Start Seeing Art

John Alspach of Shiny Robot and Rosalux helps me understand what makes a "found object" become art, and how to starting seeing it.

Start Seeing Art

So John, what is your artistic specialty?

Turning garbage into gold!

You mentioned to me that you have a DIY approach to art.  Please explain.

I dropped my college art major because I felt I could do more on my own. I've been doing it more or less ever since.  You don't need to be initiated into the mysteries of the art world 'cause it's mostly crap. Find something that really gets you excited and figure out a way to put it up on a wall.

What's the difference between "found object" that's art, and "found something not that cool"?

You don't always know right away.  It helps to be a pack rat or have lots of space to store junk you might be able to do something with...someday.  I've been doing it for awhile so I think I've upped my average.  Sometimes it something unique -I've never seen something like this before!  Then there's finding a whole bunch of something and I
think "If I can figure out how to make this look great, I just scored big time."

You also mentioned that "it's really about seeing".  What do you mean by that? And how about 3 tips for people on Curbly to improve their ability to "see".

Many people have a hard time making art because they don't really see things anymore. The world gets reduced down to symbols- shorthand.  If you already know what you are seeing, why look again?... I recently spent an hour showing a couple artwork in my studio.  On the walk back to the car, the husband was looking at the walls, the street, buildings, and said " Wow, you must just see art everywhere"  Yeah, it's like that.

1. Just like anything you enjoy looking at, you need to do some looking at art, and build a visual language.
2. What do you like, what draws your eye, what surrounds you?  What ties these images together?  Look for common ground.
3. Look at things that aren't beautiful, try to think about them as if they were, or how they could be.

When I look around my apartment, I see pictures and art that have become stale.  Any ideas for sprucing up my existing art or for anyone looking to rejuvenate what they've already got (or found)?

New frame? Better lighting?  If it's something special, make sure it looks like it. If it's not that great, there's collage, cover up the bits that don't fit your look and paste on pics from magazines or if you've collected paper or fabric bits use them to make a new composition over the old one.  Turn it around.  Is there something simpler on the back? Some yellowed paper with some illegible pencil writing?  Or wooden stretcher bars with frayed edges of canvas?  Hmmmm, live with that for awhile then turn it around again. Maybe you'll see something new there too. 



Thanks John!!  Very inspiring ideas about seeing art.  And I like the tip about turning my boring art around!  Actually, it'd probably be an improvement!

Let John know what you think!  Comment here or on his profile.


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