Why Make Art in Series?

If you make art for yourself and no one else, then make whatever you want. If you make art for the rest of us and you're interested in having us appreciate and understand what you're up to, you better make it in ways that give us a fighting chance to figure it out. You understand your art perfectly because you're the one making it, and you know yourself, and your inspirations and motivations exceptionally well. The rest of us, on the other hand, either don't know you that well or don't know you at all, which means we need help deciphering what your art is about. So help us.

Now the easiest way to do that is to work in series-- to create unified, cohesive, coherent, related bodies of work. Many artists aren't fully aware of the advantages to creating multiple works of art around the same idea, theme, philosophy, concept, topic or subject matter. Instead they produce what I call "onesies" or "whatever strikes my fancy today." Their typical approach goes something like this-- "I'll make one of these, now I'll make one of these, then I'll make one of these," and so on and so forth, resulting in a largely unrelated incoherent hodgepodge of work (that the artist may understand perfectly well, but unfortunately not the viewers). To make matters worse, they often present everything together and in no particular order other than perhaps chronologically on their websites, image pages, social media pages or in their studios with little or no organization or explanation, as if to say, "Here's my art; you figure it out." But that's another article.

The problem with the "I make whatever I feel like making whenever I feel like making it" approach to art is that when everything is different and there's no common thread, it's difficult for us to get a grip on where you're going, what you stand for, what your art is about. Viewers try their best to sift through everything and make sense of it, but if no clear order, pattern or intent is evident, they basically give up. When each consecutive piece is different from all those that precede it, viewers have to start fresh with every new image, resulting in a start, stop, start, stop, start, stop process of trying to understand every one from scratch, and then trying to figure out how they all fit together with the rest. That's not only time consuming and labor intensive, but it's also difficult, confusing and in many cases, ultimately exhausting.

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