The UK education system is task driven, geared to outcomes and exams. Yet humans exist in constant process. It is a rare occasion when there to be an outcome in life that is not the start of a new journey or process.  

The Artistic Process

For many, if not all conceptual artists, ‘process’ is what is of interest. Rarely is an artist motivated by a final piece of work.  The process is one of the most difficult aspects of the artists’ character to understand.

For non-artists it can cause real frustration.  It is the obsession with a process that makes artists different from the majority. Generalising, the population are always task or outcome driven

It is through process that we innovate and invent. It is the same for social innovation, scientific discovery and engineering feats. The Arts are instrumental to human progress.   

Debatable?  Of course!  Wrong? Certainly not!


Haphazard Business will compare these two quite separate ways of engaging the World. The blog seeks to reveal how everything is only part of an ongoing process. Society operates within a constant process and rarely reaches a final outcome.  

John Mc

Photo: Surreal Doorway (Dali | Cap Roig a Castell) by John McKiernan ©2018 | All rights Reserved 2022

4 thoughts on “ARTISTIC PROCESS

  1. Issues that come to mind re: artistic process are many: – drive, resources, space, time, environment, finances, influences, knowledge, physical/psychological state, interests, abilities, emerging/existing technologies, culture, gender and so on. Some people may view these factors as opportunities others as restrictions.

    Seems there is rarely any proper completion, just one thing leads to another to another – gradually building a bigger matrix that is never completed. Although sections of the matrix can be finished i.e. a gallery exhibition of your work – this is merely a part that feeds into the whole. And others can and do feed into this network which keeps things mutating, evolving and expanding.

    1. Thanks Darren, as an artist I am not surprised by your comment here, but I wonder how it would be read by a non-artist. This idea of feeding the whole might help explain the way artists view their work and the world generally, each piece is just part of a life’s work? For the non-artist, doing ‘everyday’ work, tasks might be seen more in isolation or as a silo job, with little or no consideration of the whole. John M

  2. I wonder how this consideration has lead over the intervening months?
    I can see how process and tasks might be interchangeable for many people, whether they are involved in artistic practice or not. The tasks are the most easily identifiable aspects of a process Where as it is often difficult to comprehend the underlying process and actual thinking behind it, it is much easier to identify steps taken across a period of that process, and then infer a particular rational or thinking behind them.

    I encountered this a lot in the process of music education, where for example we had to learn to analyse the techniques used by a composer in particular works, develop an understanding for specific “rules”, and then composer in that style, a process that would have been completely alien to the composers who we were studying. It reduced a process of composition into a series of tasks, and I think killed off a lot of peoples interest in creating new music.

    I guess my suggestion is, reflecting on the points in your post, that many people who work with in certain fields of the arts (and particularly music) have been and continue to be educated to be task driven, regardless of the fact that they are often engaging with things that are a fragment of a larger process, and understanding a musical work fully means trying to comprehend the process, which goes beyond simply understanding the details of a composer/artists life events (which may be affected, or affect the process).

    1. Thanks Dan for comment. In answer to your first hypothetical question, although a hub (or hubs as it has turned out) have been secured, it feels like it is just a staging post. Not reaching conclusion of ‘an idea becoming a reality’. What was/is the hub?

      A new chapter is opening, how am I to build the space, what will it look like, how will I attract people? Each of these will have different tasks attached but all feed some bigger vision, more in my head than written here, although I am trying to keep my thoughts and ideas (see keywords) as open as possible.

      I am in total agreement with your next point, process and tasks often become intermingled, and usually because of conflicts of time and demands of different aspects of life. Little or no overarching assessment is made of what is the mission, the aim, the goal, the point! Educationist drum home the need to complete tasks, even when the teacher he or herself hate the regime.

      I am unsure whether it is tasks that have killed off the process of music making for many people. My feeling in relation to your point is that it has created a kind cultism around music, people seem more interested in the artist’s personal life than in the music. I love when unknown pub singers, support acts or randoms performing early doors at festivals blow the crowd away, yet no one in the audience have the first clue who they are watching/listening to. The audience just becomes mesmerised by the performance, without any processing of the performer/s personality, who they are married to, where they come from, or the size of their breakfast bowl? It only about the performance, the audience lets go of thinking of tasks and become enveloped within the artist’s process.

      Everything is a fragment of larger fragments, and recognising this does allow a certain amount of freedom and acceptance. Completing a task can produce a satisfaction, whether painting the garden fence or finally completing the tax return (which many in UK understand at this point of the year). However, the garden will continue to grow and die as it always has, and taxes will continue to build up again as they always have, all is just a task in a much longer process called life. JM

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