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Staff tips on experimenting

Gene Bawden
Gene Bawden by Osian Grant 2007

The following page contains tips from staff in the Faculty of Art & Design about experimenting, playing and taking risks with your art. Be inspired by their advice and act on that inspiration.

  • What role does studio experimentation play in your practice?
  • Tips for experimenting in Art & Design
  • In the development of your ideas, what is the role of 'play' and the element of 'risk taking'?
  • Tips for playing and taking risks

You can enjoy more great staff tips on observing here.

What role does studio experimentation play in your practice?

"Always and ongoing; there is never the perfect technique or material."

—Ken Smith, Department of Fine Arts

"My whole approach to art making or writing is about experimentation, mostly personal. There are no commercial or public considerations but only the concern for experimentation in expressing ideas and feelings - trying to produce or capture in words the impression I have inside. Much of my art comes from exploring, even playing, with materials and trying to achieve effects which convey my feelings. The same is true of much of my writing - it is about matching the words with the ideas and experiences I want to convey."

—Professor Bernard Hoffert, Graduate Studies

"At any given time I have a couple of 'leading edge' investigations going on (into process, technique, conceptual approach.) I work them out through a whole body of work and incorporate the successful approaches into my regular process."

—Rodney Forbes, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Lots! I have been working in an early photographic medium which is quite limited in terms of what is possible. Having this limitation is a paradox as it has actually resulted in an ever expanding range of approaches. The challenge is to discover new ways of invention, and I have found many new methods as a result of pushing these boundaries. I include found objects in my work and have derived great pleasure from looking at and considering everything in my world through the 'lens' of this technique."

—Susan Purdy, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Experimentation is the life-blood and energy of any design practice. Fear of failure can result in safe but forgettable and generic design - a vanilla existence in a beige world, urrrgh! Technology and handcrafts should be embraced together to create vibrant and challenging solutions."

—Gene Bawden, Visual Communication

Tips for experimenting in Art & Design

"Don't get complacent. Always be working on strengthening your weaknesses and bringing your strengths to the centre of your practice."

—Rodney Forbes, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Be brave; failure has its own rewards."

—Gene Bawden, Visual Communication

"Be willing to 'play' with an idea through modelling. Let an idea emerge from the process of 'playing'."

—Jo Dane, Interior Architecture

"Never rule anything out as possible material for artmaking. Think differently about things; explore them as though you had no preconceptions. Be alert. Consider everything an opportunity. Sometimes ask yourself, in the weirdest places, 'If I had to make an artwork here and now out of what I see around me, what could I do?'"

—Susan Purdy, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Learn to recognise the qualities of your experience, the differences in emotions and the power of subtle experience, for example a walk in the park, smelling a flower, the feeling of the wind on your skin, the sense of touch—"

—Professor Bernard Hoffert, Graduate Studies

"Don't give up too soon. Sometimes interesting ideas emerge after all the dud ideas have been exhausted. Be able to self critique and analyse the products of the 'play' process."

—Jo Dane, Interior Architecture

"Learn the benefit of challenge. While you may be good at one approach, you grow stagnant without branching into unfamiliar territory."

—Gene Bawden, Visual Communication

"Seek more questions rather than try to find answers."

—Jo Dane, Interior Architecture

"Always experiment - you will never stop learning."

—Ken Smith, Department of Fine Arts

In the development of your ideas, what is the role of 'play' and the element of 'risk taking'?

"Significant, but intuitive; in both art and writing the intention is to explore ways of finding expression, whether in play or as a challenge."

—Professor Bernard Hoffert, Graduate Studies

"'Play' and 'risk taking' are necessary components of art practice; they are part of creativity."

—Ken Smith, Department of Fine Arts

"There should be one part of your practice where you just play, to explore fresh fields. It could be in your drawing, side studies, source material collection or 'secret work'."

—Rodney Forbes, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Play is everything. Unexpected relationships between unrelated things often yield spectacular results. Materials need to be allowed to speak. I always try to be alert to the happy accident. If I notice myself saying to myself 'You can't do that', I interrogate why I think that and try to determine if it is really true."

—Susan Purdy, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"When you stop having fun, it's time to reconsider your options. Play and risk-taking are the sources of new discoveries."

—Gene Bawden, Visual Communication

"Pay attention and notice what is going on around you. Look at the edges of things and how they are changed by proximity to other different edges."

—Susan Purdy, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Artists are very fortunate members of society for they are given a licence to play. Use it!"

—Ken Smith, Department of Fine Arts

"This is different for each artist. Your 'play' area should be in the work you are passionate about."

—Rodney Forbes, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Fear of failure is the biggest inhibitor of creativity. You will learn a great deal from your mistakes and your willingness to take risks. Safety in decision making can breed mediocrity."

—Jo Dane, Interior Architecture

"Do not focus on the process, but on how the outcome might match the intention."

—Professor Bernard Hoffert, Graduate Studies

"Fear blocks intuition. Going towards your fear often dissolves it. Try to notice when you feel fearful about taking the next step as an artist and tackle it. Conversely, it is ok to have fun and play and enjoy making art. It does not have to be a struggle; it can be easy. Getting into the state where you experience 'flow' is a marvellous place to be as an art maker!

—Susan Purdy, Gippsland Centre for Art & Design

"Throw away your mouse and pick up a pencil!"

—Gene Bawden, Visual Communication

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