Woodworking Perspectives #1: An Artist's Statement

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 07-05-2007 05:07 AM 2310 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Woodworking Perspectives series Part 2: Woodworking - The Next Generation »

Taking A Breath-

It’s the Fourth of July and I decided to not work the last half of the day. I have been working weekends and that includes half days on Sundays.

Anybody that thinks about taking the leap professionally needs to observe closely. Some of you will do it no matter what warnings are issued because you will be like me, you can’t help yourself.

Stack O’ Pubs-

I was able to read a couple of articles in my magazines that are piling up and I found something that I wanted to share.

I was reading in “Woodwork” magazine issue 105 of June ‘07. It was in the ShopTalk article written by Terry Martin, on the passing of Dona Z. Meilach. She was the author of various craft oriented books.

I have not read or purchased any of her books, but from the article I think that I like her and would have liked her. She had such a down to earth perspective of art and artists.

She was quoted as saying:

“I am annoyed with the juggling of nonsensical semantic nuances. Regardless of whether any of the pieces illustrated has an obvious use or exists as an intellectual stimulation (or functional versus non-functional if you prefer), the artist’s creative processes are the same: visualization, execution, results, audience.” Unquote.

I know a handful of artists and I like most of them and really enjoy being around them. They are very genuine and down to earth. They energize me because they have a unique perspective on the everyday things. The mundane is seen in the abstract. It is not any status of celebrity they possess that energizes me, it is the ordinary person in them that I love to interact with. They are just wired differently and that is what comes out in their work.

I have certainly been around some that are all about the performance of being an artist. They try too hard and it is not natural, they are not comfortable to be around. They are the artists that write the statements that my wife and I roll our eyes at when we read them. They sound artificially sophisticated.

Here’s my artist statement: people know dog crap when they smell it, and see it, and they will avoid it.

”He’s so down to earth.”

How many of you Sam Maloof admirers have read that exact statement or met him and thought that exact statement?

Gary Knox Bennet is a colorful character in comparison to the reserved personality of Sam Maloof and yet it would be accurate to say the same thing of his personality and perspective. (This is an observation made through a personal conversation with G. K. Bennet.)

The artist in these guys as well as the others I know, it just IS . It is not a performance or forced. It is natural and genuine.

A Great Group of Guys (and Gals)-

One of the things that I love about LJ is the artistic and creative minds that meet here. They are of various levels and commitment. But the best part of it is how genuine everyone is. I really appreciate that quality in the people I meet here.

A Real Life Application-

This has a real application in business. I have considered much in how I want to present my person and my work as a professional. This is a sensible business consideration for marketing, branding, and image making.

What I do will have to be professional, but honest and genuine. It will have to feel comfortable to wear everyday and appear pleasing to the public.

What it comes down to for me is trying to couple a creative aptitude with enough business acumen to result in financial success. Whatever I do will have to maintain a high level of integrity in craftsmanship and in business practice.

I hope I have provided some considerations as anyone mulls over “taking the leap.”

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

11 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4343 days

#1 posted 07-05-2007 05:17 AM

Good points! I’ve know what you mean.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4128 days

#2 posted 07-05-2007 05:38 AM

It was just refreshing to sit down and feel like I was sharing something of substance again. Thanks for reading.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4356 days

#3 posted 07-05-2007 06:05 AM

Well put. If you can’t be yourself, then who can you be? And if you don’t like the work enough to do it seven days a week. keep your day job (or find one you can tolerate) while crafting in your spare time. I think our wedding photograper (a one-man show who only “works” weekends, puts in 10-12 hour days, 60 plus hours a week.

Someone in a self-help sort of capacity was quoted as saying that anyone who wants to be a writer never will be, but those who want to write actually may succeed in that field. Same with art – those that desire the romance and status of being any given occupation don’t have the desire or drive necessary that the people who actually want to do the work for the works sake, and the occupation is secondary. (fame, notoriety, and any of those trappings are off the radar screen)
Give me a room full of creative people, or just one, to pass an afternoon with. Someone inspiring for their work,... Not a person who thinks that they’re interesting because of what they do.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4115 days

#4 posted 07-05-2007 06:13 AM

You have to be able to like the guy you see when shaving every morning. Brushing your teeth in your case Dennis….:)

-- Bob

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4128 days

#5 posted 07-05-2007 06:21 AM

Thanks for the addition Scott.

My wife and I love art, fine food, and the symphony. But we are not petentious people. Art enhances our lives in such an intrinsic manner. The art around us stimulates me in my work, even though it would not be considered related.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4206 days

#6 posted 07-05-2007 10:00 AM

As I read and think about this, Todd, I am reminded of many similar sentiments express by another one of our top LJ artists in a current blog by Mark DeCou. You are both about integrity underlining your image – that’s a good thing as Martha would say.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

656 posts in 4163 days

#7 posted 07-05-2007 12:31 PM

. Todd, you are right about the LJ’s we are down to earth and willing to help anyone in a heart beat.

Some people say I’m and artist but I like to think of myself as the average bullshiter. I like to make things that get people asking questions. The biggest thrill to me is when I can be that spark that gets creativity flowing within someone.

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4053 days

#8 posted 07-05-2007 04:59 PM

Todd, you make a wonderful point.

Too many people are enamored with the IDEA of art, but have no idea how to relate to it. A perfect example is a woman I knew that was obsessed with “culture”. She believed that all “cultured” people listened to classical music, and she wanted to be “cultured”. So, she would sit and listen to a classical album with this “look” on her face as though she was completely transported by the music. However, when you discussed the music with her, you rapidly determined that she hadn’t a clue about what she had heard. I don’t mean the details of the style, thematic structure of the music, or any such “book knowledge”. I mean that she couldn’t express how the music affected her, or why she liked this style of piece over that. It came down to the fact that for her the act of listening was something “cultured” people did, rather than an art form to be experienced. What a shame!

I’m always leery when I hear an “expert” passing judgment on the work of another. Art is simply the external expression of an individual’s natural insight and creativity. True art is neither good or bad, just as feelings are neither good or bad. If this outward expression interacts with the viewer’s aesthetic inclinations, that’s wonderful! If it doesn’t, this changes nothing about the piece or the creator.

Trying to impress others with your creativity is much like trying to fall asleep—it’s usually counterproductive.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4128 days

#9 posted 07-05-2007 06:02 PM

Your statements really help fulfill what I was getting at. Great perspective.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4115 days

#10 posted 07-06-2007 08:23 PM

Reminds me of the folks that you hear discussing the symbolism of an artwork. I heard a story a number of years ago about an artist who was fed up with some art critics. He spattered his dog with paint and had him shake it off onto the canvasses. The “art” was then presented in a private show….to rave reviews of some of the critics invited. One supposedly had 3 paragraphs discussing the “symbolism” of the pieces. The artist then revealed his secret.

It’s all summed up in the phrase “I don’t know art , but I know what I like”

-- Bob

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3968 days

#11 posted 01-27-2010 01:39 AM

It’s great that we can scroll through a blog series, otherwise I wouldn’t have found this. It’s good to bring some of the earlier stuff back to the top. Well said, Todd.

-- Working at Woodworking

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