Janet Echelman

Sculptor, Studio Director, Studio Echelman

This conversation is closed.

Creative vision -- how do you develop and hold onto it, especially when obstacles appear in your path?

Artist Janet Echelman overcame rejection and doubts to develop her methods of building voluptuous sculptures the size of buildings out of simple materials like fishnet. In this live conversation, ask questions and share your own experiences with Janet about the path to creative endeavor.

This Live conversation will open on Feb. 13th, 2012, 2 pm EST.

If you couldn't make to this Live Conversation, the discussion with Janet Echelman continues on her TEDTalk page: http://www.ted.com/talks/janet_echelman.html

  • Feb 13 2012: Hi Janet--
    The promo for your talk says that you overcame "rejection and doubts". I'd like to hear more about that. I'm an artist and I have occasional doubts, but too much rejection! How did you deal with it?
    P.S. I love your work. I look forward to to the Philadelphia piece.
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      Feb 13 2012: Shirley, I get rejections ALL the time. It's not like it stopped. Any active artist who is putting their art out there. And it is still hard. I still wince. But I try to keep going, just get back in the game. I do recover more quickly now. Sometimes I try to look at the art that I feel truly good about, not the feedback of the world, but the feedback that comes from within. If YOU like the work, then it is worth making it.
      • Feb 13 2012: Janet---Thanks for the advice! Will spend more time looking at the work and less time checking my email! :-D
  • Feb 13 2012: First time I have used one of these live conversations.
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  • Feb 13 2012: Your work is beautiful and inspiring.

