the only true artists out there! Just kidding.....)

Gillian McMurray said...

I don't get the chance to drop by as often these days but when I saw the post was about Spellbinders I had to trot right along. Congratulations on this new side to using your talents. Can't wait to see what wonders you create.

Michele said...

Congratulations, Seth! Excellent blog post...you voiced what so many of us feel inside. I can't wait for Wednesday's on your blog - although I can't help but worry how your new partnering is going to affect my craft BUDGET. Spellbinders is such a great company and I have many of their dies....I'm sure I will be adding to the collection again and again. Thanks, pal ;)

rivergardenstudio said...

Seth, Congratulations on this new venture in this beautiful company. Spellbinders is so lucky to have you be a part of it's team!!
I will love seeing what you create with their products on Wednesdays, and I loved reading your heart-felt words about artists and artistry.
Your energy and passion are unstoppable!
roxanne

Angela said...

Welcome to the Spellbinders team, Seth! They're a fabulous company to work with!

Lisa said...

Congratulations Seth... Spellbinders is fortunate to have you as a team member and as in everything you do...I'm sure it will benefit all of your followers too!

Applause for your commentary...I've always admired your all inclusive attitude about art and creating...why must there always be boundaries and labels? I truly believe everyone has something to offer if given the opportunity to shine!

sf said...

You know how I feel luv! Yay & woo-hoo.

JoAnnA Pierotti said...

Wonderful news Seth! I think that is a perfect fit for you. Loved what you wrote about defining artists - as I've had my share of put downs in that department. I like what the author of book "The Artist Way" defines it as "Creatives". That is exactly what we all have in common, be it sewing, crafting, painting, cooking, etc.

World of Michael Trent said...

Congratulations Seth. It's not a union I ever imagined but I have a feeling you will knock their socks off (if they are wearing any). LOL. Cannot wait to see what you do with their products in your art!!

Barbara Mason said...

We have all had our put downs and I have found that using anything from any discipline in my works is what works and snobbery doesn't!!! Viva la diff! Interested in seeing what you come up with!

Judy Shea said...

Spellbinders is so fortunate that you joined their family. Congrats. I hear you on your "snobbery" comment. I feel it too and I've had discussions with others artists that feel the same, but the positive will out weigh the negative. When I met you at "Art is You".. I knew you were 100% authentic. .. and hello?.. transfers with the spellbinder machine? where do I sign up. Make that your first project, will ya?

Bill said...

You're wearing knickers? Didn't we just have a talk about this? :O) Oh well. I know you'll do Spellbinders proud!

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Carol said...

Congratulations, Seth, on a great new enterprise. We in the art community owe you so much already, so I'm looking forward to getting to know Spellbinders, through you.

Linda said...

Amen to that! I despise the whole "elitist" attitude toward art.

Reiko said...

Thank you for writing this great blogpost Seth! I agree with every word you wrote and you really made my day defining artists as you do!!
And congratulations for your collaboration with Spellbinders!!I will follow this new creative adventure with a great pleasure.

Jane Wetzel said...

Awesome news! THANK YOU for this post and all you have said...cant wait to see your creations...

Found art blog said...

I'll post here an email reply to Seth's comment on my earlier comment!! If the Tate Britain, London can hang a Tracy Emin work (if you don't know her, google the name) next to Constable and Turner, and still have the ticket sales & funding to stay open, then that just emphasises the point that there is space for all of us. Which is very comforting to know....!!

Eileen Bellomo said...

Well said, and I totally agree. I hope your alliance with Spellbinders will open some eyes; for me, you're preaching to the choir, but I sure do look forward to seeing how you incorporate their wonderful (yes, I have and use many of their dies) products in your art. If only the art snobs could leave their ivory towers long enough to look around, they would be amazed at what the artists I admire do with "craft" items like stamps, die cuts and stencils.

Mim said...

it sounds wonderful, something to look forward to

teri said...

So well and thoughtfully expressed, Seth. Creativity in any form is a gift to be treasured. I'm looking forward to seeing how you express yourself with the Spellbinder products.

