Right now I’m going through somewhat of a tough time. The instability that surrounds me feels like it will close in at any moment and I’ll crumble right along with it. And so in an attempt to try to be my own happiness, to be my own best friend, I am going to write a letter to myself (and hopefully it’ll resonate with you too).
You’re turning 26 soon and let me tell you: you are exactly where you are supposed to be. It may seem like everything’s been for naught, like everything feels like a waste of time. But I promise you that it is not. I promise you that you are going to make a difference to someone, somewhere… and soon. The things you create and the ways you love are limitless and there is no reason to keep that from the world.
One of the most agonizing parts of making art is trying to explain your work to other people. A majority of artists would probably agree with me when I say art work is supposed to speak for itself; that’s why we make art work in the first place. If we could have expressed the idea/concept/feeling in words, then we would be writers and poets. Our gesture is our word and our end product is the essay.
But of course, the world just doesn’t work that way. Audiences want to understand what they see using context and background of the creator themselves. Thus the ever-annoying request for the “artist statement” (as if the work itself didn’t state anything already). If you look closely enough, I think all art is merely a reflection or manifestation of the personality of the artist. Sometimes they can cite theories, events, and other matters that informed their original purpose – but in the end, I kind of just don’t even care. I know that sounds pretty terrible to say as a person in the art world, but regardless of how much I learn about the artist or what the work is about, all I really need to know is how the work makes me feel.
Artwork is a form of communication that relies heavily on the success of impressing internal change within a viewer. It’s a personal experience informed by subjective opinions and histories. Work that makes you gasp, work that that makes you cringe, and work that makes you love and hate – it all did something noticeable to you and perhaps even only you.
I am pretty uncomfortable and sometimes terrified when people as me what my work is “about”. I wish there were a simple elevator speech I could regurgitate on command. And I wish all my work had a single meaning or perspective, easily understood with a concise goal in mind. But here’s the thing. It just isn’t.
I do my best work when I don’t have a plan. When I am free to act on impulse without worrying about meaning or judgment, the marks flow through my hands readily and I enter a state of pseudo-meditation. I guess you could say I’m “in the zone”. Letting go of the “statement” of my work gives it the room to breathe and find its own visual voice. After a few of these sessions, I can sometimes say that the drawing is complete, but rarely am I ever proud of what I’ve made. The equal amounts of loving and loathing seem to negate each other and they just are what they are.
My work is me. It’s from me, it’s about me. Everything that I am as a person has some sort of influence on what comes out of my hands. My history, my aspirations, my self-imposed handicaps… it’s all there on the paper.
Catch-up dinners with close friends are a wonderful thing. Sometimes they are just casual and fun and other times they become some of the most inspiring and motivational conversations you’ll ever have. Last night I had one of the latter kind with a friend who’s known me since the beginning of college. She’s seen me be everything from ridiculous to amazing and seems to always understand the beauty in the things I do. Pretty priceless, huh? We got into a discussion over our current states of restlessness, almost drowning in our desire to make our dreams manifest into reality. She read aloud to me Linda Holmes’ article on NPR, Hey Kid: Thoughts for the Young Oddballs We Need So Badly. I highly suggest you read the entire thing, but here are a few of my favorite parts.
The fact that nobody is doing what you imagine doing is the beginning of your idea, not the end. People want to read things that haven’t been written, see things that haven’t been made, and hear things that don’t yet exist. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see yourself reflected in what’s being shown to you, let alone what’s being heavily marketed to you.
Everything worthwhile has a strong feeling in it, which means if you’re going to make great stuff, you’re going to have strong feelings. This is part of why people associate artistic types with moody outbursts or temper tantrums or lying around saying, “Oh life!” And it’s sort of true.
Out here, we are already waiting for you. We are already anxious for you. Out here, we want to see your stuff. Don’t get me wrong — some of us will disappoint, reject, confuse, misunderstand, mislead, or even exploit you. (Not the good ones of us on those last couple. But some.) But we want to see your stuff. Keep going.
UGH. That is SO good right? Of course after reading it, I’m thinking “I wish I had written that,” but more importantly I wish I had read that when I was younger. The world is prime for our individuality to shine if we allow it to. If we believe in our original thoughts/ideas/creations and put them out there and exercise them, who knows what will happen. And the beauty is in our possibility, our potential. We – meaning I – need to stop trying to arrange ourselves to be reflections of icons of success or cultural importance and instead place priority on becoming a genuine and unfiltered reflection of the inner creator.
I’m usually spouting one-liners or quoting inspirational pins about how to chase after and believe in your creativity. While I fully stand behind all of that motivational media, I sometimes forget that creativity permeates everything and dreams do not solely entail artistic pursuits. Thankfully I was reminded when I read this blog post by Lisa Jakub. She cites a Thought Catalog article on “drones” versus “dreamers” and shares her distaste for the negative connotation often given to more traditional 9-to-5ers in the world. The dictionary definition of a dream is a strongly desired goal or purpose. There are no other parameters, no right or wrong, and no mention of any social norms. All that matters is the instinctual feeling of wanting a certain life for yourself.
