July 24, 2009
Should I keep my creative bits & bobs?


The most difficult part of ruthless kipple pitching is deciding what to do with my creative output. I have stacks of drawings and suchlike stretching back over a decade. Part of me says “This is your precious personal history - you can’t just throw it out.” Another part of me says “Not all of this history is worth recording, so you should edit it down to a handful.” The part holding the trash bag says “Argh, who cares? Just let it go. Remember it fondly later, if you can.”

I want your advice. If these were your things, what would you do?

Sketchbooks - there are some drawings in them that are reasonably good, or at least remind me of what I was looking at or doing at the time. Lots of ideas for bigger projects end up in these books, too. But at least half of my average sketchbook is crap - warmup drawings, bored sketches done while waiting, testing out new materials, trying to improve a bad mood through art therapy. These pages have little to offer me now.

a) Keep all the sketchbooks as is - the context of the pages is important even when the drawings are not.
b) Slice out the interesting pages and file them in a new place; toss the remainder.
c) Pitch them all - you are not a real artist and this output isn’t valuable to you or anyone else.

8mm films - I made these in a film class in 1996. I liked them then and the class informs my editing to this day, but haven’t seen the films in a long time as I have no projector.

a) Keep them because you made them and the originals show your tape edits and lots of hidden detail.
b) Keep them for raw material - turn them into jewelry or another project.
c) Digitize them somehow, get them online, then toss the original films.
d) Pitch them all - they are uninteresting student films.

Print blocks & proof prints - I have several dozen of my old lino print blocks. They could be used again someday. Some of them are cute or clever; some not so great. Others were part of a show I did a long time ago. I also have proof prints (& some final prints) of them that remind me of my slow progress as a print-maker.

a) Box them all up and store them somewhere in case you want to print them again.
b) Test print all the blocks. Keep the decent ones; toss the rest along with the old proofs & prints
c) Pitch them all - they are just collecting dust and taking up space.

Travel journals & mementos - On our first long visit to Japan then again in Singapore, I kept visual diaries of our experiences. There are other journey-specific sketchbooks, the most recent being from Adelaide last summer. In addition, I have a few purchased or found mementos that I hang on to as travel souvenirs.

a) Keep the journals and the mementos because they bring refresh memories of your trips.
b) Release the mementos but keep the drawings and journals.
c) Pitch them all - keeping them is like showing your friends a vacation slideshow - boring.

I want to hear your suggestions and ideas. Do any of my solutions seem right? What would you do?

Posted by kuri at July 24, 2009 10:52 AM


Perhaps consider taking digital photos of the paintings or drawings that you would otherwise throw away?

Posted by: Gen Kanai on July 24, 2009 04:04 PM

That’s a really tough one - to throw or not to throw.
Having just having had to reduce my life into 2 cubic metres, i threw or gave away a LOT. I was pretty ruthless.
And do i regret it? No. Not at all.

BUT, i am worried that i threw away something that i may need in the future or it was more important than i thought originally. Still don’t know if there is such a thing though…

Posted by: MissSin on July 24, 2009 04:41 PM

I had all my 8mm films from the 60s digitized two years ago. It didn’t improve the image quality, it was too far gone, but I am glad I did. For just a moment I had toyed with the idea of throwing it all away since I didn’t even have a functioning projector anymore. Digitizing was well worth the money, I think, and I am so glad I still have the films to look at.

Posted by: Michael on July 30, 2009 12:04 PM

Keep it. It is who you are.

Posted by: mss @ nipponDAZE on August 8, 2009 11:35 AM

Hmmm. I agree with Gen about taking digital pics of them. How about a project where you make a story about your art life using examples of what you have created together with a narrative for them (as examples and best of of the medium, genre or idea you were working with), kept those originals that are part of the narrative and threw the rest out (perhaps after digitising it). The size of the box you are willing to put the finished story in will help you limit the narrative.

Posted by: j-ster on August 14, 2009 05:38 PM

I would keep them. After i graduated uni if i was ever going through a creative slump it was always nice to look back and surprise myself with what i was capable of. Look through it, do you think its good… keep it.

Posted by: Anneka on October 23, 2009 03:43 AM
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