10 June 2007

Planners and Searchers

Flourish by Markus Raetz

In the latest "Three Minute Egg" on the Crown Point Press Magical Secrets web site, Kathan Brown introduces us to the prints of Markus Raetz, and she frames the discussion of his work by talking about two types of artists, Searchers and Planners. Searchers are artists who work from experience. They love to explore materials and experiment to see what happens. Planners work from an idea, choosing materials and techniques in service of the concept.

I immediately identified myself as a Planner, and in the video Brown calls Raetz a Planner, too. She tells a story about the print shown above and points out that knowing the story -- that this print was created immediately after the September 11 attacks -- can enhance the artwork for a viewer. I often worry about that myself, as sometimes the idea I'm working from isn't obvious. But Raetz says something interesting. He says that he uses his subject matter only for himself, as a way for him to get into the work himself, and that it doesn't matter if the viewer knows the story or not. I think that may be true -- that just because I'm attached to my own idea doesn't mean that a viewer needs to be.

At any rate, I'm a planner who wants to become more of a Searcher. I always begin with a concept; I can't seem to help doing that. But if I hold too tightly to a plan, I find that the execution can become boring for me. Lately I'm working on keeping my plans loose and experimenting more as I go along, allowing the image to evolve even as I try to stay close to my original intention.

How do you work? Are you a Searcher or a Planner? Do Planners always envy Searchers and vice versa?


peggy said...

Good questions. I'm looking foreward to reading the responses.

(I had a little rant about the Egg video here but thought better of it. On with the questions....)

I'm definetly a searcher. For the past six months or so I've been struggling with relief printing. Not having much experience in the process I looked for examples, found a myriad of wonderful artists (your work included, Annie) and was awed at the detail and preciseness of it all- and intimidated. By using works I admired as teaching tools and following directions for process and technique, I created some quite awful prints! I've just recently thrown caution to the wind, so to speak, and am rediscovering the freedom and randomness of printing that I've enjoyed in the past. Dues to pay, I guess.

And yes, I do sometimes envy Planners.

m.Lee said...

I am certainly not much of a planner so I must be a searcher. Sometimes I wish I was more of a planner and my work was more about something bigger than the process of making it.

Annie B said...

Thanks for the responses. I was thinking that since printmaking is pretty technique-heavy it would be full of planner-types, but there seem to be plenty of searchers making prints! I'm definitely looking for a blend, even within all the technical requirements of moku hanga.
Peggy, I've made some awful prints too, just so you know.
Marissa, one thing I really love about your method is that you can use your blocks over and over again in so many ways.

Nicole Raisin Stern said...

To me, the process and product of creation is not all that black and white (does not have to be either/or). Seems to me that artists use a combination of spontaneity--what could be called "searching"--with planning and technique, and that it depends on each piece and varies from time to time. Currently, I'm not a printmaker, but in my paintings or cut paper pieces, I create from my ability to conceptualize an idea using the materials I have at hand, with a lean towards the spontaneous/"searching" side. Sometimes I have no idea what I'm going to paint/draw; I just dip in.

KJ said...

Seems if you're one, you want to be the other... what's up with that? I'm a searcher, usually in search of a plan. I waste a lot of paint hoping for that happy accident that will formulate something worth keeping. Sighhhh...