Process vs Final Piece

So a while ago I did a call out on my Instagram for blog topics. This one, suggested by the awesome Chris West Pottery really stood out to me.

How much value should we put on the process behind a work of art? Or is it all about the final piece? 

So if you don’t know very much about my work, I would say I am a process based artist. Tate helpfully defines this for me as: 

‘…..where the process of its making art is not hidden but remains a prominent aspect of the completed work, so that a part or even the whole of its subject is the making of the work’

So to summarise, if you start with an image or an idea of what you’re going to create, that is final piece focused. You know what you want to achieve, and generally have a plan of how you’re going to get there. Now I don’t want to say one of these ways is the ‘right way to make art’ as everyone is different but at the end of the day surely the final piece is the most important thing, as that’s what’s you see in the gallery? - Maybe not, I mean you could say that performance art is all process, based on the audience seeing the whole performance, or creation of the work, so here i’m thinking about things like this work by Shozo Shimamoto

Image credit: Arte Magazine. 

I mean apart from the fact that this looks ultimately fun to make, if the audience is watching the process of the creation, is that process based? Or does the artist have a plan all along and this kind of work is choreographed? I mean surely, for any of you who have written an exhibition proposal, you need to tell the gallery what you’re going to do to get funded in the first place. Is the performance itself the piece of art or is the process of watching it, the artwork. Up for debate right? 

I digress, I’m going to use my own work as an example, because I know the ins and outs of how I make it. I don’t have a fixed idea of what i’m going to create, usually I just turn up and see where my mood takes me. For me the process often takes the artwork in unexpected directions I couldn’t have really planned. 

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A post shared by Bobbie Whittaker Abstract Art (@bobbiewhittakerart)

(See the video above) Did I know what was going to happen when I made this, I mean a little, but there was never a final piece in mind. Does this make me any less of an artist because a lot of my work happens because of chance? I shouldn’t have to justify myself as an artist, but I feel I need to here. Yes I do know how to draw and paint forms and I could do, and I could plan, but that’s not me. I struggle with perfectionism and control in my life and process based work is the opposite to that. If I don’t have a final piece in mind, then I can’t fail right? Does it always work, no, do I learn things, yes. Swings and roundabouts. 

So Chris: How much value should we put on the process behind a work of art? Or is it all about the final piece? I don’t think you can put more value on either one of the process or the final piece. Does every artist have a process, yes? Is it always a planned process? I guess not so much. Is the process more valuable to the artist than the buyer, maybe? 

Thoughts welcome as always.


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