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  • At Summers End: An Artists' Relationship with Deadlines

    © Brian Tortora   

    It’s August and the weather slowly, slightly begins its shift.  The summer breeze, which envelops you in a blanket of warmth, surprises you with a gentle chill that nips your neck; just a small reminder that fall approaches.  With summers end the cool crisp air reminds us that classes will commence. With them the weight of deadlines, projects, essays, research and more follow.  Until one day, it doesn’t.

     When you reach the end, the glorious end, walking off stage with a certificate in hand seems like the most freeing moment. In that exact moment, we are freed from the confines of education!  Through the barely registered, though audible congratulatory cheers, you find yourself walking away from the things you once dreaded: deadlines, projects, essays, and research. But we forget that we also walk away from support, critique, guidance, and advice… 

    © Daniela Goncalves 

     Everything that we seem to dread about school while we are living in a whirlwind of information is what we miss when we find ourselves away from it. Though this might not be true of everyone, and though we night not necessarily miss it, we certainly need it. As a freelancer I need the guidelines of an assignment.  I crave deadlines, which make a once empty portfolio enriched with work. I thrive on the very foundation of school, after 22 years learning who doesn't?!

     So what do you do to fill in those essential gaps that keep the creativity and learning process going?  You start small.  You create little projects with deadlines of your own.  You would think this is a simple enough concept but you’d be surprised how difficult even this little task may be.  We think there is no punishment for lack of work. Well, no actually, if there is no work to perpetually move you forward as an artist what else is there?

    And so, in order to bring myself back to the rigid ways of educational deadlines, Brian and I came up with a plan.

    © Brian Tortora

    Brian Tortora of and I decided to engage in a structured competition.  This wasn’t elaborate.  We kept it simple.  We agreed to go out after a snowstorm and take pictures. 

    We went beyond going out and taking images, we made it more challenging by creating guidelines.  Firstly, we agreed to make it a competition where a winner would be declared.  And our guidelines were as follows:

    We each chose one category: reflection and door
    We had 30 minutes to shoot.
    We would take separate cars.
    When the clock ran out we would head back to headquarters to edit.
    Where we then had 30 minutes to transfer files, make the edits and process.

    And so we did just that.  Some odd weeks ago we posted the images and asked for votes.  Most might have glanced at the pictures and some willing participants voted! Which was incredibly encouraging.  This small task is fulfilling enough to keep us moving forward and to keep us creating new work.  Now, onto the next project.  

    © Daniela Goncalves

    As for the winner, Brian won most votes for the door image and we both tied for the reflection.  

    **I'd love to hear suggestions!  Email me with any!