We all remember our high school days. Those were much simpler times… before being hit with the crippling weight of adulthood, career and responsibility. Back then, teachers were these nuisances that would stress the “trivial things”. They were constantly asking you stupid questions to which you had no answer. Whilst most of these students move on never quite solving the enigma that is “Sir” or “Miss”, I am well and truly now living on the other side. This is the thing about being a teacher – you feel yourself becoming that ‘pain in the ass’ that as a student you wish would just “chill out”. That being said, it makes so much more sense now!
When I was studying TEE Art the question “who is your artist influence?” was painful. I don’t know? Who cares? “I’m doin’ me!” I wasn’t really interested in looking at dusty old books and trying to find some guy born a millennia ago who painted something I was remotely interested in. Of course a lot has changed since 2003. It is SO much easier to be connected with like-minded artists – who doesn’t follow a few dozen tattoo artists on Instagram? I definitely want to challenge young designers to find a balanced mix of contemporary and classical artists and really dissect what it is exactly that draws them to their work. When you are able to vocalise what it is that draws you to someone else’s aesthetic, you’ll be able to capitalise on your own style. Whilst helping students find influences for their artwork, I came across Matthew Roby’s Pickled Circus. I grew up collecting Goosebump books and Oddbodz cards, which is why this style is so nostalgic for me – go check him out!
The other question which always guaranteed a chorus of crickets was “what message are you trying to communicate with your piece?” At that age and at that stage of your creative journey you’re more interested in creating something that you won’t be embarrassed to claim as your own. I see it in these students – they are so wrapped up in making something look good that they box themselves into these rigid little boxes instead of listening to the message and letting that guide the technique and materials. Now, I know I am guilty of this myself so they’ll never hear me get exasperated over them not placing more importance on developing a deep, well-thought out message. In fact, I feel that it is something that comes more easily with age and greater life and world experiences. You always hear of both teens and adults stressing the importance of the high school years- when the reality is students may simply not reached the maturity to achieve those expectations.
We are all guilty of giving our teachers a tough time and a nary remark when confronted with something we were unable to answer. Take a moment to appreciate that at the end of the day, successful or not, they were introducing us to processes which make far more sense as an adult than they ever did as a pubescent teen!