encouraging the unconscious mosh

fill your head and allow it to stew…

by Art Chantry (art@artchantry.com)

This is actually a postcard (!) I received in the mail way back in the mid-1980′s. It’s made of xeroxed plastic, foil stars, sales tags, rubber stamps and other assorted crap. It was sent to me by an amazing collage/montage artist/designer Richard Kehl (pronounced “keel”). I don’t know whatever became of him. he was an astonishingly talented and inventive collagist. I’ve completely lost track of him, but I hope he’s still active and just as crazy.

He taught at the university of washington for a long time (but i’ve never met a person who ever took a class from him. so, I don’t know if this is true). he had connections to Push Pin studios and counted Milton Glaser as a friend. he was well connected and eccentric. and he was devilishly handsome. he always had the most beautiful cool glamourous women surrounding him.

I once had the opportunity to visit his home. it was rental in seattle’s u-district, and old turn of the century two-story craftsman affair. a beater in the university of washington’s ‘student slum’ district.

AC: i've found that 'distraction' is the best thing i can do to be creative. basically, the creative process happens in that part of the brain that isn't 'conscious'. you really don't so much 'think' about creating something as it just sort of comes out as you work. i i compare it to driving a car: when you drive a car, you don't really THINK about driving (hit brakes, signal right, turn steering wheel, looks for traffic left, look for traffic right, etc. etc.) you're actually THINKING about what you want for dinner, or something on the radio (music, politicians, etc.) o=r you're rehashing what you should have said to the bass that morning. stuff like that. but, you're NOT thinking about driving. yet, you are driving beautifully. how is that possible? we don't even question the driving phenomenon, yet we seem to think that we need to have conscious "in the front of your brain" ideas to create an image. but, it really doesn't ork that way at all. so, i use distraction (like listening to music) to actually DO the creation of my work. i just let that unconscious part of my brain that does the creative stuff take over my hands. it's just like when i let that unconscious part of my brain that drives take over my car.

The thing I remember most was that every single room in his house was completely lined with big tables, as if every bedroom and workspace in his home was a large work area. carefully spread over every square inch of this immense open space of table surfaces were literally thousands upon thousands of carefully extracted (cut out) images of the subjects he loved to work with. for instance, I seem to remember he had an entire bedroom full of little color images of birds – all cut out from books and photos. they were spread like candy over the entire table tops and filled the entire room. he referred to this bedroom as “the bird room’. other rooms had similar private titles as well. It was a stunning thing to wander through.

Memory of the loss of wings.Richard Kehl. Read More:http://www.richardkehl.com/image-39.htm

Apparently his modus operandi, his method. was to gather images and place them in view and think about them. It was like his personal universe that dwelled in as he concocted his collages. he’d had his main work table with the project under way and he then would wander around the house staring at images spread everywhere and think about them. I imagine him wandering the house late at night in the semi-darkness staring at hundreds and hundreds of birds, placing them in his mind into the statement that his picture was to make. It was fascinating to think about. more like performance than art/craft.

I often do the same thing with my approach to concocting my imagery. I get into a zone and start to look at stuff and think about it. I often refer to it as ‘filling my head with crap and allowing it to stew.’ I look at books and clip images and old records and objects and every imaginable visual.

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Read More:http://www.chroniclebooks.com/index/main,book-info/store,books/products_id,3714/title,Put-on-a-Happy-Face/

As time has gone on, I rely less upon the visual and now include ‘non-visual’ reference to my ‘mental stew’ – music, radio, novels, movies, television, my yard, anything. I use everything in my collage/montage approach to design.

I think this is true graphic design, this process. the mind works in an unconscious mosh. the more fuel you add to that fire, the better. the mind ‘creates’ on it’s own if you give it enough time. when I sit down to actually build the piece at hand, the ideas are sitting there ready to come out of my hands.

Does this happen to you?

We Are Asleep With Compasses In Our Hands. Read More:http://www.richardkehl.com/image-05.htm

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