A PLACE FOR ME TO FIGURE IT OUT.
Family Leg Day 2016, by yours truly.
I have been pressed these last few years, time and time again to look at artist’s works as references and inspiration to my own. I find, that I do not, and have rarely, found my inspiration from such resources. I acknowledge the irony in an artist who doesn’t look at ‘art’ and though I find it educational to understand the histories of art while also using contemporary practices to inform methodologies in my own studio, I simply find my inspiration in other things.
First, I love reading. Mainly I lose myself in a well-written fiction or fantasy novel, but I also very much enjoy a good autobiography written by an actor. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, and, most recently, Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman have had more influence on my artistic practice than any contemporary painter or sculptor. I also love theologies such as Alan Watts’ The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are and We: The psychology of romantic love by Robert Johnson (based in Jungian psychology). These books and essays allow me not only to look at art and artistic practice, but also give me insight in what it is to be a human being living on this earth. What I find in writings is an insight into how to live my life successfully, and believe me when I say that much of it has to do with creativity and passion.
For me, being an artist has no boundaries, but it does have expectations. Those expectations are the same ones I hold to myself and those around me in order to be a human being who not only contributes to this world (so as not to waste this beautiful life gifted to them), but a content being as well. These are as follows:
1. Have a discipline.
2. Never sacrifice anything for your passion.
3. Live your life with conviction, patience, and joy.
A discipline can be anything, anything, that one dedicates to practice. I have several disciplines, the first of which is art. My “artistic practice” provides me with challenges in which I find both success and failure. Now, some will argue that most of the learning comes through the failure portion but I disagree. I think it is the combination of the two that provides the learning because if we never succeeded then failure would have no comparison. I will agree that success can boost your will power to move forward. In my studio, this practice allows me the freedom experiment with new ways of making and new materials and rewards me when something ends up looking cool as shit, or reflects a thought that removes me, or someone else, from the distracting mess of day-to-day shenanigans. A discipline not only allows one to grow and learn, but it most importantly ensures that one is doing something. If you’re really into pinecones, than you better be doing something related to pinecones on a daily basis (Yes, drawing pictures and daydreaming always counts). Note: a discipline is not required to be your income, (but it sure fucking helps with all of that time you spend on the practice).
When I say to never sacrifice anything for your passion I trust that you have some set priorities. For instance, I would not sacrifice one of my brothers if it meant I would be a successful artist, or would I? Kidding. What I am referring to is most of the world that give up their passion or their love for that steady income and likewise the people who give up their happiness in order to pursue success. If you give up all of those things that give your life meaning in order to chase down that “American Dream” then you most certainly will never find what you’re looking for. To all of those fame searchers in the world, consider yourself warned: even if the whole world knows your name and face that does not mean you will feel complete as a human being. Just saying. Again, priorities. My priorities include my family and by extension my community, and this wonderful body-heart-mind complex I seem to have. It also just so happens that I have found one of the best ways to nurture myself, as well as my community, is through living a creative lifestyle. I love how that works out. What this means to me is that in order to service my artistic career I don’t have to sacrifice traveling, having a family, living wherever I am happiest, or what I do for income to feed and shelter myself, because at the end of the day they are all one and the same: MY LIFE.
Conviction as a young adult separated from their community of origin, especially as an easy-going individual, somehow gets easily smashed by all of those who seem to know more than you because they are “older.” Well, I have come to the realization that until I have buried six feet under there will always be someone “older” and wiser. Always trusting that someone else is right is no way to live a life. Instead I now have this conclusion: You have a brain, use it; you have an opinion, express it; you have a heart, listen to it. Please adhere in no particular order. In fact, simultaneity is probably best. Just remember that life requires time (construct that it is) and it may take a minute, or a lifetime to find your voice nonetheless for some other person to listen. Patience is a helpful bastard. Most importantly, try to find joy wherever you can. Joy is different than happiness, at least for me. To me joy requires suffering. Joy is when you can’t keep yourself from smiling and laughing even though your crying because someone you love just died. It doesn’t always have to be that dramatic but I personally have felt joy in several such moments. Joy not only helps ease the pain, but it makes the pain worth it--Some sort of sick validation/balance complex. When you really think about it, if there’s no joy, than what the point?
Summation of how to live an inspired life:
1. Have a practice or discipline that makes you kick your own ass.
2. Passion is the food and juice of life so don’t throw it out.
3. Have a backbone, don’t be hasty, and remember that laughing stops the tears.