Practicing : Part One

Is the work ever done?

A friend of mine got in touch last week to let me know they love my Twitter bio. Currently it reads…

Artist and consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

I thanked my friend, and noted it’s taken me ten years to write those two short sentences (good work reveals itself slowly). I can’t remember exactly what previous iterations of my Twitter bio look like, and I do know there have been several. Things change.

For a few years I wrote my bio as a credo, ‘a statement of beliefs which guide someone’s actions’. I forget the exact details of it now, but it included things like: productive beats busy, we are all artists, and something about conversations… Trust me it made more sense at the time, and when it came to the attention of a certain researcher whose work I admire, I readily admit I was pleased.

I became very attached to the credo, sticking with it for a long time, changing very little, if anything about it. Yet all the time, my work shifted and moved, because I kept practicing.

Part of the challenge that comes with labels, is knowing when to use them and when to change them. In the last couple of years I’d become stuck in lots of ways, before coming to a decision to be more intentional about letting my consulting and artistic practices overlap and inform one another. In truth that’s been happening for a while, but I’d felt reluctant to to acknowledge this publicly. Last year, Richard Martin suggested I bring my art and my consulting web sites together, which I did. Combining these two things felt odd for a while, as I suppose does anything new, yet I resisted the temptation to unwind and separate things again, and now, it just feels right. For the time being, my Twitter bio is spot on.

Meg, thank you for your note last week. I am pleased you noticed, and I wonder how long it’ll be before another change…Is the work ever done?

Part Two of ‘Practicing’ will be about how a small experiment in January 2018 is growing into one of my most important bodies of work.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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