As well as being a writer, I am a fashion designer, and I also make art. In short, I am a storyteller.
One creative discipline feeds off and intertwines with the other until the story is told.
Writing can be an art form, and more than just a means of communicating a story or message. Take any work by Shakespeare, Hilary Mantel, Donna Tartt, Kate Tempest, or any Man Booker or Nobel prize winner for example, or who take words and their rhythm, to the highest possible level, and make it ART. Likewise, paintings or sculptures can tell a story, take the work of Frida Kahlo (the upcoming exhibition at the V&A in June is highly anticipated), or Hieronymus Bosch, Rossetti, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Goya…the list is endless.
Painters and sculptors often become authors, and vice versa, authors become painters and sculptors. Audrey Niffeneger (The Time Traveller’s wife), is an accomplished painter, Patti Smith dabbles in illustration. William Blake, William S. Burroughs, even Sylvia Plath, were all authors AND creators of visual art. The Bloomsbury group collectively blurred the lines between art, writing, and philosophy, with Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell being the best known amongst them.
However, there are more literal, visual examples of mixing the mediums of words and art. There are no rules to say just because you work in one art form, you shouldn’t explore the other.
I recently stumbled upon an exhibition of the work of artist Jim Dine, at the George Pompidou Centre in Paris. (I was there to look at something else). He is a painter, a sculptor, and a poet. I’d seen some of his work before, but never his writing, and now that I have, I’ll admit to being slightly obsessed… His use of words is an extension of his paintings and sculptures; expressive and energetic, in large scale, handwritten, and unafraid to try anything.
Jim Dine, Visions
Since then, I’ve been looking at artists who use words in their paintings since, like this one by Marcel Broodthaers, Le Corbeau et la Renard, 1968, also in the Georges Pompidou.
John Baldessari, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art
Anairb Black, We Are Made of Words
Fashion designers create ‘stories’ through collections, Alexander McQueen (my favourite example), Valentino, Gucci and Dries van Noten, to name just a few. There are of course a million different examples of slogans, and ‘memes’ emblazened across chests, although these are more messages, advertisements, or personal statements, rather than stories, but they state which fashion ‘tribe’ you belong to.
Gucci, Spring 2018
Balenciaga, Spring 2018
Mary Katrantzou, Autumn Winter 2018
Words on a page, on the wall, or on your back. Words are powerful. Words are ART.