Monday, October 20, 2008

Lester's laws

Lester Van Winkle's just about my favorite teacher of all time. One time he gave me really good tickets to a Yankees/Orioles game but I think it might've been because he knew I would wear my Red Sox cap to the game and get sqooshed by angry New Yorkers (a fate I narrowly avoided). But of course I'm kidding, he didn't love what I made or said but he wouldn't have knowingly sicked all those angry fans on me. So seriously, I love him and the hell he gave me during my time in Virginia. I'll be playing catch up with "that woman working hard in a cold Chicago basement with no windows", and I have Lester to thank for it.

Anyhoos- here's "Lester's Laws" courtesy of the devine Ms. Connie Brown--->

The following I circulate at popular request and with serious misgivings that they might be “mistook.” These advisories or faux-rules were first instituted in 1974. They were applied to a class of sophomores whose insistence on repetitious inanities, like solutions and non-thinking was awe inspiring. Out of desperation these notions were circulated to insure some modest degree of creativity, or possibly a small revolution in a class of really comfortable underachievers. Although I intended them only as beginners’ guidelines, they have become known as Lester’s Laws. These “Laws” have been widely circulated at popular request and which edition this is, is not known.

1. Do not arrive on time for this class. Be early and appear busy. Punctuality
and thrift precede cleanliness in the eyes of “You Know Who.”

2. Have ideas in your work. Mere personal expression is unavoidable, highly
overrated, and can be sloppily self-indulgent.

3. If you have no ideas, check your pulse.

4. If you have an idea (one) you are in trouble.

5. If you steal ideas, cover your tracks. Be the master thief. Do the perfect
crime. Or don’t. Be a postmodern, deconstructivist, conceptual
appropriationist. Plagiarism is in fashion. Fashion is vicious and violent>

6. Remember that in our game an idea is no better than its articulation.

7. Speak up in critiques. Ye shall be known by your words.

8. In critiques do not say, “I like.” For obvious reasons, like you’re talking mostly
About yourself . . . or whatever.

9. If you believe that criticism is only personal opinion, quit school now. Save
your money. Personal opinions are absolutely free and in infinite supply on

10. Beware of art jargon. No one knows what words like balance and rhythm

11. Believe me, there is nothing negative about space. The constructivists considered space a tangible material.

12. Never let your story be more interesting than your art.

13. Never explain your choices by what you did not want. What you did not want or intend is an infinite set.

14. Do not let American industry make the color, surface, image, proportional or scale choices in your work.

15. High tech, avant-garde or expensive traditional materials will not improve bad ideas.

16. Simple repetition never doesn’t work. Repetition, like contrast, is a visual phenomenon, not a conceptual issue.

17. Do not make things the same size without good reason. MODERN REVISION: No, do not make things the same size.

18. Do not center or divide things in the middle. The middle is such a swell place; it should always be reserved for special occasions.

19. Do not use obvious proportion ratios. 1:1, 2:1, 2:4 etc.

20. Avoid bilateral symmetry and 90 degree angles. (See special occasions.)

21. Do not arrange things that “lead” your eye in a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, cube, cone, etc.

22. If you want to use black, white, or gray, see me first.

23. Always make primary colors secondary choices.

24. Give color significant jobs to do in your work.

25. Paint all carvings, particularly stone carvings.

26. Find significant terminations for three-dimensional lines.

27. Always radically modify or rectify found objects.

28. Remove source references from found objects.

29. Make weird things. It is an artist’s job to do so.

30. Remember that all things in the same context relate. Any further similarities, connections, parallels, vectors, or threads only compound an already existing relationship.

31. The only thing worse than a bad piece of sculpture is a big, bad piece of sculpture. Even worse is a big, bad, red piece of sculpture.

32. Trust your instincts. Trust your intuition. They are your best tools.

photo courtesy of


sean said...

12. Never let your story be more interesting than your art.


Kai said...

watch yourself with words like powerful, you might detract from your aesthetic mission.

sean said...

its more or less the aesthetic experience i would be concerned with!

Kai said...

yeah, YOU're an aesthetic experience to be concerned with. (I kid, Sean's a handsome man) Did you vote pro-pork today?

sean said...

your not to bad on the eyes either Kai!. As for pro-pork i never kiss and tell.