One of the hardest things to do as an artist is keeping the work fresh. For many artists we will spend years sometimes even the majority of our early carrier as an artist trying to find our voice in art, but once we find that voice in art, that is not the end.
In this day of ever changing mass media, fast food, mass production and POP culture we are always looking for the bigger better thing. While that might be easy for a company that makes DVD players, it is a lot more challenging for an artist. While our work might be popular now, does not mean that people will enjoy it later endless what adapt it to the time, a current situation, or a new fresh idea.
This dose not mean to completely change what you are doing, there is no reason to go that drastic, but to merely look for new ways to express those ideas. As an example we can look at the works of Cindy Sherman. She started doing stills from movies taking the role of the person in the shot; she later did series of clowns, than different classes of people and explored various cultures. All the time becoming the subject in her work. In the last couple of years she started playing with the backgrounds in the photos to make them look like paintings. It is her ability to keep the appearance of the work and its stories fresh, which has continued to keep her work desired by collectors and museums all over.
This change is not always easy for artists. In today’s day and age it is smart for artists to have more than one form of art that they do, yet keeping within the same basic ideas or structure. This is what I was talking about earlier when I was referring to consistency in the work. One of the things I like to hear is someone say, I was at an opening and I knew it was your work. This concept of consistency in the work goes back to the early part of the Renaissance with artists like Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. It has continued through time with artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Warhol and other master artists through history. Whether it is the stork of the brush, the style in which they paint or the stories in what they tell, it is the ability for us to readily recognize their works by these consistencies that distinguish their works from others of their period of time.
So you might ask how do you keep it fresh without loosing your audience? There are a couple of ways you can try and do this. As you find your voice in art, you will hear lots of comments from friends, other artists, gallery owners, art critics, some will enjoy what you are doing, others will want you to change things, it is important that you understand that you cant please everyone, and that you know who your audience is. If you try to please everyone you will just end up producing work for everyone but yourself.
You can try to play with the idea of different materials, various subjects and even a different form of art all together, but in the end the process is all the same for finding if it fits your audience, you have to put it out there for others to view. Over time you will get better at knowing if the work that you are doing will be well received, but in the end it is all a gamble. There is no absolute when it comes to art. What people like today they might not enjoy tomorrow.