Self portraiture / by LW

Self portrait of the artist with brown paper*, #1

Well, as you can see, I have had a productive day of procrastination by trying my hand at some self portraiture. Unexpected? I agree. This has been to the detriment of finishing designs for the tidally-driven-steel-behemoth I should have already completed. But it did start me thinking about how we present ourselves as artists, beyond our actual body of work.

I was recently asked to do an interview to feature in the graduate brochure at uni. They also asked for images of my work, and studio shots of me making. Images of my artwork I have a-plenty, but I really struggled to find images of me making (despite JSF's fantastic photography library), and in particular, ones by which I would be happy to be portrayed.

This brought about consideration of the inevitable bio shot, and how we, as artists, present ourselves when we cannot hide behind our artwork. Having to either take, or select, a bio shot to be used for any purpose is a task that I find quite daunting. How do I decide what kind of impression I want to give? Do I want to look cool, or sassy, or intelligent, or happy, or melancholy, or artistically aloof?

Last year, when asked to provide a shot for an important catalogue, I provided a standard head shot; smiling slightly, pretty boring all-in-all. I then had both JSF and MW hounding me to use a more interesting one – one shot in particular taken on a beach. I eventually gave in, and in a fit of self-confidence, provided said image to the catalogue. This image was then used for an interview I did for Artshub, and is thus now associated with my name in several places on the net. Seeing as it's already out there, I have since used it as a standard bio shot myself. And whilst I like it as an image, it still sits a little uncomfortably in that it presents a side of me that I wouldn't necessarily have shown professionally a couple of years ago. I couldn't bring myself to submit it for the graduate catalogue – I just couldn't cope with the idea of using it in a context where I have students!

Is bio shot anxiety suffered by others? Is it consistent with practices in which there is an artistic product between artist and audience? And on the other hand, does it exist for performative artists? If your face is generally a part of your artwork, do you have the same dilemma? Or do you feel more confident to have your face out there portraying your work? And how about for those of you out there who are not artists at all?

Self portrait of the artist with brown paper*, #2

*note the important reference to brown paper from yesterday's post.