Jack Martin is a young Sydney based illustrator who has just published his first book! ‘Drawn to Change: Calling For A Creative Counter-Culture’.
Jack’s book reflects his personal experience of higher education in the arts and challenges what he sees as an overly systematic and structured learning environment - one that he believes contradicts the very definition of artist and the very nature of what it means to be creative.
Jack has always been an illustrator, best known by the artistic alias JackMoney. He has just completed a degree in Creative Media and this experience inspired him to combine his illustrations with provocative personal commentaries on the art world and the arts education system.
University was a contradictory experience for me. Whilst it was a logical step for me to pursue higher education, by the end of my degree I found myself sincerely disappointed and confused! Whilst I value and accept the importance of higher education, and whilst I learnt a great deal in the process of attaining my degree, I noticed problems within the system that really troubled me.
I came up with the idea to produce an illustrated journal of my thoughts and experiences about being an artist and going to art school. I want to talk about the fact that despite having a natural talent for drawing and the benefits of a higher education, I often feel creatively uninspired.
My publishing journey began with some diary entries that focused on my feelings and frustrations about the art world and my place in it. I started making a little brochure and I just kept writing and drawing. Soon this little brochure became a book. I began approaching publishers. Admittedly I was a bit naïve! I discovered through this process that I didn’t have a proper ‘manuscript’. It was all still in Photoshop. I had to transfer it into a Word doc and also realised it needed professional editing. I found an editor in Sydney who spent a month or so doing some basic edits for me. By the time this was done I realised that self-publishing was the better way to go. This process took a couple of months and the book came out in May of this year.
‘Drawn to Change’ reflects on my experience as an artist and student. It argues that as a society we have structured and standardised learning environments way too much – especially within arts education. It argues that the arts education system ‘sets’ too many targets and goals rather than letting these targets and goals ‘evolve’. I want readers to reflect on the unique power of creativity as they read about my experiences and observations and to imagine what learning would be like if it was less structured and to imagine a world where we allow ourselves more time to experience ‘evolving’ creative practices - across the board, even in the business world.
Like most creatives, my expression comes from an intuitive and imaginative right-brain perspective. At university the creative space is more pre-determined, planned and located within a more analytical left-brain context. My once free and innocent imagination was forced down a very structured pathway. The learning environment was geared more around planned, problem-solving formulas, as opposed to free-flowing, evolving environments and experiences. Again, whilst I acknowledge the benefits of higher education, especially when it comes to getting a job, I also believe that creatives cannot truly manifest their creativity within overly planned environments or whilst focussing on the ‘business’ of being creative.
Jack believes that creativity and the arts sit uncomfortably within traditional educational formats. He argues that the creative mind can’t flourish if overly-directed and measured by pre-determined criteria and that the assignment and marking system within educational institutions, and the client driven world of a business model, negatively alters creative processes and outcomes - and the power these creative processes and outcomes potentially have.
As a creative I believe in self-discovery, experimentation, in having the time and space to explore the depths and limits of my imagination and not letting other peoples’ preconceptions of the world interfere with this creative journey. Having standardised marking criteria at schools and universities implies that everyone thinks the same way, or rather, that everyone should think the same way, which completely contradicts the inescapable subjectivity of individual experience.
In my book, I address the issues that restricted and challenged my creativity whilst at university. I offer some ideas that hopefully remind us of the simple-but-profound purpose of art. It consists of three parts. The first, addresses how the contemporary external world shapes and often restricts our creative consciousness and practice. The second, explores some experimental solutions, and the third, emphasizes the benefits of an artistic (rather than a systematic) approach to learning.
Whilst the book is targeted towards artistic people, pretty much anyone can relate to its broader themes. I firmly believe that everyone is artistic in some way and can enjoy and apply creative concepts to their lives. Creativity is everywhere we look. Every one of us is in some sense creative. It might be easier to see in some more than in others, but given the right time and circumstances, we are all remarkable at something.
You can find Jack Martin’s inspirational book at www.bookdepository.com
As a young artist… I do wonder how I will support myself given the challenges associated with becoming an independent artist, but I can’t accept living my life any other way and I would rather struggle towards reaching that goal than settle for something else. Aside from my writing, I also design gig posters, band album covers and create logo designs - for friends mostly and sometimes pubs and music venues. This kind of work is really satisfying but comes in waves: I’m either swamped with jobs or desperately searching for them! I find I have less drive to do commercial/corporate work and believe I need to find a balance between this kind of work and my own creative practice.