Marit said...

Congrats Seth! Yes please... rattle and shake the 'restricted' groups and make all artists mix ;)

Darlene K Campbell said...

Ooh, yeah, I also want to know more about the photo transfer machine. Looking forward to new adventures on WEdnesday.

Bill, He has to say "knickers" because he's a gentleman of sorts.

Gina Sismilich said...

Whenever there is skill involved in an enterprise - there will be some who are "put down artists" When that happens to someone who bares his/her soul (an artist of any kind) it is especially painful. It will be awesome to watch your work with SpellBinders - I have many of their Nesties and I am no longer a card maker. I still use them in many projects.

dryadart said...

Congratulations. I believe creativity is the key element of humanity - no other species creates in the way we do - it is what makes us unique. Ive been rather longing for a graph plot paper cutter, oh well one day maybe - look forward to following this new avenue of creativity for you!

PattiSokol said...

I could not agree with you more- art is for everyone. I can't wait to see what ideas your bring with your new role!

Belle West said...

Love your post and agree with your 'peeve'. I see this a lot from photographers who think they possess some superior level of skill because they have a certain camera. Or a 'friend' who is afraid that everyone she meets is trying to 'steal' something from her. Fear and paranoia is crippling, while open arms encourage growth in us all...

A recent quote I found that speaks volumes:
"There's never a need to worry that someone will outshine us. It's not a competition. We all need to shine the brightest we can in our own unique way. It's not possible for there to be too much light in this world. Shine... and let shine."

Thank you so much and I will be following your blog and your new venture.

{Donna w/ Belle West}

improv cloth said...

Hi Seth,
What an interesting viewpoint. You have touched on a subject that comes up so frequently in the art world; snobbery. Trained vs. untrained, craft vs. art, etc. etc.
I think this culture of snobbery in art is why artists take to the streets! And rightfully so.
The way children learn, as they are natural artists, is completely without judgement. They simply explore and create. It's the self and public judgements in art, that squelches the creative flow that all people have.
Contemplating what you pointed out, reminds me to consider what's truly important.. Thanks!

gail said...

A wonderful post Seth and one I wholeheartedly agree with and as as self taught artist have felt for many years. I too have used a lot of scrapbook supplies in my mixed media work, including the spellbinders dies, and I don't do a bit of scrapbooking, but their supplies are yummy. I am now exploring supplies and techniques wiht farbic used by quiltmakers use and I don't do a bit of quilting either, but I love working with fabric. Looking forward to your creations. And good for Spellbinders!

Lin Collette said...

As a self-taught collage artist, I understand exactly what you're talking about. In Rhode Island, we're dominated by the shadow cast by the Rhode Island School of Design. If you're not a RISD alum there's a distinct chill in the air from a select group. Trying to break into the establishment here is difficult without that degree. I'm at the point where I'm learning not to care. But it's hard sometimes. Good luck with the new gig!

lin

Toni Baxter said...

Hi Seth---reading your blog I thought about all the ways the spellbinder's items can be used. Many, to say the least. Give thought when creating to how plaster and clay artists use their items. Please look at look at 2 that I have found fun. www.bozoart.blogspot.com and www.andyskinnercraft.com
Take care Seth.

Sara White said...

Amen and Yay for You!

Jen Crossley said...

Seth,
This has been a bug bear of mine for more years than I care to remember.I thank you for saying what alot of us think but never dare to say in case we are looked down upon or talked about. Well done Seth I so admire you
Jen xx

In the Light of the Moon said...

Hi Seth,my name is Cat and the powers that be have directed me to your blog today.Strangely,your name has come up three times today,...and I feel compelled to leave a comment.
I started as a scrapbooker almost 13 years ago and I must be totally honest that I never liked to mention it...Used to feel that it was not "Art-like"...Of course now,I'm thankful for it,for it started me on my path...but the funny thing is that every medium I have tried,including my first,paper,has made me into the artist I am today...and because of that I am forever thankful for every step of this creative journey.
I recently had the chance to also work with Spellbinders as part of the Ice Resin 2012 Creative team,and I couldn't help but laugh at how my art has come full circle.Using a die cutting system to make my mixed media jewelry was like comfort food for the soul.Back to my roots as it were.
Anyways,very nice to meet you,and I look forward to following your blog.
A huge Congrats on your new partnership and thank you for sharing.
Warmest Regards,Cat

suzieq23 said...

