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Ivan's picture

Accidental creativity

Sometimes a creative idea hits you when you least expect it. The other day I wanted to try out the ink-jet iron-on transfer for t-shirts, so I sat down to think of a cool design. I like to use books with pictures as inspiration, so I took a book about modern art to see if I get an idea. I opened up the book on Joseph Kossuth's frames. It's a conceptual piece of art. His art piece consists of three objects besides each other. A frame, a picture of that frame and the dictionary definition of the word frame.

I thought I can do something similar for my t-shirt design. First, I deep etched a bug from a picture I took the other day. Than, I looked up the word bug and wanted to put it's definition beside it. But, while I was searching for the right paragraph I realized that it would be more interesting if I would rather put the definition relating to a defect or difficulty in a system or design instead of the defintion to it as an insect or listening device, simply because I'm a geek.

However I wasn't happy with my design because Joseph's original piece had three stages and I only had two, so I felt like I'm missing something, but I settled for this design because I thought the twist in using the second meaning makes up for the lack of stages. So, I printed out the design and ironed it on the t-shirt carefully following the instructions. After a long one minute of waiting for the transfer to cool down I could finally start to peel off the paper from the t-shirt. Only to find out that I was such an idiot not to take into consideration that I should've flipped the design horizontally. I was very pissed because it was a cool t-shirt and I thought I ruined it.

At this point my wife and a friend came in and asked what I was doing. I showed them how I screwed up. They told me that it's no way a screw up and that's how it should be. It's all about a bug remember! True, the third phase of my t-shirt design suddenly fell in place. I have the picture of the bug, the definition and an example of a design with a bug. I was delighted. By accident I created a really cool design, with several layers of meaning.

One can only hope that such luck finds him, when there is an urgent need for real world award winning designs. Nevertheless surrounding yourself with stuff that inspires you, making sure your senses are alert and following a creative plan of attack are certainly helpful.

This event reminded me of a story I was told about at the University by my teacher of history of modern art. Ironically, this story was about an artist who Joseph Kossuth frequently quoted. The professor told us about this extremely successful artist, who have created several groundbreaking conceptual pieces of art and was considered as one of the most important figures in the modern times. He was on the peek of his career, when one day he suddenly told the public that he retires from being an artist and from than on he will devote his life to chess only. It was a dissapointment for many and fans didn't stop nagging him to continue doing his great work. He resisted for several years, and just about when everybody gave up on him, he announced that he's going to make a last piece of art before he truly retires forever. Everybody was very anxious to see what will he come up with. This piece of art was very complex in it's meaning and it's physical execution and it was made up of large sheets of glass. He worked on it for a very long time and couldn't get it finished, because he wasn't completely happy with it. Finally the artwork had to be released for the exhibition. While shipping the big heavy piece, the workers who carried the artwork hit the glass surface against a hard corner, which made the meticulously prepared artwork to crack. The artist stopped, looked at his baby and happily noted: "Now it's ready for the show!". The now famous crack became an integral part of the artwork.

Can you guess who this artist was? The first comment with the correct answer will be rewarded with a CreativeGear of his choice. Get the bug t-shirt for instance.

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Anonymous's picture

hi Ivan.. :)

i recall a story about a painting of Marcel DuChamp's that sounds like the one you mean..

i'm particularly fond of his humour, and i love the fact that a crack in the glass completed his picture.

... mick

Ivan's picture

mick: congratulation, you are winner! it is indeed Marcel Duchamp.

which item would you like to receive? email me with your shipping address.

Ivan's picture

Looks like drJohn is another winner, who posted in the forum. He was an hour faster, but I didn't notice. So we have two winners.

Thanks for playing the game guys! :)

Anonymous's picture

i'm pleased to have gotten it right, ivan... and now i wish i'd signed into the forum.

but.. i didn't, and i think you should just award Dr John. 2 prizes is too expensive for a humble blogger, and you have already given me much (ie.. excellent PS and OS X tips).

thank you,



charlie don't surf's picture

You completely mangled that Duchamp anecdote.

Duchamp's worked for many years on a painting on glass, "The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Batchelors, Even" but eventually grew bored and declared that he could not complete the work. The piece was placed on permanent exhibition despite its incompleted state. Quite a few years later, while the piece was being shipped to another museum for a temporary exhibit, it was smashed into pieces. Duchamp tediously restored the work, putting every tiny piece back into place, and it was sandwiched between two panes of glass to keep it together. Duchamp declared the piece had "reached its definitive state of incompletion" and it was put back on display.

Duchamp never declared the smashed work was finally ready for exhibition, quite the opposite. He said that even if he wanted to finish the work (which he did not) he could not, because the pane of glass was too cracked to paint on. Duchamp said he was indifferent to the condition of the piece, it did not matter if the work was cracked or uncracked. The piece was a conceptual artwork, so its visual appearance was insignificant to him.

Furthermore, Duchamp never retired to play chess. Sure, that's what he told everyone. But he was secretly working on a huge diorama, "Eau et Gaz sur tous les Etage," his final work. The piece was supposedly a 3D version of "The Bride Stripped Bare.." and was executed many years after the Bride was cracked.

Ivan's picture

Interesting. Thanks for clearing it up. :)

Anonymous's picture

This site is so cool. It is the only blog in my bookmarks.

Anonymous's picture

Charlie, I believe the work you're referring to is actually titled "Etant donnes: 1. la chute d'eau/2. le gaz d'elairage" (please forgive the missing accents), or "Given: 1. the waterfall/2. the illuminating gas." It is an installation (a tableau viewed through one of two peepholes in a large wooden door) that is part of the Arensberg Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of art. It's not necessarily a 3-D version of the Large Glass, though it can be viewed as something of a sequel-- the bride, finally stripped bare, has completed the task the bachelors sought to complete by herself (much like the bachelors "grinding their own chocolate" in the bottom half of the Large Glass). That's just one interpretation I've read, though. It opened after his death, and to the best of my knowledge it was his last work of art, or at last major work of art.

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