Turning Archive 2005

Setting Goals and achieving them

Russ Fairfield
>There was some discussion started on goals and achievement in another thread. I sent some comments to Keith and he asked that I post them here, so here they are.

A discussion of setting artistic and personal goals, and how we achieve them, will be a much needed addition to the academic side of woodturning.

There are several downsides to achieving our highest artistic and personal goals in the art. There is too often a price to pay for fame and achievement. The road to fame is not always an easy one.

The popularity of a "signature work" can limit our exploration of other things; and the pressures of time and energy that are required to meet commissions, schedules, and deadlines can take all of the fun out of our art and leave little time for doing anything creative. Sometimes we have to be careful of what we wish for.

There are a few artists among us who have solved this time problem by contracting someone else to do all or a part of their work for them. It gives a whole new meaning to "signature work" when all they have to do is sign it and sell it. I know of two well known decorative artists who don't turn their own basic forms. One of them has since learned to turn their own forms, but still has others doing it for them because of the time required. They feel that having to turn their own "canvas" takes time away from their "art". We are always concerned about plagarism, but I think that the cheating, if that is what it is, would be a more worthy topic of discussion.

Another thing that I often see missing in the quest for the "art", is the knowledge of the basic skills that let us make our thoughts into reality. I have seen too many new woodturners, with excellent natural talents for form and the "art", achieve instant recognition and acclaim, only to soon fall by the wayside because they never took the time to learn how to turn wood. Having both the art and the skills is the key to a lasting success, and a combination that is shared by those we see at the top. Most aspiring artists miss this point. Those that see the connection are successful. Those that don't, aren't.

Then there is what I call, "The politics of artistic achievement". This is the having to "suck up" and be friendly to the right people, taking a class (sometimes more than one) from the right people, or doing whatever it takes to be in the right place at the right time.

Never discount the value of a "benefactor", but this will require positioning ourselves so they can discover us. Too many woodturners, regardless of the quality of their work, have yet to discover that THEY will not be discovered when nobody can see what they are doing.

And, sometimes the road to fame is lined with our detractors who act out of spite, jealousy, or whatever personal reasons of their own.

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