Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gothic Art Questionnaire

A few months ago I received a request from a student seeking to interview me for a project on which she was working. She had seen my work in Gothic Art Now and wanted to ask me some questions about the genre. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an expert on the subject nor do I feel that all of my work would fit comfortably within the genre, but I do like to be helpful. Since sending her my responses I have not heard anything so I hope they were able to be of some use to her.

1. What is gothic art?

Historically speaking (if my memory of Art History classes serves me correctly), Gothic art was produced during a certain time period in medieval Europe, although it has had its more recent revivals. It is nestled loosely between the Romanesque period and the Renaissance. Although contemporary Gothic culture is associated primarily with darkness, one of the main innovations in Gothic architecture was the use of large stained glass windows to allow radiant, colored light to stream into the buildings.

When the term "Gothic art" is used in reference to modern work, it typically involves a link with the current Gothic subculture, although one can definitely see allusions to historical Gothic art in the contemporary variety. The modern Gothic subculture arose in the early 1980s and likely derived its title from associations with the nineteenth century literary genre which includes such pivotal novels as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula rather than the earlier Germanic people. Contemporary Gothic art draws upon the same themes that fascinate and inspire other aspects of the subculture: namely an appreciation for darkness in its literal and metaphoric senses. Gothic art, in my opinion, seeks to explore the beauty, meaning, and occasionally humor in aspects of our existence that mainstream society often derides or ignores, for example death, solitude, decay, mourning, etc.

2. What mediums can be used?

I do not believe Gothic art can or should be limited to any particular media or even style. To me, the designation of Gothic comes about in reference to the subject matter and imagery depicted or the emotional response elicited by a piece — whether it is a photorealistic representation, highly stylized image, or a nearly abstract work is really irrelevant to me.

3. What prompted you to get started in this type of art?

I've been creating art since I had the motor skills to hold a crayon, and although it was not until later in my childhood that I became aware of the Gothic subculture, there have always been darker motifs throughout my artwork. Once I became more familiar with the current Gothic scene, I did begin to consciously draw more upon it artistically. While I'm content with my work being labeled as Gothic since I certainly have strong sympathies with both the modern subculture and the historical style, I do not consider my work to be limited to the umbrella of Gothic art.

4. On average, how much do you make with your art?

Honestly, I do not make very much at all with my art at the moment. I have a full-time job in an unrelated field which pays the majority of my bills and which allows me to have health insurance. My artwork is primarily for my mental, emotional, and spiritual but not financial well-being. However, I would like to start moving towards making art more into a career in addition to being my personal calling.

7. How long has gothic architecture been around?

Gothic architecture was believed to have been initiated in France in the middle of the twelfth century. The term "Gothic" later became applied to the style because it was a distinct break from the classically influenced architecture that dominated the scene just as the Goths, a Germanic people who invaded southern Europe, brought about the end of Roman civilization.

8. Where are the best avenues to display your art?

One of the best and most accessible means to display one's art is via the internet. The exposure that you can gain with a personal website or through collective online galleries can be wonderful and very extensive. I also really enjoy seeing my work in print (books, magazines, etc.) although it's harder to gauge a direct response from an audience with print media than digital media. Traditional brick-and-mortar galleries and art/craft shows are also great venues although the scope is smaller.

9. Do you create gothic art for your own sake or for other people?

I create my art for my own sake, although on occasion I do accept commissions.

10. What is the best way to make your name be known?

The answer to this question is directly tied to my response to question number 8. Displaying your work is the best way to make your name known in the context of the art world. I also recommend participating in art-related forums, groups, and associations to learn from more experienced artists and make to make valuable connections.

11. What types of emotions are involved in creating this type of art?

In my own experience, pensiveness and curiosity tend to be my primary emotional states when creating art, but I'm sure it varies greatly for other artists.

12. What types of gothic arts appeal to which groups?

I suppose that it would go without saying that I imagine Gothic art appeals to those who identify as Goths or who have a preference for a darker aesthetic. There seems to be a wide audience for certain cutesy/creepy Gothic art among young adults. Beyond general statements though, I'm not sure of the demographics.

13. How has gothic art evolved/progressed over the years?

I'm certainly not an expert on the genre of Gothic art, but my observation is that it seems to have extended its scope beyond just sexy black-clad vampires with too much eyeshadow and the Grim Reaper. There seems to be a deeper and more thoughtful examination of the themes occurring, and a realization that in order to have a real visual and emotional impact, artwork cannot just be dark or creepy or horrifying for frivolous reasons but because those attributes or imagery serves the overall goal of the piece. I believe there is now a larger pool of accepted "Gothic" symbols and imagery to draw upon than existed in the past and there is a greater sophistication in their use.