I have been thinking a lot through the past week about the past – about starting points, history, origins, influences. I’ve come to realise that I have not always fully explored the things which have influenced my art and illustration – that I have not always paid the right amount of attention that shaped the way I create, paint and draw. Not that I have tried to deny or hide my influences – not at all; but there’s a difference between keeping them stored vague, fuzzy, and loose at the back of one’s mind and actively exploring their impact on one’s current work and practice.
My influences are all to obvious in my work, I think. Someone once told me my work was the “Robert Crumb drawings of archaeological illustration”, in reference to the little chopped up, “underground comix” line-hatching I used. Actually, I think the influence was more Sheldon and Mavrides, but I know what he meant. Since then, however, I have sort of felt ambivalent about that “comix” hatching, and thought it would be a good idea to try and develop it, move away from it, pursue my own style – not look like I was entrenched in an existing one. Now, thinking about it again, I’m not so sure that was the right thing to do.
If we truly understand the creative process, the creative life as a journey, then we must be aware of our starting point. We cannot always know where we are going; we must constantly remind ourselves of where we have been. There’s no point in admitting where we started from if we don’t really use that as the basis of our future work. Yes, we grow, develop and evolve our creative abilities – but perhaps we should really look back as much as we look forward: explore our creative past as much as we explore our creative future.
After all, just because you’ve been somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean you know absolutely everything about it.