Text is Cheating

Where does text belong? It belongs in books. Words belong in books. On billboards. McDonald’s, NEXT EXIT.

There’s no room for text in “Art.” Art is for paintings and weird abstract sculptures and whatever else art is. I guess.

And I guess sometimes you can use a word here or there. Maybe a photograph with some text below it. (Lorna Simpson’s Waterbearer anyone?) Maybe even that is pushing it, according to some. Some might say that the use of text in artwork is a cop out. It distracts from the visual elements of the work. Maybe you’re really bad at painting but you smear some nice, strange words across your image and voilà, you are now good at painting because the painting is cool with those cool words.

And this is my personal, most preferred method of art-making.

My dilemma is that I cannot tear myself away from words. But just words with no imagery is boring to me. I’ve had teachers urge me to avoid using words so as to focus more on the task at hand: creating interesting visual work that speaks through the elements of design and style rather than through literal speaking.

But I have so much stupid stuff to say. Here are some examples of my work with words:



And so on. Tell me these images would be the same without words? I don’t believe it. Perhaps I am a cop out. But I am a proud cop out who has developed an artistic voice that is maybe a little louder than is perhaps ‘artistically’ acceptable. But then again, there are no rules. So I do not care.


Speaking of words, I’ll leave you tonight with these excellent patches I bought from the awesome Ball & Chain Co.:






2 thoughts on “Text is Cheating

    1. I think if text is used thoughtfully it can become a part of the work and not even viewed as text. For instance, Cy Twombly’s “Fifty Days at Iliam” incorporates text, but his brush strokes are so similar to his painting that it blends with supreme ease. In my case, I flip between this ‘seamless’ text and ‘obvious’ text (which borders on illustration or comic art). You are right, it really depends on the intent of the work. My struggle is deciding if the text is just an excuse to not try harder to convey my message visually.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.