“Inspiration is for amateurs…”

I love Chuck Close. He can do some amazing things with paint. Every time I make a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum, I make sure to head up to the third floor to see one of my favorite pieces in the entire museum, Keith by Chuck Close [pictured below]. It’s not a photograph—that’s a painting, and a HUGE one at that. It’s 108 1/4 x 84 inches.

Well, recently I came across this excerpt by Chuck, and I can’t decide how I feel about it. While he makes a valid point about not waiting around for something to come to you, and just go out and start something, in most cases you do need some sort of plan, and possibly inspiration. Of course, each instance is different so you have to treat it differently. You may or may not need a plan, and in most cases people are inspired from something they previously saw or read. For me, it’s not just design that inspires me—it’s anything. Decide for yourself if you agree with Chuck or not.

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and somthing else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

-Chuck Close

"Keith" by Chuck Close


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