JT O'Neal's Uncanny Commandment | Skillshare Projects

JT O'Neal

Owner at Uncanny Artifacts



JT O'Neal's Uncanny Commandment

                               “I Shut My Eyes in Order to See.”          Paul Gauguin

See the concept video for Uncanny Artifacts "Shut My Eyes" Business Commandment:


JT O'Neal's Uncanny Artifacts

As an artist, it is always my goal to convey meaning through images. Whether those images are direct representions or cryptic abstractions, the goal is the same: communicate with the viewer. I may be creating a children's book to entertain and educate, or I may be painting surreal impressions of mermaids. I want to take the audience on a ride they could only experience through my work.

Most artists I know have similar goals. They also have similar problems achieving those goals. How do artists deliver unique experience in an ocean of human ideas and creations?

How do we stay ORIGINAL? How do we stay FRESH? How do we stay INNOVATIVE?

Post-impressionist or primitivist, French artist Paul Gauguin certainly put his own stamp on the art world. He sought to control the viewers' reactions through his control of the image. His statement, "I shut my eyes in order to see," has intrigued me since I first read it. It has come to mean more to me than Gauguin probably originally intended, but the essence of the idea is a tennet that could help any artist find and stay true to the inner voice that creates, that provides the unique spark.

Where does the UNIQUE SPARK of CREATIVITY come from?

None of us lives in a vacuum. We are all products of nature and environment. Vast numbers of us share many general experiences. This gives us common reference upon which to base communication. We have been communicating with visual information for at least 70,000 years. We share VISION. Art would not exist without this human ability. Perhaps we would be less than human without it.


To experience the world outside of ourselves, we must have our EYES OPEN. We watch. We look. Our experiences are stored within us. They are no longer simply part of our outside world. As they become a part of us, we begin to make new connections with them. We begin to form new patterns. We begin to CREATE.

Even though we share many experiences with others, every human being moves through life in a UNIQUE way. We are all individuals. We must learn to edit out all of the other voices and impressions that dictate the world to us and trust in our own way of being and seeing. We must SHUT OUR EYES IN ORDER TO SEE...

...with the MIND'S EYE.


Much of our "objective experience" is really "subjective." As artists, this re-writable reality is our playground. We can take what we know (or think we know) and reshape it into whatever we wish it to be. We can create an entire universe in our minds.



Our ability to imagine and create and to share our ideas though symbols is unique to humans. It elevates us. It gives us the power to reshape our world.

Gauguin's statement reminds us of this awesome ability in the simplest way. He reminds us to look inward. UNIQUE VISION comes from within, where "objective reality" meets our perception of it. CREATIVITY unleashes that UNIQUE VISION back into the world, and it becomes part of reality for someone else to perceive.

This commandment helps guide me to my UNIQUE VISION when I struggle with

  • Maintaining an original voice in a fickle market
  • Finding my creative spark
  • Having confidence in ideas
  • Letting dreams guide my work
  • Comparing my work with others'

"I shut my eyes in order to see," is at the core of my artistic and business philosophy. It continues to help me stay connected to my inner spark. Shut your eyes. See if it does the same for you.

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