    I'm curious how you source the specialists who help you with some of the technical aspects of your creations -- the aeronautical engineer for example.
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Gudrun, I often contact many people before finding the one where it really "clicks".
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      Feb 13 2012: Your question about the aeronautical engineer- Peter Heppel - is a good example. I started by asking my friend who was chairman of the engineering department at Columbia University in NYC at the time if he could recommend a doctoral student or graduate who might help me with these porous dynamically-moving forms. A couple weeks later he got back to me saying he "some good news and some bad news".
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      Feb 13 2012: Bad news was there was noone in his department or anyone he could think of, and besides, I probably couldn't afford it, because it would take someone 6 months just to get up to speed before starting to analyze my sculptural form.
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      Feb 13 2012: Good news was that he had found a software on the internet that was used for sails for racing yachts, and gave me an email in New Zealand where I could try to connect with them. I emailed repeatedly, and finally got a response saying that they no longer represented the software, but I could try emailing the man who had originally written the software, called Relax.
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      Feb 13 2012: I emailed that person, and got a response within 5 minutes asking me to dial a phone number-- that started with the same area code as mine! We were both on the west side of Manhattan. It turned out Peter Heppel (who is a British National) had come to NYC right after September 11th 2001 to work on what they then thought would need to be a tensile structure covering the site. And when they realized they would not cover the site, he was available to work on new projects. So we immediately started working together. Making hand-made net models that we hung from the top of my door in my tiny Manhattan apartment. This story could go on much longer, but that will have to wait...
  • Feb 13 2012: Apa khabar Janet. You have lived in Bali for five years, how fantastic! I wonder if the cultural experience influence your work and creative process? Do you mind elaborate also your experience in how researching on the topic (cultural) informs your art (imagination). Terima kasih.
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    Feb 13 2012: Dear Janet, thank you very much for being with us today :) My question is: how do you feel about industrial high-tech materials, as opposed to handcrafted nets, fabrics... how do high-tech materials compensate for the lack of the originality that comes with handcrafting something?
    • Feb 13 2012: That is a good question. I recently asked myself the same thing. I am trying to work on some mixed media paintings and I have questioned what I could get away with in the terms of materials. Is it acceptable to use high-grade, high-tech stuff in art? I would think so.
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Simone, I think that's a very interesting question. How to answer...
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      Feb 13 2012: I can only speak for myself. I am drawn to the idiosyncracy of hand-made things, from the way a hand-whittled chair is just slightly off center. I suppose it has to do with our human bodies, the way we are imperfectly symmetrical.
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      Feb 13 2012: I am quite interested in high-tech manufacturing methods, and most especially in the new "smart" methods where we can use digitally controlled manufacturing methods to create production which is able to constantly vary.
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      Feb 13 2012: If you've listened to "Taking Imagination Seriously" you have already heard about my work with industrial fishing net manufacturers. While I didn't have time in the TEDtalk to discuss, I'm working with many different kinds of industrial manufacturers. I'm interested in so many things, and I'm never sure which method is going to yield something interesting, so I try out alot of different avenues. I briefly mentioned the new work I'm utilizing for my commission for Philadelphia's Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall, where I'm working with industrial kanufacturers who produce mist-making machines and fans to create a new kind of art effect that combines with colored light to produce an ethereal colored "scrim". There are industrial knitting machines that can create a seamless 3-dimensional form, and I'm very excited about those possibilities.
  • Feb 13 2012: How did you overcome your confidence issues as an artist and promoting yourself out into the world? I apologize if this has already been asked! :)
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Colleen, You're the first to ask that question today, and it is a really important one.
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      Feb 13 2012: I definitely have experienced what you call "confidence issues", especially when I was younger and just starting out.
      • Feb 13 2012: Indeed, it is hard to step out and declare with full confidence "THIS IS ME!"
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      Feb 13 2012: The first thing that was important for me to overcome was to believe that it was actually better for the greater good if I was able to make my artwork, mostly because it made me happier and more fulfilled, and that would enable me to bring a positive effect to the people around me. So, even if I didn't believe at first that the actual product I was creating had any benefit whatsoever, at least I could believe that doing something I enjoyed was beneficial to others.
      • Feb 13 2012: I decided to be a photo/video guy a few years ago when I got fed up with nowhere jobs and being surrounded by an area full of people who had very little eye for art. I have been fairly successful but I really hope to make bids to do more work on a scale close to yours. I just don't know if I am good enough. My biggest success is a win for a photo contest and recognition from Scientific American Magazine. Was an amazing thing to have even that little success. It drives me when I see other people like you have struggled and overcome obstacles.
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      Feb 13 2012: And once I could truly believe that my being an artist created benefit for the "greater good", then I could speak about it and share it and ask people to give me an opportunity to make it. It's funny how even a tiny bit of inner ambivalence can de-rail a creative path.
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      Feb 13 2012: So,at least for me, the place to start was really inside myself, recognizing that even if my art had no redeeming value to the world, it was still all right to be doing it, as it was a net positive for the world anyway.
      • Feb 13 2012: I appreciate you and your response so much! Blessings :)
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      Feb 13 2012: I think the breakthrough moment f or me happened when I was reading an article by a woman who was teaching writing (I can't remember the name, or the article, so if this sounds familiar to anyone, please let me know, as I'd like to acknowledge her). She was a writing teacher and a practicing Buddhist, and she asked her Zen teacher whether her writing was for the greater good or something like that. And he responded that if she ENJOYED writing ,that was enough reason to do it.
  • Feb 13 2012: How do you stay focued on your core vision when there is so much other stimulation that can pull you away? Especially when your art has a commercial application to it, it seems so many trends and client demands can be distracting and you find yourself, little by little, drifting from your core vision.
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Dennis, You have pinpointed a big challenge for me. It's really hard to stay focused on my core vision. I keep asking myself what was the kernel of inspiration that got me started, and I keep asking myself if what I have at the current state of a project is still true to that original kernel of inspiration.
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      Feb 13 2012: Dennis, the issue about commercial applications adds another layer of complication. As best as I can, I try to keep the commercial issues out of my creative process. I sometimes need to acknowledge the commercial aspects by saying it out loud, and then give myself permission to ignore them for awhile so I can go back into free flow of ideas.
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    Feb 13 2012: i do mind maps on essays in anthropology. i think visualizing things makes things easier to understand! some of those social anthropology essays were complex and putting things into perspective with themes and artwork helped me remember all those essays from back then to this day! here i'll upload one...
  • Feb 13 2012: Janet, I am one of the people who were really inspired by your TED talk.
    Actually, instead of telling my idea about this question, I was wondering if I could get your advice:)

    Right now, I am in a quite difficult situation.
    There are so many things that are beyond me, and there are also lots of things I have to take care of.
    I know that I am not able to handle those things just by myself.