I’ve lived most of my life on the fence between my creative self and my intellectual self. The latter was of course always touted as the more likely moneymaker of the two, yet here I am slowly dragging my feet through the mud of being artist. While this is a valid and worthwhile choice, I cannot pretend that I am above or any more enlightened than others who would have chosen the other way. If I had desired to become a doctor or if I had desired to major in technology, I would have done it to the best of my ability and that would have been just as admirable as what I am doing now.
While I’m always gushing over other traditionally “creative” individuals – artisans, choreographers, designers, chefs, etc – today (and hopefully moving forward as well) I would like to congratulate those who pursue the dreams that are not so directly related to my own. To the doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, teachers, and everything in-between: I appreciate your dreams more than I can ever say. It is your creativity within your chosen profession that keeps the world functioning, growing, evolving. Your mark, while it might not a visual one done by hand, is a thing of beauty as well.
So if you enjoy what you’re doing, if you are living out your desires… keep doing that, whatever it may be. Have faith in the value of your dreams and allow that to be your guide. (Now it’s time for me to peace out because I’m getting cheeezy).
[ image via tumblr ]
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As you can probably already tell, I’m addicted to media. Thanks to technology and ever-present social media, I have endless sources for inspiration to chase after my dreams no matter how defeated I convince myself into feeling. One of the best resources for my inspiration is none other than the every day addiction we know as Pinterest. I have two accounts – a personal one and one for this blog – but T&B gets pinned on way more nowadays. Below you’ll find some of my favorite recent pins. Be sure to follow Tide & bloom on Pinterest to see more of my daily obsessions!
on taking chances : pin // source
elephant ceramics for milk farm road shop : pin // source
One of the biggest mental setbacks I have is the fear that I’m not as great as the people I admire and aspire to be like (artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc). Those beautiful creative professionals seem like they have everything together so effortlessly and they continue to surprise me with their ability to stay fresh, relevant, and inspirational. Despite knowing that they all had to start somewhere, I always find myself feeling so far behind with so much left to go. Why do I feel like I have to start big and so close to the end?
I keep forgetting that you don’t begin a success. You become a success.
Now that I’m an “adult”, I no longer have school assignments leading my art practice. This is liberating and terrifying. Without any limits, how do you chose to represent yourself? Wait, I’m wrong. There are definitely limits – the limits of self-doubt, financial resources, physical space, mentor support. I’ve been slowly and painstakingly inching towards finding imagery from within. While I could very easily just draw from life (and sometimes I do), my true self is only revealed in abstract gestures. What you see here is a small series from my sketchbook that I’ve titled “Lock”. They’re all 14 x 11 inches and done in Micron pen.
I envisioned these in my mind laying in bed one night, thinking about how to distill my mark to a pure form. They end up looking a lot like feathers or hair (hence the series title) and I love – yes, I love – how delicate they ended up. The movement in each line is subtle and sometimes strained, but always organic. It’s really difficult to take accurate pictures of my drawings, but I edited them to the best of my ability.
I decided to share this series as a part of the Love Yourself Linkup because the act of exposing my drawings is an act of self-love. It takes everything in me to be proud of myself. If you know me in real life then you know how ridiculously true this is. I’m terribly self-conscious about speaking about my work or showing my work – even more so if you’re my friend or loved one. So here I am, allowing myself to receive whatever reaction may come… including praise.
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Every few weeks I tend to experience an identity crisis. I have the awful plague of being a creative and ambitious individual which means nothing is ever good enough, including myself. In order to pull myself out of this hopeless hole, I have to do something that will lead me back to remembering who I really am. Sometimes it’s rambling on to my boyfriend about how I’m too far behind to do anything worthwhile in my life, to which he usually responds with reassuring words about how everyone loves everything I do. Other times it’s chatting with best friends who usually tell me how much they admire my strength and courage.
Today it happens to be that I’m reminded of who I am by my birth date. Everyone loves reading descriptions of themselves and their potential futures, in hopes that their own self-image and desired goals will be confirmed as what destiny had intended for them. While I do believe that we are in control of our own lives, I also think you can’t get anywhere without knowing thyself.
My life has been riddled with fear of failure and self-doubt of my talent, despite all the evidence of my success. But thanks to divine luck, I have a best friend slash life coach who has a never-ending arsenal of encouraging words of wisdom. During my visit to see her graduate, she was actually the one giving me source for life inspiration. She handed me three books by Sark and asked me to choose one of them, as a gift to take home with me. I chose The Bodacious Book of Succulence: Daring to Live Your Succulent Wild Life.
For this week’s Love Yourself Linkup, I present to you my favorite excepts from this motivational read paired with pictures from a study abroad trip I took to Ireland about five years ago (I still yearn to go back).
A succulent is a plant that gets its nourishment and water from the inside – it replenishes itself.
I wish for you the ability to self-replenish, to be juicy, ripe, filled to over-flowing.
We deserve to be the caretakers for our spirits and dreams, and this means truly sensing and listening for our most alive route.
Step back into the light of your creative purpose even if you’re not sure what it is.