It might be pure accident that the word Cure is in the word Curation.
No it is no accident.
Curation is the only cure for information overload.
In the digital age, everyone can be a content curator. Regardless if you collect art on deviantArt, favorite illustrations on Altpick or if you are on Twitter. You don´t need to make up tweets on your own, you can re-tweet someone else’s content as long as it reflects your opinion.
The free magazine app Zite for example, allows users to accept or reject content and lives from users who actively curate what they want to see. It begins with social media and tends to become a soft skill for creative professionals on a global scale.
In times where we don´t have to reinvent the wheel, the winner is the one who can rearrange the wheel in the fanciest way imaginable. You´ll know it by now: the emphasis of this post lies on the content curation; not the job of a curator. We still need the curator and digital content curators who are not artists but the new gatekeepers, hobbyists and professionals alike. As an art creator, people believe your task is to create new works of art on a regular basis.
But this only reflects half the truth. The lesser known fact is that 50% of his/her time, a successful creator is also curator of their own content. Every feedback, critique or sale leads to knowledge that consciously or unconsciously, goes straight into a new work of art.
Curation as part of the creation process allows an artist to pull from past experiences and from failure to create something new and original in the future. A curator – as professional person who only curates the work but does not create art – can trace the progress and make up wild speculations of the future work and value of a particular artist.
Seeing trends, influences and reminiscence is an asset, ignoring that is a risk.
Collecting reference images, illustrations and artworks of other artists is always a good start. When done digitally it can be a good exercise to categorize, label and sort these digital copies. Any illustrator working with references for a project does this, combining different resources to create something new towards a given briefing. In the best case this includes your own work.
As creator it is easy to observe progress from any existing body of work/oeuvre, opposed to what a mathematician does.
There is a list of advantages below that artists should start thinking about:
- As part of the creation process, curation allows for a consistent oeuvre
- Curation allows an artist to find out what his/her audience wants
- It helps the creator to focus on what is important
- As part of research it also trains the eyes and nurtures the taste
- Curation allows artists to get sensible for even the tiniest flaws
- It helps to keep track of influences and inspiration in order to develop a unique style
- Curation can be helpful to find creative solutions
Actually what this intrinsic aspect in the process of creating art does, is that it allows an illustrator to be objective with his own work, to see things from an editor’s or art director’s’ point of view. As part of research and analytics, it can also help the artist to find out what style or technical solution works best for his genre. This is actual knowledge of an art director and professional curator, but this knowledge can serve the artist very well.
Sure, there are rightfully artists or illustrators who clearly deny the curation aspect. If they have an agent or manager, these people will do it for them. There is always this stage that we can never reach; being someone else. And because we will never become so objective, it is very vital to get in touch with curators around us, the people who can boil down in a few sentences what our work means to them or how they think it should be seen. No soft skill can replace true emotions.
And we can work on us accepting the feedback that comes from the heart to put it right back into our work. From there the cycle starts to repeat itself and the wheel keeps spinning.
No need to reinvent it.
Assignment for the reader:
Curate your own content for a fictional article, website or portfolio that would only allow to submit 5 images.
Which works would you submit and why?
Is there a story, is this a series, what do the individual images mean to you?
Contributed by Illustrator Oliver Wetter