    But.... there's something I've always wanted to do(not a specific job),I've wanted to try, and learn.

    How could you overcome the obstacles?
    And if you were me, what kind of attitude and plans would you have?

    I know that what I'm talking about here is a bit abstract right now, but I really want to hear your advice even if it would be just a word lol.
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    Feb 13 2012: as someone who wants to sculpt more than anything, and has good ideas, i am trapped in the little world I live in and confronted by a pattern of failures right out of college. I cant say im going to let it get me down, but I dont know haha. cantseem to catch a break
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet I'm doing an essay over your artwork and i was wondering what do you consider your art to be? I mean it is definitely unique but how would you describe it, or under what genre would you put it? I apologize if it seems too dull but i just want to know. I'm an art history student who has never had an interest in art but yours certainly gives me a feeling of awe. Not to mention how do you perceive your art to be revolutionary, taking into account the unique techniques you have implemented in your sculptures..
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet,
    Do you let time-frames/deadlines, in any way, govern your creativity?
    Thank you.
  • Feb 13 2012: I hypnotize myself. The unconscious mind is largely regarded as the source of creativity, by most creatives I've met anyways and so it's helpful to have a means to talk to it and ask it for help. Hypnosis is good for focusing on things, and everyone seems to enjoy going into trances once they've learned to do it. You can be very focused and alert, but also observant so your creative side can offer suggestions and help you to solve problems you're overcoming as well.

    There are many people who disregard hypnosis, and that's their right. I find that there are few ways to really speak to the right hemisphere of the brain / unconscious mind (though I do not think these are identical, only similar in certain ways) that we discuss as a culture. Once you've learnt to talk to your unconscious, there's a wealth of abilities, potentials and insights you can gain. It needn't be all about therapeutic value, you can do it for achievement, learning and releasing your 'super powers'.
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello, Janet! I would like to ask you how would you define confidence and how important do you think confidence is when it comes to creative jobs? Moreover, how do you recognize the area you want to be creative in? And how do you get past people who just say let's do something creative just for the sake of saying it and don't really mean it? Thank you!
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet.
    If intense research and development was required to develop products and a lot of time passes with several hurdles faced... when do you think, should artists/designers get their designs/products out there in the world... rather than spending longer and longer time chasing the unattainable "perfection" at the start?
    Where do you define the line?
    Thank you for doing this!
  • Feb 13 2012: Hi Janet,

    Your work in your website portfolio is fabulous! Some remind me of aurora borealis.

    I am "reinventing" myself at an age when my peers are beginning to think about retirement. Learning multimedia design, photography, etc. School, work, homework = not enough of me to do it all sometimes. Housework? Cooking? Ha ha ha.

    Perhaps the hardest for me is prioritizing, and not downplaying or second-guessing my creativity, which has never been in the forefront as it is now. Often there is not enough of me after I get off work to feel very creative.

    Can you offer ways that you recharge yourself and your creativity?

    Thank you!
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  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet,

    Any advice on how to silence the critical mind in order to allow the unconscious total freedom to create? This is a big one for me!

