Minimalism in action: why I prefer to display art as paperweights instead of wall art

I’m a minimalist who loves visual art and hates clutter. If you are the same, then this blog post is for you.

Do minimalists have decorations at home?

As a minimalist, I learned the hard way that I need art in my life, even if apparently, it has no use. What I did though, in order to avoid clutter is to display art on objects which have some function, for example, I’d rather buy a beautiful mug than having that same artwork hanged on the wall above my couch.

Do people still use paperweights?

Paperweights have been around for centuries and there’s no denying that they add a special touch to any room. Fine art paperweights make exquisite gifts and their intriguing designs can make a lasting impression. A paperweight can also be a meaningful way to commemorate a special moment or milestone and no matter the occasion, paperweights can be a beautiful and lasting way to honor and celebrate it. Yet at first glance, paperweights may appear to be nothing more than pieces of glass with some intricate designs.

And as a minimalist focused on each object having a well-defined function if I am to allow it space where I live, it might seem strange that I have a glass paperweight taking up place on my desk. It seems like an artifact from a different century, but I put it to good use by holding in place paperwork that I need to deal with as soon as possible, for example, things like invoices or fiscal receipts. I can’t cover too many papers with one paperweight and this way I avoid being overwhelmed by paperwork.

My desk faces the room’s window instead of a wall and a fine art paperweight is more likely to inspire me and not distract me when I’m creating or when I’m just doing administrative stuff. The paperweight I currently have on my desk houses a marine Ikebana poem I wrote, called “Hoar”, and it tells the encouraging story of not being bitter after you are the witness of your first white strand of hair on your head because life may surprise you and good things will happen to you beyond youth. You just don’t know how medicine will evolve and how one incurable element one century ago will be repairable in the future.

But like any marine Ikebana poem, this one also looks like just another still life bouquet of flowers and the text doesn’t distract me if I’m brainstorming or not actively trying to read the poem embedded inside the paperweight.

And while paperweights can have various shapes, my favorite one is the typical cabochon or dome shape like you see above. I love how this form seems to bring the best out of a 2D image or 3D inclusions housed inside the paperweight. The simplicity and the minimalism of the cabochon shape also contrasts well with the complexity of the image/inclusions reflected throughout the paperweight.

What do minimalists put on their walls?

If distracting, wall art can be moved from place to place, but unless it is small and can be leaned against a surface, I find hanging it to be a hassle and to be frank, all the walls in my home are white. Paperweights, on the other hand, are portable by design since you can hold one in your hand. I love that they are small and I can easily move them somewhere else if I need to focus and I want my desk to be completely empty.

Besides, a pet peeve of mine which few people know of is that I hate to go into an art museum expecting to be inspired by a diversity of art forms and once I set foot there, I encounter paintings only, as if painting is the only art form. I am often more inspired by Pinterest where an art search is going to be more diverse and inclusive. As a consequence, I wrote a visual poem called “Your Kind of Art” about the courage it takes to indulge in a rare art form and publicly calling it “art”. You can see it below, available on a small, square metal art print if that’s your thing, but since it is available on Zazzle, you can easily change its size, shape, type of canvas or even type of product on which it is printed.

What inspires me to create

All things considered, creation is a journey of self-discovery. I have tried several art forms and I’m constantly trying out new ones. As a child in art school, I mostly studied music with some years of studying ballet and one year of painting. I am still moved by music and I have saved countless YouTube playlists I absolutely need when creating different kinds of things, but I ended my music career a very long time ago because this art form seems so ephemeral and so reliant on technology in order to access it.

As an adult, I rediscovered the joys of writing. I ended up writing several articles in the life extension niche, 3 non-fiction books and 5 books of visual poetry. I had the 3 non-fiction books translated in 6 more languages and I was surprised by being contacted by readers who don’t speak English, but still found value in what I wrote and had translated. This experience also got me interested in translation as a field and I currently keep myself updated to the medical field (after going to medical school, doing a residency in geriatrics and gerontology and then deciding that clinical work is not really what I want to do for the rest of my life) by freelancing as an EN-RO/RO-EN translator in the healthcare niche only.

Initially, I wanted to have my visual poems translated in other languages as well and I even started doing that in Romanian, my native tongue, but for the moment, this project is on the back burner because even if I have the text, I still have to visually edit the poems to look like Ikebana bouquets of flowers. I wanted to have them translated in Japanese too, but with the kanji characters, I imagine the formatting of the visual poems will be even more difficult to achieve if the number of characters will be different compared to English.

Visual art, though, is understandable even by the illiterate and unlike music or a movie, it is instantly perceived due to the peculiarities of the human brain which favors visually displayed information and I like that instant gratification.

Another thing influencing what I create is me resonating with Stoicism as a life philosophy. I view it as an European version of Buddhism where attachment is perceived to lead to suffering. I think some degree of attachment is necessary to form a cohesive self identity and just to enjoy life, but excessive attachment, especially when it comes to objects, is something that I’m seeking to avoid. You may wonder now what that has to do with creating art.

Stoicism influences me by making my art unique, yet not rare. For example, I don’t sell originals (as in physical paintings that exist in one place only): I either create digital art or I draw on paper and make the scans available online. If drawing, I prefer watercolor pencils because I can separate the messy part of applying water with a brush at the end (which is still cleaner than having to regularly replace the water for any new color like with traditional painting) and I can do the actual drawing anywhere, even lying down in bed.

Along the same lines, when it comes to art prints, I don’t limit their number. All the art prints I licensed are open edition ones. If you bought an art print with artwork created by me, you will be able to buy it a second time if the first one was destroyed for any reason. I saw my share of people putting themselves in danger to save objects(!) and I want to avoid encouraging that behavior through the way I make available what I create.

I have always oscillated like a pendulum between art and science and at this stage of my life, I think design is a medium where I can combine them in one activity. Making my art available on functional objects is also why I see myself more as a designer rather than an artist. I’m not sure if my previous STEM education or just being into minimalism is to be blamed here for not indulging in art for art’s sake, but briefly, this is how I ended up displaying artistic poems on paperweights and other functional objects.

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