What are your rules about rules?


Jenny spied one artist’s rules written on a scrap of wall

The building was filled with art, but these rules scrawled on a broken piece of sheetrock were the thing that caught my eye: Don’t waste time. Stop doubting your capabilities. Make something every day.

They seemed like good rules for a year of submission.

I was touring the studios of graduate art students at The University of South Carolina when I saw them. The rules were in the work space belonging to a young woman who was assembling a huge collage of hundreds of small photos, a work that told some kind of story, I’m sure.

photo collage

This USC graduate art student is assembling her photos into some sort of sophisticated collage

To make the piece, she not only photographed the scenes but also mounted the photos on blocks of wood that she’d sanded and painted. I overheard her say how tired she was of burnishing.

I’m assuming these are her rules. Despite the overwhelming amount of work required, she appeared to be getting her huge project done.  The images were intriguing. I would love to see it when it’s completed.  I admire her determination.

But much as I want to 1) Have a plan, 2) Stop doubting, 3) Make something every day–as soon as I make rules, the rebel in me rises up. I don’t like rules.

But I do like a lark, a joke, a project, a dare. And I do think how you package something counts. (We can blame that on too much time spent working in advertising.)  So it makes me think that our Year of Submission is just rules (or a rule) disguised as something else.

Let’s be sure not to tell me.

I wonder how other people feel about rules and getting work done. Do they help? Or something else?

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