    Many thanks.
  • Feb 13 2012: Do you have a documentary of any of your processes? That would be a great project to work on. Showing some of your skills and unique talents in action while not giving up everything like a TV show. I'd watch it.
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      Feb 13 2012: Andrew, I'd love to work with a crew on a documentary. A crew in Australia began documenting my project in Sydney Australia this past September, and they are seeking collaborators in other countries. If anyone is interested, they should contact me via the email on my website
  • Feb 13 2012: Janet, I'm interested to know about your way to overcome doubt when you are creating.
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      Feb 13 2012: First thing is that I have NOT overcome doubt. I am always encountering doubt. BUT, when I encounter it, if I have the time, I try to have a little internal dialogue with it, and sometimes to explore what internalized "voice" might be the source of it. I think we all have a kind of board room in our brains, the various voices which we have internalized, and some are more supportive of the creative process than others.
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      Feb 13 2012: Valeria, I'm oftened asked about this, and I want to give you something concrete you can work with. I guess my suggestion is that when you encounter doubt, I would spend a little time exploring where that is coming from. If it turns out to be a very powerful negative internal voice, and it may be just too difficult to make it go away (it generally is) so in that case, I'd say to ask it take take a lunch break, or as extended a vacation as you need to explore your creative issue at hand. Let me know if that is helpful. I'll do my best.
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet, our research group is very interesed in knowing about creative environments, not only creative individuals. Greetings from Bogotá, Colombia .thanks in advance
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      Feb 13 2012: Ivan, I'm really interested in your question about creative environments.

      Running out of time.
      If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
  • Feb 13 2012: And I am also curious how you design these pieces before construction. Figure the structures and fabric (fishnet) needed. It would seem a lot of logic and engineering must go into these designs.
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    Feb 13 2012: Hello. Persevering through all the challenges over a long studio career has been part of the fun. And I say that through the birth of three children, many recessions, and judgements as to who or what I am as an artist in the pecking order. I've ignored the obstacles, worked around them, adjusted and mostly kept my sense of humor. I just care about learning and that's what's kept me going. Now my latest challenge is agism...but hey, everyone else is aging too.
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      Feb 13 2012: Stephanie, Am happy to engage in this conversation if there is a particular issue.Running out of time.
      If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
  • Feb 13 2012: I have always been amazed at what the creative being can do... sometimes the impossible! How do you convince people that this driving creative spirit is REAL?
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      Feb 13 2012: For me, I have to believe it myself first. I find that if I really truly believe in something, and have conquered my own ambivalence first, then I can communicate my enthusiasm and belief to others.
      • Feb 13 2012: Janet, thank You for all your wise words. I don't know how about Mary but for me it sounds SO true. But ..do you have some special ways of doing this? Is it about self talk only? What works for me is to write down a lot in my notebook to convince myself. Do you have some other better ways? :)
        I would be so happy to hear from you about it more!
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      Feb 13 2012: Mary, does that sound useful? Is there some ambivalence within yourself that is preventing you from convincing others?
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      Feb 13 2012: I'd really be interested to hear from you on this forum again, to let us know how things are going.
  • Feb 13 2012: Hello Janet!
    I would like to know how do you manage passion and earn for living? Some artists doing their art really good and don't want to compromise to their client (or market), and perceive that when money comes into play, their art will not be 'pure' anymore. What's your thought about it?
    Thanks!
    Rocky
    • Feb 13 2012: What is the reason for art? Is it fundamentally self expression or is it communication?

      If the issue is self expression, there there should be no expectation that others should care about what you have to say. If they do, AWESOME, but if they don't, well...

      However, if the reason is communication, then the audience becomes part of the medium. Just as in a conversation, you need to adapt to your co-conversationalists. If you are boring or offending the people you are talking to, then you need to make adjustments. This doesn't mean you have to bore yourself or sell out yourself. People find creative, fulfilling ways to interact with other people all the time that fulfill their need for creativity and self-expression.
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        • Feb 13 2012: Sure, but we've all had the experience of talking to someone who just didn't listen.

