So today I decided to start a blog...
So today I decided to start writing a blog… no idea how often I’ll add to it or how long it will last… but there’s a lot in this brain of mine that could do with a good dump onto ‘paper’ now and then.
I’m on the eve of a trip down to my gallery in the Coromandel of New Zealand (Bread and Butter Gallery) for a visit to my summer solo show ‘Hybrid 1.0’. The basic premise for the show is ‘don’t put me in a fucking box’… don’t label me… don’t ever try to limit me... which links in well with my experience today. So here goes...
Got my hair trimmed this afternoon in prep for meeting people in the gallery (call me old fashioned but I think its polite to make an effort). The barber was a great guy. Softly spoken with some really cool tattoos down his arm. I thought he might be a creative. He came to NZ many years ago from a country not that far away but very different culturally. He's a Kiwi and loves it here.
The discussion quickly progressed on to the different cultural expectations around careers and success. Was eye opening to hear of the pressures faced by teenagers in this other country. They are pushed way too hard. Got onto the subject of what we did for a ‘living’. Had the usual eyebrow raise (not in a bad way) when I mentioned my medical career and how art has been taking over. Turns out he wanted to be an artist too. Even went to art school in Auckland for a year… but the thing he said next made me mad as hell…
His supposed art teacher/wanker, whether intentional or not, crushed him (in terms of criticising his motivations for creating and what he wanted to create). Now there may be something I’m missing here… those of you who’ve been to art school might want to educate me if this is a well known tactic that is supposed to harden us artists up?! If so, please enlighten me.
Apparently, this art teacher was offended because this young man wanted to paint beautiful things. Dear Lord heavens above why would someone want to do that??? But seriously, I can hazard a guess that this sounds as fantastic to you as it does to me… but it obviously didn't to this teacher. I can’t even begin to wonder what he thought he was trying to achieve, but the end result was that this guy dropped out of art school and is... and this is the real tragedy... NO LONGER PAINTING.
What. The. Fuck.
Now the harsh critics out there might say… ‘well he obviously doesn’t want it enough... if he really wanted it he'd have ignored the guy". That's easy to say and I'd have to politely disagree with you on balance. That's because, for many of us, starting out in art can be very frustrating and can make you feel incredibly exposed. It can basically feel like you are putting a representation of yourself out there to be openly criticised and it can take time to get used to the feeling of being so vulnerable. Nowadays I don't mind much at all if someone doesn't 'like' my work (although it does depend somewhat on the person - we all have those people we just really want to impress)... I can now say to myself quite happily... that's their opinion... who am I to judge them? I don't 'like' some art but I love other pieces... so if I can have such wildly particular and varying opinions then why can't they? Each to their own!!
Back on topic - Needless to say, I did my best to give this artist a pep talk… “buddy if I can do it so can you… paint the most beautiful pictures you can imagine and ignore him… in fact paint overly beautiful pictures just to spite the fucker…”
This just reminded me that every person has a journey that they have to make in life. What are we going to become? What will our life mean? For many it’s a journey regarding spirituality, family, travel, trying to be a good person, make a difference somehow, accruing lots of money, sex and more sexy sex sex… but for some of us it’s also about a creative development that enables the rest… Harnessing the power of the mind to try to say something meaningful.
If you have that desire somewhere inside, listen to it please and act on it in any small way you can. I guarantee that if you make it to advanced age you won’t look back and wish you’d created less!!
It doesn’t matter if you are a barber, plumber, doctor… I’m here to tell you that that doesn’t have to be all you are. It also doesn’t mean you can’t change… or you can’t be 2 or more things simultaneously or intermittently. Who are you gonna let set limits for your own life?
Not trying to pontificate too much but I think the moral of my first blog might be twofold (the first inspirational and the second a warning).
1 – If you have a creative desire inside please honour it. Not for anyone else, just do it for you.
2 – If you are in any privileged position of leadership or influence (that includes friends and family) by all means give up on your own dreams if you want… not many people will mourn your decision... BUT DO NOT FUCK ALL OVER OTHER PEOPLE’S ASPIRATIONS!
We all have so much power - use it kindly and wisely! That's probably a good place to finish!
May the force be with you.
aka New Blood Pop