Tokesplace Presents:

Analysis of Michael Platt’s Creative Process

9 Jan

I am fascinated by the creative process. In my former incarnation as a patent lawyer I was deeply involved as an observer, participant and catalyst in the process. From this experience I see the process as comprising the broad steps of:

1. Preparation,

2. Incubation,

3. Illumination and

4. Implementation

The steps are seldom sequential. Each step informs the other steps. The steps are not necessarily categorized in the mind of the creator. Often implementation becomes preparation, and/or incubation and/or illumination for a subsequent project. The same can be said for each step of the process. Creators often loop back and forth between and through the steps. In fact there is no distinct demarcation between steps. One fades into the other.

As a member of an arts organizations I have observed musicians using the process to create new music. I have heard jazz musicians compress some elements of the process in real time through improvisation.

I enjoy visual arts as much as I do music. Esthetically sometimes I think they are essentially the same thing at a spiritual level. Poetry is a recent interest stimulated by collaborations between visual artist Michael Platt and his wife poet Carol Beane.

I have never had a close up view of how a visual artist or poet implement the process. Michael and Carol kindly allowed me to interview them to help me understand their respective processes. I am grateful.

This posting is about Michael’s process. I will examine Carol’s process in my next post. Then I will examine the process in the context of their joint art book projects.

Michael is in his own words an image maker. His peers say he is “bad.” They are enthusiastic about the high level of creativity evident in his images. Check out for his resume, extensive list of shows, institutional and private collections that include his work and current portfolio of his images. You will be impressed. Google him to read what many art lovers and galleries say about his work and information about his upcoming shows.

His creativity is highlighted by the following images taken from his web site.

This is Under Water. I have a copy in my collection. According to Michael this image came together for him when he positioned the window showing water above the models head.


The Sun Day

The Black’s House on South Salsedo #2

For me his images are surreal – dream like, sometimes lyrical, sometimes disturbing and often mysterious, suggesting some combination of despair and joy, sometimes nightmarish – always spiritual and mostly beyond words. Since the images are presented without a narrative I may not get Michael’s intended meaning. However I usually find my own spiritual reasons that are beyond words.

My analysis of the interview with Michael suggests that his creative process conforms to that stated at the beginning of this post.

According to my understanding of the interview, Michael feels that his creative process begins when he decides on the feeling he wants to convey. He then works toward achieving that feeling using his regular state of the art tools and techniques. Those include painting directly on female models, photographing the models, and digitally collaging the photographs with multiple images obtained during prior preparation steps. Some trial and error is obviously involved otherwise there is no art – just mechanics.

Michael pushes boundaries. This often requires invention. Invention requires more trial and error that produces new knowledge and new tools. That new method, tool or technique then becomes part of his tool kit as a known way of achieving a certain result. To that extent trial and error may be reduced when executing future projects. In these activities he is engaged in the illumination and implementation steps of the process.

Michael’s description of the inception of his creative process omits the preparation (studying, traveling and photographing) he does prior to deciding on the “feel” he wants. It omits the mental incubation of that preparation that leads to the decision to portray that certain feeling.

Whether he recognizes that his creative output conforms to some process is not important. He just needs to keep on being the “image maker” he is.

Michael thanks for your time. Let me know what you think.

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