          I guess what I'm trying to say is this: The neat thing about human experience is that most of it is shared by everyone - thus through being totally authentic to yourself, you can also be authentic to others. However, it is really easy to 'go to far' ... to think that I cannot consider what people want to see/hear or worse yet... what they expect to see/hear.
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          Feb 13 2012: Running out of time.
          If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
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        Feb 13 2012: Running out of time.
        If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
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      Feb 13 2012: Rocky, wow, this is a tough one. And EVERY painter/sculptor/actor/musician I know has this problem. For me, when I was just starting out after college, I decided that it was important for me to spend as much time trying to develop as an artist, and the thing I had more ability to control than earning a living was my own cost of living. So I moved to a village in Bali, Indonesia (Ubud), and I was living on about US$250/month. I would go back to the US where I'm from every year and sell my paintings, and with that I could return to Indonesia and spend another year pursuing my artwork full-time. It turned out that that was very important for me to develop. I really needed that time.
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      Feb 13 2012: Rocky, I don't think that's a solution for everybody. It's just what worked for me at the beginning. And I still encounter that question all the time, whether to direct my energies toward something that appears to be more profit-generating vs. what appears to be more my creative desire. What I've discovered (and again, I don't know if this would be true for others), was that when I followed my creative desire, it ended up having a better financial outcome anyway.
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      Feb 13 2012: For example, when I was painting during the first decade I was an artist, I worked with a gallery that told me that yellow paintings just wouldn't sell, and also that small and medium sized works were easier for her to sell. When I returned to my studio after that, all I could do was use yellow, and I am naturally drawn to canvases that are larger than the swing of my arm. There's an internal part of me that needs the artistic expression to be authentic, and it just won't take direction like "don't use yellow". But in the end, I made a big expressive yellow painting, and of course, it was one of the best. And when my next exhibition opened, the ones that sold were the big expressive ones. So in my creative process, I just try to ignore external input like that.
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      Feb 13 2012: But I do have to consider maintenance issues at every stage of my work. Those are external data points that are crucial for successsful outcomes.
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      Feb 13 2012: Running out of time.
      If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
  • Feb 13 2012: Hi, your sculptures are amazing. Where do you draw the line between listening to the feedback or criticism of others and plowing your own path?
  • Feb 13 2012: Fabulous installations. How were you inspired to produce work at this scale?
  • Feb 13 2012: Why do you create?
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Marc, That's a big gnarly questions. I'm not sure why I create. But I can attest to the fact that it brings me great joy, and that I feel the most alive when I am creating. Does that help address your question?
      • Feb 13 2012: Yes - that sense of 'aliveness' comes close.
        I think that when we absorb ourselves fully in any creative process we more fully inhabit the present moment.
        Perhaps that 'joy' comes from being liberated from the constraints of past and future.
        I'm interested in relationships between mindfulness and the creative process. It can be a very spiritual experience.
  • Feb 13 2012: Thanks Janet - for taking the time to do this.
    "Creative vision -- how do you develop and hold onto it, especially when obstacles appear in your path?'
    Janet - I'm a musician/photographer/writer/sometimes-painter, it always seems like there are these obstacles that get in the way and make it harder and harder to let creativity flow. How do you overcome those obstacles and any other thing that gets in the way of your creative vision?
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Pete, First I want to say that sometimes encounter the obstacles that you describe getting in the way. In fact, I can't think of any project where I didn't encounter problems.
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      Feb 13 2012: The obstacles that occur in the creative process are painful, and difficult. And my development of a creative idea is more about staying with it than channeling some wonderful stream of creative thought. I just keep delving in, turning things around and upside down. As a young person, I was trained as a classical pianist, long before I discovered art as an adult. I use alot of the techniques I learned as a musician. We used to take things apart, take a line and practice it with different rhythms. And with drawing and painting, I would always turn my paper or canvas around 90 degrees or 180 or 270, and sometimes cut them apart and put them back together in different ways. I find it liberates me from what I was originally thinking. I was told that Picasso would be painting and if there was a small part he thought was perfect he would have to paint it out in order to finish the whole painting. So I try alot of things to shake up my creative process and to keep it fresh and open to new ideas.
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      Feb 13 2012: Working collaboratively with people is a great way to bring fresh and different approaches. That's something that has been invaluable to me. Have you tried that?
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        Feb 13 2012: Janet, how do you like the process of creating in the publicly funded sphere? Are you able to dictate your own creativity or have you found yourself having to respond the "public" input?
  • Feb 13 2012: How do you rekindle passion for a project you were once excited about, but have lost interest in?
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      TED

