Brainwash and Art

I just finished watching the street art documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” again and as it did the first time, it got me thinking. (some spoilers follow. I do recommend watching the film before reading on.) The documentary starts out with our unusual documentarian meeting and getting caught up in the street art community. After ultimately failing to produce a documentary from his thousands of hours of tape, he is told to stop filming and try to make some art of his own while someone else tries to make something out of his tapes. He does this and creates a body of work that is a horrible dizzying derivative mess created by an army of contracted artists.

It is a very thought provoking issue because of the nature of the art produced. The filmmaker, who adopts the name Mr. Brainwash, ends up throwing off ideas in a manic frantic way and uses other artists working under him to bring the ideas to fruition. He is a DJ spinning and mixing together the work of others and then assigning someone else to finish the work. .

Here is a man with creative vision but no discipline. His creativity is broad but not deep. The street artists that helped create him regret the act. Shepard Fairey and Bansky are troubled by the outcome of their association with Mr. Brainwash.

I can’t help but be jealous of Mr. Brainwash’s bold confidence. He is unflinching in his creative process. As unoriginal as he is, he is bold and unrelenting. I wish that i had created a fraction of the art that he has made. I need to take a lesson from this man and be braver about creation and to make more good work. The other lesson is to not make sub-par copy/past work that has been created by others. There is a legitimacy to directors, editors, and producers, but there is a limit to how much authorship you can claim to a work that you have commissioned and not wrought with your own hands.


Creativity has never been a problem of mine. I have no problem thinking up new and interesting things to do/make. My real problem is following through on them. In order to try and keep myself accountable, I am going to post my list of projects with an approximate percent completed. This will be a helpful reference and it will keep me honest on whether or not I am getting things done.

  • Wedding Book 0%
  • Wedding Arch 10%
  • Bridesmaid earrings 30%
  • Groomsmen gifts 20%
  • Pottery for office craft fair 45%
  • Sketchbooks for sale 0%
  • Batch 11 of mead for the wedding guests 0%

I’m frairly sure that there are more things that I am forgetting. If I think of them, I will update this post.

Wheel Trouble

Last weekend a good friend of mine loaned me his Shimpo electric potter’s wheel. I was stoked to get started and after a quick run to Home Depot to pick up a couple of bolts to set the table attachment up, I was ready to go! Unfortunately, I got half way into my third bowl when the wheel stopped turning. I scraped my half made bowl off the wheel and began investigating it. After chasing down voltages with my Volt-Ohm meter, I believe that a component on the controller card has burned out. The voltage going into the switch looks good. The voltage going into and out of the bridge rectifier looks good. The voltage going into the card looks good but I only get ½ volt DC coming out of the card to power the motor. I searched the internet for a replacement card but was not able to find anything.

I finally emailed the manufacturer and for $280 they are sending me a new card. This has been a very frustrating experience.

I am Maker Mead

I have always loved to make things, mostly physical functional things but also stories and good times. From the time I was little, my father always had a woodworking shop. At first it was a hobby of his and then it became his source of income, and now in retirement, he still has his own shop where he can go to build and tinker. He would find an interest and pursue it. From playing guitar in a band in high school to drawing to photography to cabinetry, he is always learning and mastering new things. I am proud to share this trait with him.

My first art was drawing and sadly it is one of my weaker skills. I have gone on to develop skills in ceramics, woodworking (especially woodturning), mead brewing, and writing. I am continually being drawn into new crafts and would love the opportunity to explore bookbinding, painting, blacksmithing, armoring, and jewelry making.

One of the greatest challenges in the crafts that I am drawn to is the startup cost. I have a modest workshop with a few tools, but the power tools, kilns, forges, and materials can add up to a significant amount. Despite this, I am ready to make more of a commitment to my workshop. I am ready to spend the money and time to pursue art more fully. This blog will catalog that effort, as I work to expand my skills and make some sense out of what it means to be a functional artist in the time and place I live. I hope you will follow along with me and chime in when you have something to contribute.