Accepted Paper:

Dissatisfaction: Why All Drawings are Failures  

Author:

Raymond Lucas (University of Manchester)

Paper short abstract:

Whilst a term with negative connotations, dissatisfaction is in need of rehabilitation, a feeling that the accepted wisdom or orthodoxy has something fundamentally wrong: being dissatisfied is essential to creative practice.

Paper long abstract:

This paper builds upon a remark made during a discussion between anthropologist Jen Clarke, designer Neil McGuire and illustrator Mitch Miller in 2016 (Lucas, R. Miller, M. Clarke, J. & McGuire, N.  2017.  "All Drawings are Failures" Illustrated interview transcript in Clarke, J. (Ed.), Koryu.  Aberdeen: Knowing from the Inside. Open access PDF available at: https://knowingfromtheinside.org/files/#about) when discussing our respective drawing practices. To me, my drawings continually fail to convey my full intentions, to describe everything about a context, to get things just right.

My work positions itself as a 'graphic anthropology' investigating architecture from an anthropological perspective. This is by means of drawing, diagramming and notation as well as academic writing. Each of these pursuits is plagued by a kind of creative dissatisfaction.

John Ruskin writes that drawing can be learned by anyone, but 'not without some hard and disagreeable labour'. Indeed, whilst a common perception can be that drawing is relaxing or meditative; for practitioners with a clear intention, it is often characterised by struggle and crisis.

Whilst a term with negative connotations, dissatisfaction is in need of rehabilitation. Dissatisfaction often forms the kernel of a research project, a feeling that the accepted wisdom or orthodoxy has something fundamentally wrong: being dissatisfied is essential to creative practice.

This paper discusses the process of making drawings, with an honest description of how fraught the practice can be, and how exposing it is to show drawings and other works publicly.

Panel P018
Notions of Failure in Art and Anthropology