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      Feb 13 2012: Right, it's a conversation only. Submit your comment and Janet will get back to you right away.
  • Feb 13 2012: Your work is beautiful, are they permanent installations?
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Ted, Most of the sculptures are "permanent", meaning that they are intended for long term. (I have been spending time in Rome, and I realize that even the Coliseum wasn't really a "permanent" structure. ) Or the Hoover Dam- it was thought of as a permanent work, but scientists have calculated how long it would take for it to fall apart if there were no maintenance.
  • Feb 13 2012: How does one envision what he could be or what he could create in course of time?
  • Feb 13 2012: I am wondering what process you use to start a project. How to plan it, gather your resources to execute it, and how to keep pushing forward until a piece is finished. I work as a photographer and video editor but I have started so many ideas between writing and painting that I never get to any of them for more than a few days.
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      Feb 13 2012: Andrew, that is a really tough problem. And I also struggle with some ideas that interest me that I don't have time to focus on. But I try to keep looking over all the ideas and to pick the single one that seems most important to pursue. And to just keep at it until I get through to the next side.
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      Feb 13 2012: You know the old story about how to eat an elephant?
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      Feb 13 2012: I try to take the big problems apart, into "bite sized" pieces.
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      Feb 13 2012: The other thing that I try to keep in mind is Mahatma Gandhi. I keep thinking about what it was like for him to set out on the Salt Walk to the sea, and how impossible it must have been to imagine that he could overthrow an incredibly powerful imperial empire to create an independent state. The method I've been taught (credit here to the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network and the Henry Crown Fellowship) is to look at the final goal, imagine that it is a reality, and then work your way backwards.
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      Feb 13 2012: That is the best method I have to make sure that I have included all the "bite-sized" pieces.
  • Feb 13 2012: This is so incredibly timely, I can hardly believe it. I just started blogging about five weeks ago, in order to draw an audience for my coaching practice. I've gained some clients as a result of it, but the blog itself is getting some great reviews. Now I'm having to make some very tough choices about going back to full-time work, which I know will drastically interfere with my energy for writing and coaching, but I need some real income quickly.

    Talk to me about the choices you've had to make in this arena. I want to hear everyone's story so it will inspire my own.
  • Feb 13 2012: Where can your art be seen?
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Andrew,
      You can see my art at the San Francisco International Airport's new terminal 2, in the Phoenix Civic Space park in Arizona, at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Canada (from the Vancouver Winter Olympics), and on the waterfront in Porto, Portugal, at the border with Matosinhos. We have googlemaps for each of these sites on our website, www.echelman.com, if you're nearby and want directions.
      • Feb 13 2012: Wow I am impressed. Great work. Love the use of lights and color. So vibrant,
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      Feb 13 2012: Also, we just had a ground-breaking in Philadelphia, for the big plaza in front of their historic City Hall, Dilworth Plaza. That is the work that traces the pathways of subway trains above ground using curtains of mist and colored light.

      And we're in fabrication of a new project for the University of Oregon Matthew Knight Arena, which will be my first sculpture that responds to the cheering of fans, which trigger physical fan air movement that excites the netted sculptural forms.
      • Feb 13 2012: I will have to go to Philly then. It's only a couple hours away. I will be sure to check it out.
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      Feb 13 2012: Of course, the easiest place to view video or photos of the work is at https://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/janet_echelman.html
      or at www.echelman.com.
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      Feb 13 2012: One of the difficult things about physical art experiences is that in order to FULLY experience the artwork, you need to get your body to the actual location of the artwork. For me as an artist, the physical sensation of moving through a sculpture is really central to the art. There is something that happens kinesthetically when you sense something all around you and continue to sense its movement and your own movement in relation to it.
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    Feb 13 2012: From your story I guess that you, too, could not make a living from your art only in the beginning. How did you manage to survive daily life and still have enough time and engergy for your creative work?
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    Feb 13 2012: hi!!!
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Benito,
      I don't think my work fits specifically into any category. It's a hybrid of many fields. But the frame within which I see my work is sculpture as it meets urban design. But there are so many additional fields that come into it.
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    Feb 13 2012: Do you or will you have projects in Europe?
    (I sometimes work for http://www.aktivraum.de/en/inforolfzavelberg, so I am also interested in the aspect of light in your work)
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Frank,
      My first project in Europe is in Portugal, on the border between the cities of Porto and Matosinhos.
      It's called "She Changes" and was really important in my development as an artist.
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      Feb 13 2012: I've just started working on a new and exciting project in France, but I can't tell you the details about it yet, as it's just beginning.
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      Feb 13 2012: In fact, this project came out of one which didn't proceed. I traveled to France when a French curator proposed my work for the 2013 European Cultural Capital in Marseilles, and I became a finalist and traveled to France to meet the curator. (They just announced that the commission has gone to a French artist). But the good news about how things go is that while I was there I met someone else that may turn into one of the most interesting projects of my career. So for me, sometimes what looks like a "dead end" turns out to an unexplored path.
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      Feb 13 2012: Frank, if you want to know more about this European project, please stay tuned on www.echelman.com
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        Feb 13 2012: thank you, I will :O)

