Many of us are grateful to have had parents, or teachers, or loopy caretakers who encouraged us to draw outside the lines the moment our motor skills were developed enough to fumble with a crayon. It was something of a battle cry for the Free to Be You and Me set, but more of an old saw for succeeding generations, who were often prompted to draw outside the lines before fully grasping what a line actually was. Or is. They don't change much, which is its own sort of comfort. Our lives might not be in shambles as a result of the rampant creative coddling, but it seems fair to say that there's a squiggliness to them, little quagmires of conflicting urgencies. We wear our neuroses like holographic Girl Scout badges, spectral relics that attract similarly smudgy people into our already-porous circles. Things get messy, or messier.
The Open Daybook, a new creation by David Earle, is comforting in its capacity to unclutter one's days utilizing generally unseen angles of attack. Over the course of a year, 365 artists were assigned a date and asked to make a work of art on that day. The resulting anthology could stand on its own, but is intended to be used by its respective owners as a hybrid of a canvas and a calendar. A launch at LACMA and exhibition at LACE kick off the Daybook's dispatch. We recently had the good fortune to speak with David about his paper animal. Let's hear about the inception of the idea.
Well, I was walking down the street and it popped into my head. Probably connected to a lot of random sub ideas that had been bouncing around and finally coalesced. I was thinking a lot about artist's journals and sketchbooks at the time and their daily practice. But also the way we all keep records, and how those documents are beginning to disappear. So I liked the idea of bringing some permanence to the "moment in flux."
Tell us how your involvement in other mediums influenced the project, and where you're coming from, creatively and/or otherwise.
How to answer. Well...for a long time I was a writer by trade but not necessarily avocation, or at least not exclusively. Other mediums have always been barking at me, (I was one of the class "drawers" until high school, but it got away from me). I did a lot of sound design for film and theater at the same time as writing, but ironically it wasn't until I was in the writing program at CalArts that I started seriously getting back to tangible practices - mostly sound art installation and video. I've always been a secret drawer, but rarely put it out in public and I think part of the book project came from wanting to get back to putting images on paper.
After the initial idea, how did you choose the folks to involve? What was the process like?
Luckily the idea hit in November so I had a month and a half jump on lining up artists. Because a key constraint was that the work had to made on the assigned date, I had to always make sure I was at least two weeks ahead w/ lining people up. I started with the people I knew personally whose work I admired and thought resonate with the project. I asked Daybook artists to suggest other people and from there, when the project began to gain momentum and we had a publisher I could cold contact people I had less than two degrees of separation from.
Why do you think so much drawing happens in secret?
Well, there's the secret drawings that all artists make when developing a project, trying out ideas, or even doodling. I'm a bit obsessed with doodling although for some reason the word bothers me so I call it "distracted drawing." Work that is never intended for display or publication but still has the seeds of ideas and the beauty of the handmade. Work that exists somewhere between ephemera and public expression. I initially thought I would capture a lot of moments like that in the book.
But of course sometimes the artists wound up making much more developed and carefully wrought (is that the right word? I think so) work, even if it was made in less than 24 hours, which was a wonderful surprise.
How much of a part did the changing of seasons, months, and specific days-- holidays and such-- affect the work that you received?
That played a big role. I loved seeing the year develop over time. It's almost as if I was experiencing two years - my own and the one that came out of all these wonderful artist's imaginations.