i make art

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Are these my three favorite words? Well they are today.

I have trouble with naming favorites as many have trouble not saying that everything is their favorite.

What do I mean – I make art? Am I being arrogant? Am I naive? Am I presumptuous? Am I just lost?

Perhaps. You decide.


I will say art is not limited in its definition. Most things that are thought of as art, are in fact not at all.

It can be the way the cashier at the grocery store engages with us as we check out our items, it can be the plumber that wipes every soldered copper joint when they’re not even seen after the wallboard goes up, it can even be the marker scribble a dad puts on his daughter’s lunch bag to make her smile at school. We fill museums with objects that may be art (often debatable), yet if we engage a bit more with people, we might just see art in places anywhere BUT a museum.

I have always wanted to be an artist and when I decided as an 11-year old kid that I wanted to be an architect, I believed that I was not saying no to the drawing and illustration I had done for leisure, I was just going into a career that had more promise, was more satisfying and found that we would later be able to occupy that which I “made.”

For me, ‘art’ is my way of expressing myself in a language more comfortable than words. It is who I am, what I feel, what I think and how I see the world. It’s not merely the pictures, paintings or sculptures. Does that qualify? Perhaps my work will be judged someday as derivative, expected and yesterday. Some might also judge my blog and my writing as insipid drivel too. Living and practicing in a small town might mean obscurity from publications and history books. I’m OK with that. I still make art.

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We exist in a world where the gravitational pull towards mediocrity is sometimes too great to overcome. People who pull away from the norm or eschew what is popular or cool are misunderstood at best and often ridiculed. I dare say most people work because they have to, not because it gives them a medium to create art. This is why weekends and beer distributors are so popular.

Now my point today is NOT to say that the buildings and spaces I design are in fact art. They are buildings and they serve the needs and desires of my clients. My art is not making “pretty” buildings for clients. That’s not specifically the goal.

At this point, some of you might begin to wonder if I’ve been reading Seth Godin and latching onto his polemic and contemporary viewpoints. Yes, I’m reading one of his books, but my definition is a bit less pedantic that his. However, in reading one of his recent books, it finally dawned on me how I transitioned to this career and how I never left making art – it just has been redefined. Illuminated. It’s actually better.

  • Art can be words. How I talk about architecture is my art. Despite being somewhat an introvert, the three things that will get me talking your ear off are my family, Jesus and architecture. This blog is about architecture, so if you wish to discuss the former two, let’s have coffee (literally or virtually – ask Jeff). At the initial meeting or telephone call with a client I intentionally engage them in a conversation beyond their immediate needs. I want to put them at ease while whetting their appetite to go beyond mere shelter.
  • Art creates change. I cannot talk about architecture without getting wide eyed or at times worked up to a rant. It’s important to me and I’d like to think that in an emotional way, I seek to make change. Change in how others think and change that will hopefully make them better and perhaps even their project or community. Change that they can pass on to others. How does that happen? I don’t feel that’s an answer that ought to come from me.
  • Art is a gift. How I approach my work is my art. I am hired to solve peoples’ spatial, programmatic, building and functional problems through design. We agree on terms and I do the work. That is a business transaction and I do work in exchange for compensation. I use my experience as an architect to do what they’ve asked me to do. What they DON’T ask me to do is give them a gift as well as give the community a gift. I won’t simply draw what they ask me, I don’t regurgitate what they request, it goes beyond solving the program, code, budget, and even basic aesthetics. People expect architects to design on budget, code compliant, technically correct and be pleasing to look at and occupy. It’s not even ‘working hard’ – that’s a myth to deal with on another day. What is that “something else” that is not requested, not paid for, not part of the project but makes the work better – makes their life better? That is my art.

Let’s not mistake giving away free services or doing work for a lesser fee as a gift. That’s just bad business. It’s not art. Doing pro bono work can be a good thing and can really help people with our skills. However, that’s not art either. The good news is art can be made with one’s voice, one’s hands and definitely with one’s heart.

I may not be able to explain myself well. Oftentimes putting a definition on something actually dilutes it or eliminates its meaning. Some things are meant to just appreciate without rationalizing or objectifying.

Perhaps it would cease to be art and then what’s left for me to give?


Below are the three favorite words of some of my friends. Please take time to read and interact with their posts today. #architalks

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture
3 Words To Get Started

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
3 Words: Are. Blogs. Important.

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
3 Words

Marica McKeel – Studio MM
Never Give Up

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
What’s Your Story – My Three (or Four) Favorite Words

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
#ArchiTalks: I love it!

Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
Three Favorite Architectural Words

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
I Am Listening

Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects
Spirit of Optimism (my three favorite words)

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
architalk#9: my three favorite words

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC
My Three Favorite Words

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom
My Three Favorite Words (Architalks #9)

Michael Riscica – Young Architect
How’s it going… Finishing The Architect Exam?!??

My Three Favorite Words

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect
I am in

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture
The Big Idea

Eric Wittman – intern[life]
my three favorite [hardest] words

Jeremiah Russell
three little words

i make art

9 thoughts on “i make art

  1. The truth is that so many times our client don’t fully realize what gift they have received. They love the spaces we have created for them but they don’t fully understand the limits of what they have. It’s like giving a smart phone to a youngster, they make calls but never use the phone to it’s full limits. Too many times the appreciation of the spaces we have created only comes from another designer who enters the environment and smiles….they truly get what we have done.

  2. Some beautiful words here. I’d definitely agree, what you do is art, and perhaps we should work on making a world where people are more encouraged to both make art and call what they do art.

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