The Ink Oracle

Girl Playing withInk and Foxes (Watercolour 6 ink on paper, 20x20cm by Imke Rust)

Girl Playing with Ink and Foxes    (Watercolour 6 ink on paper, 20x20cm by Imke Rust)

It is a blessing to be versatile and enjoy working in so many different mediums, styles, sizes, themes and approaches.

It is a blessing to be versatile and enjoy working in so many different mediums, styles, sizes, themes and approaches.

It is a blessing to be versatile and enjoy working in so many different mediums, styles, sizes, themes and approaches.

Yes, neither you nor me are drunk, I DID repeat that three times.

I need to remind myself (and the world out there) about that. Too often, I get frustrated with the challenge of trying to explain who I am and present myself to galleries or other people who are used to people specialising in one thing. People love the simplicity of boxes, into which you have to fit nicely and which can easily be understood and stored…

And I understand…

I will never forget meeting the ‘plastic wrap artist’ in Beijing in 2008. He showed me several really thick catalogs of his work. All he painted was super-realistic renditions of people wrapped in see-through plastic. That simple. Nothing else.

Even if I do not remember his name, I will always remember what he does and if ever I need a painting of a person wrapped in plastic, I will know exactly whom to ask. That is the beauty of specialisation. And it is real easy and great for marketing and selling your art.

Every time I make art and do something different, I get extraordinary excited.
Every time I fall madly in love with the new work, the style, the medium and the subject matter.  But, no matter how successful the work or how much fun I am having, I could never imagine doing thousands of those same different-similar works for the rest of my life. Or even for the rest of the year, or month…

You might have noticed that I have changed my ‘job-description’ from political artist to environmental artist to painter to conceptual artist or a combination thereof. I have never been fully satisfied. I am or have been all of that, but never exclusively.

I am all of that… and so much more.

So my latest change is to this description: Multi-Passionate Creative Being. For now that seems to be the best short description I can find. Even if it is probably not as easy to understand as ‘The Plastic Wrap Artist’.

In celebration of my versatility I would like to share a small insight into one of my current explorations. The common denominator: working in a small square format and on paper. Mostly in inks and watercolours, but not limited to that.

What makes these works really exciting for me, is that I have promised myself to work as intuitively as I can, i.e. paint the first thing that comes to mind and then just continue with what the artwork dictates. It is kind of like a dialog.

Wildly scary is the second aspect that I have challenged myself with: just draw or paint what I feel, without any judgement.

In other words: banning the inner critic. (Which feels like overthrowing the lifetime president…) And no labouring to get things to look ‘perfect’. Rather let them feel right and let them be.

Thank you for bearing with me and my ramblings and reading till here! Finally you can have a look at a selection of these latest works:



9 thoughts on “The Ink Oracle

  1. Janet Botes

    Beautiful works!! I am in EXACTLY the same boat than you are, each new work is a new discovery, a new challenge, and thus nothing fits together into one of the predefined boxes for the art world! I’ve recently joked that my solo exhibition in June will seem like a group exhibition, and there is so much truth in this statement. I have to say, that I think we get very wrapped up in our own worlds, our studios, and forget to look into history – the Impressionists, Da Vinci, Picasso, they all invented and explored, that’s how or why we know their names today. They didn’t fit into boxes and even though their legacy lives on, they didn’t have easy lives either, they didn’t fit into the boxes of their world. It’s the artists like us, the mavericks, the multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional, multi-media practitioners of our modern world that needs to show another way, another way of being, doing and living, or even just perceiving. You are one of the chosen ones. And you are not alone. 😉

    1. Imke Rust Post author

      Thank you, Janet! That is why I love your work, too. It is always exciting and new. Fortunately I am not alone! That is also the reason for me sharing these inner struggles and triumphs, often seeing that others have similar paths, has helped me to find mine.
      True, it is a good reminder to look at history and other multi’s. It feels like I have to un-learn so many should’s and should not’s, that I have picked up from trying to do everything right, in order to allow myself to be who I are and who I, deep down, know am wonderful and perfect, because of being so versatile etc.
      Greetings from Berlin!

  2. Indigo Spider

    I admit to HATING the idea that one has to “specialize”, to be put in a box, to have a simple “brand” to sell. In the world of writing there is the same idea, “what genre do you write?” Uhm… all of them? “What genre is your work-in-progress” uh, yeah, not sure, a bit of everything. If there isn’t a quick one-line “logline”, as they call them in the writing world, that sums up what the story, novel, poem, screenplay, etc. is about, than it has no value. Ridiculous and frustrating. Human beings are complex, can not be summed up with a quick logline, so why must the art we create be limited?

    Personally, I sometimes wonder if we have so many problems in the world because collectively we feel stifled by the way we are expected to fit in a box. I was taught that art is an expression of society and it’s problems, so what does it say about our world when art is expected to be limited to a “specialized” view?

    I also love the raven! Love all the drawings of course but the raven speaks to me. As for the inner critic, good-luck shutting it up! I never manage to shut mine up when writing, the pain in the ass always has something to say 😉

    1. Imke Rust Post author

      Yes, it is not easy, especially for creative people, to fit neatly into a box. And you are right, that this prescribed need to do so, is probably part of so many problems and unhappiness. While I absolutely take so much joy from being versatile in my approach, I am also envious about people who can easily describe what they do or who they are in one sentence… (but that might stem from everybody telling you that you need to be able to do that.)

      Do you know the TED talks from Brene Brown? I think you might enjoy them. Here is a link to a talk about the inner (and outer) critics: which I really needed to hear. She also has a really great talk about Shame and I just finished her book, The Gifts of Imperfection… I am a big fan.

      And another favourite article to read, when the inner critic becomes to obnoxious is: Why Art Sucks ( ) 🙂
      Thank you for your regular and kind comments – it feels as if you are a good friend, which I just have not yet met in real life! 🙂

      1. Indigo Spider

        I have not seen the TED talks from Brene but I am heading over there to watch now! Thanks for the recommendation, I always need help with my inner critic 🙂

        I also feel like you are a friend I just have to meet in person someday! I have been wanting to visit Germany again for quite a while, hopefully next year I can make it and when I come I will be sure to say hello 🙂

  3. Ute

    I love your development story and its results – most of all the raven; he seems to know quite a lot of the world.
    My problem is that my versatilty is rather restriced. I am pondering over the same issue already for decades and will presumably go on with it up to the end of my life. Thus I rather resemble your Chinese colleague, and my only excuse it that it might be more difficult to recognize and get rid of the stuff one is wrapped /caugh in than wrapping people in a way that they nevertheless remain visible/transparent,
    Your raven would fit in very well in the persopnalty gallery in my working room; im am very interested in a copy of it!
    Love – Ute

    1. Imke Rust Post author

      Dear Ute, Thank you! I will email you about the raven artwork. I think it would be very happy in your company and the company of the other artworks and personalities in your study!

      I think there is a space for everything. And I am secretly jealous of people like you and the artist I mentioned, because there seems to be such a clarity about what you do and it seems to be easier to describe – although I am aware that it might just look like that from the outside. For me it is a great lesson to embrace fully who I am instead of trying to fit into what seems easier or more acceptable 🙂 Love to you!


Leave your comment - I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s