lucio pozzi

The Creative Spiral

One of my painting teachers, Lucio Pozzi, once explained to me the concept of the creative spiral:

Artists (or any creative professionals for that matter) evolve over time. Their work progresses and gets better with time. Lets say that the stage at which the artist begins his/her career is point A. Let’s say that point Z, is when he/she has their solo-show or retrospective. Along the way there are many other points, or stages in the artist’s career (points B through Y).

Now lets say a collector/dealer comes along to the artist after they’ve had their first show A, and says: “this work is great, but now make it even better”. In other words: “give me B”.

A year later the collector returns to the studio and sees that instead of B, what they got is something completely different and un-related to A. Something you can’t even assign a letter to because its off the charts. The artist went off on some completely unexpected tangent and created something that the dealer/collector just can’t “bring to the market”.

The problem is that artists don’t evolve in a straight line. They evolve in a spiral.

The market wants artists to evolve in a straight line. They want consistently better products year, after year, after year. The market also wants visually consistent products, they want this year’s products to look sort of like last year’s, and better. Consistency is easier to market. They want something that they can package. If the “green” painting sold, the dealers wants more green paintings.

The artist too wants to work in a straight line, because they have bills to pay and they want the collectors/dealers to buy their work. But no matter how hard the artist tries, it just doesn’t work. Creativity is not linear. Creativity is an expanding spiral, where a line can be traced from the center to a point far in the periphery of the spiral, but it is by no means a direct course. Artists like to wander, and to allow themselves to be taken over by inspiration as they encounter it. One year an artist might be painting, the next they may wish to make sculptures or write haikus. Trying to impose order over this process is usually counterproductive and detrimental.

At some point the market has to accept that artists are not factories. Ideas come out in an organic fashion, and this process has to be nurtured. These ideas are also not limited to fine artists, I believe designers and all creative individuals work in a similar fashion.

When discoveries start to be taught in schools, it means that we have managed to extract some rules than can be explained. The moment this happens, they cease to be discoveries and become canons from which one can depart on new explorations. Canons can be used as open departure platforms or be guarded as closed criteria out of which one should not stray, confines a serious artist is expected not to trespass. The latter is an option that leads to artistic red tape. Today’s artists take the plunge, full of anticipation only to find themselves bogged down in a Byzantine labyrinth of reckoning and precaution, imposed by the bureaucratization of culture.
—  Lucio Pozzi