The Safe or the Untravelled

While I was in Atlanta I had the opportunity to meet up with Mark Weaver, an artist I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on a couple of occasions and an all around rad guy. We sat at a coffee shop chatting about our dreams and goals when an interesting topic came up, that of change. Mark was telling me that he was interested in changing his style because there were a lot of people emulating what he does, and well, he wanted something new. The problem was that clients wanted the “Mark Weaver” treatment, not the “new-and-improved Mark Weaver ” treatment. This was an interesting conundrum in my mind, but one that makes sense. People want a style that will be popular, not what could potentially be popular. The safe road that leads to a predictable location not the untravelled road that could potentially lead to greater success or flat out failure.

I was also thinking about the creative group of people I associate with, a group that could vaguely be clumped into “the people I associate with on Twitter.” This group of people are blossoming at an enormous rate, their work gracing the covers of magazines, being featured in the magazines themselves, finding their way in TV shows and generally influencing pop culture. That said it’s still a very young group of people with no defined name, only a sense that we’re united by our tastes and interests. It’ll be interesting when this group of people begins to change, when more of them get tired of their old style and begin to experiment and create work that’s unfamiliar to those who know it.

The only people I can think of who’s changed their focus over the last 10 years or so is Tim Biskup and Shepard Fairey. Both have had quite a deal of success early on in their career for one particular style but have then grown and had their work shift it’s focus and become even more successful because of it. I can’t think of many other people who’ve been able to do the same thing.

These are just some random thoughts I had. Any contributions or similar ideas left in the comments are warmly welcomed.


8 Comments The Safe or the Untravelled

  1. Kjell-Roger December 1, 2010 at 12:08 AM

    I think this is an rather interesting topic and one that will continue to make artists hair go grey just a tad faster for as long as we live.

    In Mark Weaver’s case it’s a though one. He has rosen to fame in the design world because of his interesting work and therefor alot of others will emulate what he do. But then again most people can’t do it as good as mr. Weaver (that’s my opinion anyhow) and it is known as the “Mark Weaver”-style, which hopefully at least makes the clients go to Mark Weaver and not the ones emulating him.

    But I definitely see his point, you kind of loose the fun in what you do when everyone starts doing the same. And I think I know how it feels to take things to another style and then the client is not satisfied, it even goes so far that you lose them. It’s not fun and can surely get you demotivated.

    But I believe that Mark Weaver (yeah you made an example out of him, so I keep coming back to him) should do what he would love to do. Rather than get demotivated and tired of his own work by keeping to the style he wants to change. Maybe, pherhaps, is little by little intergration of a new style the way to go…

  2. Sunny December 1, 2010 at 4:52 AM

    I think that art is all about progression and it is good to strive for something new. And that if people are looking for the ‘Mark Weaver’ style it should be anything that is produced by Weaver. Not by Weaver in a certain style.
    Look at Music it is constantly progressing with new styles one artist breaks free and creates something new and exciting and the rest follow and copy and manipulate the style to create their own idea of the sort of music.
    Test the water first though just because you have produced something new doesn’t mean that you should give up entirely on the style you are recognised for try something new but observe the reactions you get.

  3. gemma December 1, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    re > “It’ll be interesting when this group of people begins to change, when more of them get tired of their old style and begin to experiment and create work that’s unfamiliar to those who know it.”

    Is the act of creation not an act of change itself?

    In understanding that many artists / designers / creators “crank out” their tried and true methods — could the act of repetition be an experiment in and of itself? Isn’t that what Mr. Fairey did with his original approach?

    Just some thoughts.

    Very interesting post, thank you.

  4. Tim Biskup December 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Thanks for the mention, Bobby. In this context it really means a lot. Changing is scary, but I’ve never been able to avo

  5. Tim Biskup December 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    (Sorry… Posting a reply via iPhone was clunky and I accidentally posted before I was done. Anyway…) it. I have to follow what interests me or I loose the energy that I want. I can see when that energy is no longer there. It’s hard to let go of something that is paying the bills and getting you praise.

    Really great post, Bobby. I can tell that this is very personal and important to you. Thanks!

  6. Jeremy December 1, 2010 at 11:41 AM

    I got here through Tim Biskup’s tweet. I think he’s a good example of your point. I write about artists, and this issue comes up a lot. I’d add Dalek/ James Marshall to your list of artists who’ve made significant stylistic changes in the last decade. Good post.

  7. tibere December 1, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    A change in style should be progressive and feel natural, it should not be forced. I love Mark weavers stuff, I just hope that his transition to a “new style” will be gentle.

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