Meet an Artist
Hiroshi Minato's Creative Process
Which are you more interested in? Going to a museum to see paintings, or going to a studio to talk about the creative process? My answer might be the latter one. In fact, my art/design friends and I always enjoy talking about creative processes, not only because we can get a better understanding of our work, but also because we generate new ideas, processes, and designs for our artistic creations. I am a jewelry designer and am delighted to share my creative processes with you. I hope it will be helpful for your future artistic creations.
I use one of two processes in jewelry making. The first is to begin by generating a mental image, a design idea which exists before I ever pick up the materials. The second is to begin with no idea at all, allowing the design to unfold as I work. Let’s talk about the former. I cut a small piece from a roll of aluminum wire and form with it using pliers, a hammer, sandpaper and other tools, according to plan. It's based on a design idea in my brain. It’s relatively fast as long as the idea is solid. But, how do I come up with these ideas? In fact, design ideas come from almost every part of my life. Sometimes good ideas come about spontaneously while I'm busy with another activity, like swimming. At other times I search for clues in my environment and the objects that inhabit them, for example, historical buildings and Zen gardens. Observing the shapes in architectural and natural forms often works well for my jewelry. They are asymmetric, yet balanced, simple, yet sophisticated. The clues exist not only in sense of sight, but in sense of touch. Going to a fabric store to touch fabrics is a great way to get new ideas about texture, which then serve as tactile inspiration for my next piece.
The latter process is very different because neither a design nor an image is needed. That is, I just cut a piece of wire and then try to feel what the piece wants to be, following the flow. This process is slower and much more interactive. Each movement is an experiment, building upon the one that came before it. It’s very enjoyable. I feel it’s a meditation. I do not expect too much for my results, but more than half of my favorite pieces were created in this way. I do not know what is happening during this process. Scientists might figure it out one day.
After creating new pieces, either by design or creative experimentation, I wait a few days before I look at them again, in order to see them with fresh eyes and check if they suit my style. If they look unique without asserting their uniqueness directly, they are totally great. When I succeed I feel that my pieces create the time and space around them.