Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Creative Correspondence

Recently I had the opportunity to peruse Creative Correspondence by Michael & Judy Jacobs which I stumbled upon at my local library. I was excited because I knew the book included "15 unique card and envelope projects" and I hoped it would help me learn some new tricks. They also focus on recycling found materials for their projects, and emphasize that correspondence art is highly accessible to everyone (meaning materials and postage are very affordable and  creating a project like this doesn't have to require a lot of time).

 Although the initial premise did look promising, my overall impression was that this is a book to definitely borrow, not buy.  There were some ideas I liked, but altogether it didn't feel like it fit with my style.

The card/envelope projects  were unique as promised, but  a few of them that added personal photographs came off as a little creepy. They'd be super appropriate for children to send school pictures to grandma; or maybe, MAYBE even to send in a long distance love letter, but that's really all I could come up with. Most of the special techniques to embellish the cards and envelopes such as rubber stamps, colored pencils, and stickers frankly were already obvious to me. They also suggest bubble marbling (see "Bubble Painting #1") which did have some novelty as it was an elementary school activity once participated in and long since forgotten, but  I'm not really interested in exerting that much effort just to get a cool background when I have a massive trove of patterned scrapbooking paper already.

The Jacobs also suggest re-purposing what would be otherwise trashed and giving it a new life as a component of your work of art.  On one hand I think that including your ticket stub would add some extra visual interest when you're telling your friend about your review of a recent movie. When my sister was in college I received a letter whose envelope highlighted someone's goofy looking face she had constructed out of a magazine ad. (I still think that's one of the coolest envelopes I've ever been given.) However, I feel the Jacobs take it a little too far when they suggest taking a walk around town and not stopping until you find some interesting material in a local gutter. I get that that is in part the essence of found object art, but I really can't see myself spending my day off searching for actual garbage to pack up and ship to my friends around the world.

My final bone to pick with this book has to deal with their philosophy that great correspondence art shouldn't take long. In fact, they even suggest to spend no longer than 10 minutes on a piece to avoid interruption from your "inner critic". If you struggle with perfectionism or obsessive compulsive disorder, this may very well be some excellent advice for you. Nevertheless, it left me with the impression that the Jacobs spend 10 minutes slapping together some literal garbage supposedly elevating it to "art" status, and sending it off to fellow "artists". (For the record, I do have a very broad definition of what art is, so this does qualify, but it's really not my favorite style. I find works that are difficult to craft or take a lot of time and effort to achieve are more rewarding.)
In my experience the more time invested the better your work of art turns out. Although critiques can be humbling and sometimes painful experiences, they allow you to improve your work. I can understand that your inner critic may come across as crippling self-doubt instead of constructive self-help; but for me, smothering your inner critic almost sounds like smothering your conscience, and good things don't happen when you do that!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. The trouble with OCD is not stopping even with a timer. The art may get overworked to the point of holes in the paper or muddy colors. Too much paper is wasted in perfectionism. Both seemed helpful in piano practice tho. Like Michael Phelps said, hyperactivity diaorder helped him win Olympic gold medals!


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