Lately I've been thinking a lot about the maker of things vs. artist thing. A couple of nights ago, when I couldn't sleep, I read through Amelia's wonderful blog 101 Bird Tales, and it was one of the best things I've done in a long time. Sometimes I think too much, often I talk too little. I do feel very alone, making things. My mother makes things, in a way she gave me this whole world of moving your fingers in a certain way in order to get the result you want. But I suppose I'm not yet old enough to get over the fact that she's my mother, or maybe we just don't see each other often enough, so it's a bit tricky talking with her about the way I see myself and my work. My Finnish friends are mostly writers, they inspire that side of me, but it's a rare treat to get to talk about bookbinding, and all of this part of my life, with people who make things with passion.
I'm very thankful to this blog thing, I've made some true friends through my blog, had some amazing conversations concerning combining art and life, and well, just life, via email. There's a wonderful network of creative people here, I should try and get more involved. Finland is a very small country, the internet is huge. I know you can't stop by and have a cup of coffee (while I have my apple juice), but other than that, you're absolutely great.
I'm constantly redefining myself and my work. I don't know if it's necessary, really, but people ask me all the time what it is that I do, and usually I don't know what to say. I say I'm a (master) bookbinder, that I'm an artisan, that I make pretty darn amazing books, but I don't think I've ever said I was an artist. I find it easy to say I make objects that can be used for X, but it's very complicated to say "I'm an artist, I make art, like books, or little boxes with things glued to them", even though it's so much closer to the truth than the woefully vague term "bookbinder". No one seems to know what a bookbinder makes anyway. But by defining myself as an artist, I give others the permission to see, and evaluate, myself as one. And no one wants to be that wannabe-artist you just don't get :) Also, artists seem to have very little money in general, if I'm a maker of things, I may still have hope.
This doesn't really lead anywhere, at least not tonight, but I'm always interested in reading the thoughts of other creative people, so I thought I'd share this with you now that I've been rambling here lately anyway. Does redefining yourself ever lead to anything? Well, yes, but it's transient even at its best. Worth doing nonetheless.
Why the picture? (Greenwhich, London)
A year ago I made a trip to London, on my own. It was eye-opening to say the least. I found something really important there, and I think it was myself. Those eight days there changed a lot. And I spent an entire day with Karen, it was such a great fun, I enjoyed it thoroughly. We should do it again. Karen, and actually, everyone non-creepy, I'm planning to spend a couple of days in London around the new year (nothing booked or even properly planned yet!!), will you come and talk with me about art and stuff? I'm taking a step closer to most of my readers, so maybe we could have that coffee/juice? (Okay, I realize only a handful of you live anywhere near London, but it's still closer to most of you than Turku is. And I'd be thrilled to meet just one person. I'm not desperate ;) I just like meeting nice people. You must be nice, you're here, aren't you?) And if you can't make it to London when I'm there, we can still talk. Or write, my email is on my profile, and I do reply, sometimes it just takes a while, sometimes I reply the minute I see that little envelope going up and down on my screen.
Anyway, it was Amelia (thankyou!!), who inspired me to write down these things that have been going round and round in my head. Her blog made me remember that I'm definitely not alone. It's always refreshing to find blogs with that real-person feeling. If you have some free time, and even if you don't, go read a bit, it's worth it. Sometimes you find just the right thing at the right time.