        As I edited my post, I may ask again, which role does the lighting of your objects play for you?

        Anyway, I really like your work and hope to see it one day maybe even in Germany. A city like Cologne, where I live now, could DEFINITELY use it!! :)
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      Feb 13 2012: Frank, Would be interested to talk about light in my work at length.

      Am running out of time.
      If you can re-post your question underneath my TED talk, I can answer them with more time.
  • Feb 13 2012: Is it just a chat? ....is it not a lecture?
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      TED

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      Feb 13 2012: Barry, this is the live feed. It's written conversation. You make a comment, and Janet responds. You'll need to refresh the page from time to time. Thank You!
  • Feb 13 2012: For nearly 5 years a worthy and wonderful vision has been inspiring me - with relatively little forward movement in seeing it begin to manifest itself. Nevertheless along with the developing vision has come a deep sense of confidence to not abandon the commitment to continue advancing the concept(s). To be eager, yet patient, and to remember that the universe is not off schedule.
  • Feb 13 2012: First question, do you teach?
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      Feb 13 2012: I really enjoying teaching, because it's a chance to interact. I always find I'm inspired by teaching. Right now, I've been full-time at work on designing and building sculpture projects, but in the past, and perhaps again in the future, I will be teaching again.
  • Feb 13 2012: I don't even know if I am using it correctly.
  • Feb 13 2012: Hi Janet! Can you talk a little bit about your creative process? Where do you get ideas? Thanks! -Kat
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      Feb 13 2012: My creative process always starts with a place, or some set of constraints. I start learning and exploring everything to do with a place, its history, geography, culture, the kinds of materials that have historically been used there, and the methods people have developed over the centuries to work with those materials. So my initial inspiration springs from the research . And sometimes it comes from unexpected places.
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      Feb 13 2012: Trying to think of an example of an unexpected source of inspiration...
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      Feb 13 2012: For example, when the Biennial of the Americas and the City of Denver asked me to create a sculpture that could represent the interconnectedness of the 35 nations of the Western Hemisphere participating in their Biennial, I started reading and interviewing people as widely as possible. And then I came upon this article about how a NASA scientist named Richard Gross had measured the effects of the earthquake that had just happened in Chile (2010), and that he had measured that the earth's rotation had been shortened by 1.26 microseconds, which effectively shortened the day for the planet. And I instantly knew that that was something important for this project- one data point that revealed how an event happening in one part of the planet was causing ripple effects all over the planet. And there was an incredible animation of the data on NOAA's website showing the ripple effects of the tsunami wave heights across the Pacific Ocean. That video was so inspiring to me that I included it in my TED talk.
  • Feb 13 2012: Sorry, I don't see the conversation. Is there some kind of trick to this?
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      TED

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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Erin, The conversation is just starting so you can be part of it. Janet is online to discuss any questions/comments you have. :)
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      Feb 13 2012: Hi Erin, I'm online and can answer your question now.