Playing the long game

I’m up to my eyeballs right now in writing proposals: funding, exhibitions, festivals, commissions and just general hunting for opportunities. I’m in the phase that I call “the substrate". It isn’t glamorous. There are no juicy photos to post. I’ve been a bit silent on social media, so some may assume that I’ve got nothing going on. But in truth, that’s when most of the real work is happening.  

Spending my days writing and researching can be tough for an artist like me who often just wants to be left alone in my studio so I can turn my brain off and make things with my hands. But ultimately, I love the final product of building a big project, both in scale and in outreach. So I need to put a lot of pieces in place first. There’s no instant gratification in building foundations but of course, we all know what happens if you build on shaky ground.

Whenever I get impatient, and feel like a big project will never take form (because I need more funding, or more partners, or more x, y, or z) I remind myself about Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the legendary installation artists (http://christojeanneclaude.net). Some of their projects took around 10 years to accomplish, from initial plan to final realization. I find that really inspiring. It gives me the strength to see beyond my immediate obstacles and to just be persistent. I also respect that they paid for all of their projects through the sales of preparatory drawings and earlier works. They did not accept sponsorship of any kind. 

I also get a whole whack of inspiration and motivation from Vik Muniz, specifically from his Portraits of Garbage series and the resulting documentary film “Wasteland”. Sure, he has a lot of resources and financial partners to back a big project. But i feel like what made that project successful was his belief in what he wanted to do. The heart of his idea was to reveal the humanity of the people of Jardim Gramacho (the world's largest dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro) and he didn’t listen to the negative thoughts or be deterred by the many obstacles he faced (see details on blog Recycle Nation). 

If you build it, they will come. 

So now I want to know what creative projects inspire you to play the long game? Let me know in the comments section.