On searching for your own idea of quality
And what if it keeps changing?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a statement that the Italian architect and industrial designer Patricia Urquiola made to T magazine last year, for a big package on artists and their daily routines that I was reluctant to open—get off my niche, T magazine!—but that, I had to admit, contained a lot of insightful and resonant material. Here’s the statement (emphasis mine):
The goal is always to find projects that offer a sense of freedom. Sometimes, you only get that in little bits—as an architect, you can’t always negotiate the terms of a commission—but I like that in each project I do, I can search for my idea of quality or find the context for a new definition of quality. Ultimately, the work of an artist comes down to just that: to searching for your own idea of quality, a pursuit that requires freedom, for which you must advocate.
Yes! I think that’s so true, especially for those of us whose work is, let’s say, a negotiation between an artistic impulse and a commercial imperative. That’s certainly true of my books, and of this newsletter too—I’m always trying to find that sweet spot between what I’m genuinely interested in, what I think will grab readers’ attention, and what I think has some value in the marketplace (in terms of book sales or enticing folks to pay for this newsletter 👀).