So, for the current Maverick theme, my warped mind thought like this:
- Go to Google. I first search for the theme word, but with my own twist. Because I am already working in a series I can add to the word Maverick any number of words that I have pre-defined as being relevant to my series. So I might Google 'Maverick Africa'.
- Know what you are looking for but keep an open mind. Again, because I have set parameters in my series I know I want to link Maverick to a human rights or human issue story. So discovering a company called Maverick which is the largest manufacturer of manhole covers in South Africa was not really exciting me. But finding that there is an African made military vehicle used in peacekeeping operations known as a Maverick had possibilty.
- Follow through. I take a possibilty and reserach it further looking for the nugget of story that makes me excited. Excitement usually comes from a story that combines a lot of issues or themes I am personally interested in, or is maybe a compelling story in its own right and which invokes an emotional reaction I want to replicate in the art. So I will re- google combinations like Maverick Peacekeeping or Maverick Soldiers until I have a fuller picture. This actually did not tell me a lot as information was scarce. The vehicle was used for crowd control at the African Soccer World Cup but thats not exciting me. So as I say this was another deadend but let's imagine I really was excited about those controlled crowds and go with it for now.
- Consider images. At this stage I leave Google and start to think about associations and images. carry this around for a short while making connections between key words and thinking of symbols that fit. Sometimes this is easy. So for Urban Myth the urban theme and orevious work made me alight on a map background very quickly. Peacekeeping though is harder. I thought about doves and guns and the like. The obvious comes first but sometimes you need to get more obscure. Well, I like obscure anyway!
- Combine themes Dead ends can be useful in suprising ways by forcing unexpected connections in your brain. The manhole covers reminded me of a quilter who would take Markel Oil Sticks on holiday and make fabric rubbings of ornate manhole covers. Which made me think about the tires of the Maverick vehicle and the possibility of rubbing the tyres on my car to get a background pattern.
- Cheat ( just a little and only if necessary) Sometimes I will allow myself to 'flash browse' Google images. By this I mean a maximum of one minute flicking through images on a search of my key words. No longer because I want only a subliminal inspiration not a formed image I then have to avoid copying or having my work be derivative of.
- Think. Now I have a range of ideas, key words and images or symbols. I find a moment when I am relaxed ( bed, bath or walking are good times) and I sort of shake them together in my brain. Without fail some fall away and some coalesce into an idea that pleases me.
- Make it Them I go to the studio and make the thing.
If when I am working or while I am waiting for the scheduled time to arrive the idea changes then thats fine with me.
So, I am interested. What is your methodology for working to a theme? Have I given enough away that you can guess what my Maverick theme is?!