ryan seslow

Keyboard cast in paper pulp / 2011 limited edition

Keeping a digital image idea archive is useful, here’s why.

Artists and creatives, how do you keep track of all of your ideas? How do you record and document your works in progress? What about a concise record of all of your completed works? How about all of those endless brainstorms and idea fragments that are so quickly lost if you do not record them in some way shape or form? Technology rules here in late 2011. Yes, keeping a sketch book is still a great idea, and we all should continue to do that, but has the context changed of what a sketchbook is? I believe it has evolved. I think that its upkeep requires a bit more responsibility. Perhaps it is an integration of both the traditional drawn and written technique now synthesized with a mobile technology based device (digital camera, camera phone, ipad, laptop, smart phone, ect…) If you’re a working artist, and or a super passionate creative person who makes tangible things, chances are that you have filled an endless number of sketch books in your time. Depending on your age perhaps, but I’m sure we have all faced the issue of “Where the heck is that great concept sketch I did last summer?” So, you begin your quest, tirelessly searching through volumes of past sketchbooks, and random papers not finding what you need. Perhaps you even became sidetracked by several other conflicting ideas from 1999… Maybe you like this exercise in conscious intentional distraction? If so, great. I tend to like a bit more immediacy and efficiency with my research time. We are all busy, time management is key for anyone living in today’s busy world. Chances are, you also have other life related responsibilities besides your art/art making passion. Its time to create a digital image archive for yourself. Label it properly by breaking it into folders that easily categorize your disciplines and subjects. Everything and everyone is becoming more and more mobile. The beauty of technology allows for us to work and access “our stuff” from anywhere anytime. I personally love using sites and application like Flickr, Dropbox, icloud, iphoto, and even google docs has had an upgrade to a presentation layout based style for image spreads. I am also a teaching artist, so for me, having access to my idea image archive is crucial. The services listed above are just a few but they certainly do the trick. You will need your own digital camera for the sake of documentation. I know that camera phones have come a long way over the last 5 years, and they will work for immediate capture sketches, but for the sake of high resolution, something better will be necessary. Even if it is for photographing your hand drawn sketches. I work on a mac operating system so I import my images into iphoto. This application easily allows for me to spread myself out a bit over the web. Back up and sharing accessibility is key here. I also have a few external hard drives for extended back up, but I also love using flickr. If you do not know about flickr, you can check it out here http://www.flickr.com it’s free to sign up, and it gives you plenty of free space for a while. Over time, and if you post and upload on a frequent basis, you will have to upgrade to a pro/unlimited account. This is perfect for the small yearly subscription fee. I have made a ton of friends and contacts using flickr. Frequent visitors and other artists comment and send me feedback on a regular basis. Flickr allows for me to show my works in progress. This helps me trace and retain my process. I use these images for creating my lesson plans, and also my next bodies of work. By participating and responding to other people’s images builds the relationships. Flickr allows for one to also post images directly to your wordpress, twitter, tumblr, and facebook pages. Feedback on my works while they are in progress continues to remind me that each idea that I have has the potential to expand. We may see it one way, but others will perceive it a whole other way. I have realized, one must participate in the expanding dialog with his or her own work and ideas. Images tell stories, and can become the formulas for what happens next. We can do this by getting to know our ideas/images. By spending time with them, and expanding the ways that we may receive “viewers”. The world has become your gallery, if you will. When was the last time you cruised through your images of works and ideas from 5 years ago? Ten years ago? Or last year? Do you have that kind of management of your ideas and works? Revisiting your images of older works and the current works in progress will help you extend those ideas. You will add to them or make important critical choices to regain clarity of their direction. I promise you this. Our own ideas and concepts have the infinite potential to be revised and further developed. This is a multidisciplinary faculty that every artist and creative should desire. You can view my flickr archive here: http://ww.flickr.com/photos/rmsmovement I’m in the process of writing another post that focuses purely on an exercise that can be done with your image archives. Keep in touch, and please share your own experiences here.