I have said many many times that since I have entered the artist family/world, whether it be scrapbooking, cardmaking, mixed media, etc. I have never met or conversed with anyone as nice, caring, thoughtful, and on and on,as those I have met in my journey into art. However, just today I have read two blog posts where just the opposite happened. Am I being too naive or have I just been "hangin" with the right people? I thought the art community all embraced each other? Now my bubble has burst!

The Backporch Artessa said...

Congrats Seth! I knew I liked you~ I feel exactly the same way. I think EVERYONE has something to contribute as a creative! Many many times I have learned something from watching an artist in my class who has little or no formal training attempt something new and out of their comfort zone. Almost always magic happens and we learn- we learn what we like, or we learn what we don't like. And this forms our future pieces! Hooray for embracing all aspects of creativity- and on a side note- I LOVE my spellbinders tools!

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Much interest in your upcoming Wednesday posts!
Whenever I hear someone defending art-for-all I think of the Bread & Puppet Manifesto... ;)

Karenliz said...

Congratulations! Im so excitsd for you and cant wait to see your inspiring creations. You are so right in your post. There is an artist in everyone. As I am trying to find my voice in art I have met many who feel they are the all knowing experts on who is a real artist. When I first came across my first so called expert it tore my heart out but now I hold my head up high and ask them to look up the definition of an artist and they will find that they are no longer an expert.

Dayna said...

Seth, you are definitely a unifier in the art world. You will be a great addition to the Spellbinders blog team.

Robert said...

Awesome, Seth! The Altered Page has always been about "inclusiveness," so this collaboration with Spellbinders just feels like the next logical step. Looking forward to Wednesdays!

Jo Murray said...

Congratulations on this new venture Seth...as if you don't have enough to do. Re art/craft: it's worth pondering that 'Art Galleries' showcase ancient pots and weavings etc. that were once simply cooking and storing implements. It seems that THOSE displays blur the perceived boundaries.

Sandy said...

Giving you a standing ovation for your thoughts on being an artist, my sentiments exactly! Congrats on the new venture. I love Spellbinders products, what a cool gig. While I am not a traditional scrapbooker I do use all sorts of scrapbook products in my mixed media art, I look forward to seeing the new and innovative ways you come up with to incorporate this media into your awesome work.

Parabolic Muse said...

Seth, you are a wonderful writer and your posts are a joy to read. Write many, many books.

Now. I know no one other than yourself will read this because I am SOOOO late catching up. But I have to say that this snobbery seems to be ingrained in human nature. We all try to make ourselves feel more secure by comparison with others and in order to do that, we criticise and belittle those things outside our ken. Some of us have struggled to fight against this and have won. I love being around people who are inclusive and confident and at peace. You are obviously one of those people.

It seems that in being educated in the classics, and in the 'masters', of any genre, many people have built up a wall against things that stray from those. But we are not all and should not all be Van Goghs, Rembrandts, Michelangelos, Mondrians. The scope and vision that has expanded over the decades beyond the purview of the vaunted masters is inestimable. It would be a crime to say that, to make just one example, Brian Detmer, is not an artist. In fact, sometimes I believe the word 'artist' is a trap. Is Detmer a craftsman? Where does Fairey 'fit in'? Could they not hold their own among the German Expressionists at a kaffe klatsch? I don't understand why the universal desire to create is not exuberantly celebrated by all, when the alternative is destruction. Or, passivity. If I spend hours of sweat and tears over a scrapbook, I have created something which did not previously exist, and which will give the ambitious among us a great source of joy, reflection, and perspective. Why is a scrapbooker not as revered as the sculptor? As long as each is reaching beyond her grasp to a work of excellence, then she is accomplished.

Thanks for this post. It is much needed. Post it again!