"I never think in terms of metaphor nor do I think in terms of what the image is going to look like beforehand. What concerns me is the relationship of the elements that I happen to find interesting at the time."The above quote is from artist Richard Serra, who does giant sculpture installations like the one pictured below. Quoted from the PBS show Art:21
I found the above quote quite striking this spring when watching Art:21 because it seemed to speak to my own creative process. Do I still find it true and striking? Yes and no.
Yes, I don't think there's much merit in starting with metaphor. Metaphor slips in accidentally, like the alley cat you throw scraps to one night, who returns the next morning. Then one day, months later, she's your house cat and you're not even sure when that happened. Metaphor is the thing best left for the critiquer to find and see. Once they see it, it's there: accept it. Before they see it, it doesn't exist.
No, I now believe that there is great value in visualizing what the work will look like at the end beforehand. This is the true value of my Odyssey education coming into play: wandering blindly makes for one hell of a bumpy, convoluted ride. If you have an idea of where you're going you can get there more smoothly. Might you take a detour? Yes. Might you never arrive at your destination because, on the road, you decided that Chinese food sounded better than Mexican tonight? Yes. But that's still much more efficient than walking into a car without a thought in your head about where you might want to dine.