Inside A Bitter Artist There May Be A Basic Person

It’s strange to be writing again. It’s strange to be doing anything creative again. It’s strange being a producer, rather than a consumer, a consumer of whatever is out there, whatever is interesting, funny, shocking, outrageous, rather than producing something with any of those qualities.

Producer versus consumer, creator versus commentator, maker versus aggregator, it seemed inconceivable to me over the years to have been the latter in these binaries. I am an artist! I am a creative! I live on a higher plane than others, I said to myself. I don’t have to show up when I consume. I don’t have to know the full story to be a commentator. I don’t have to develop my craft to be an aggregator. Basic powers of cognitive ability and pattern recognition (this makes me angry, this seems to be popular with others) is needed to be the latters.

Credit: Tiberio Gracco

I have changed over the years, ever since the writing of the very first blog post on Blogger. (I’m sure you can find it here in the archives.) Back then, I was a tortured “artist” – being very tortured and producing very little art, except in short and intense spurts. Now, I am a “frustrated” “artist” – not frustrated and not making art. I have however identified too deeply with that frustration such that that frustration has become me. The frustration has solidified into bitterness. It could be possible to find an object of my bitterness, but that would be dishonest. There is no object of my bitterness or frustration, there is no deep existential unease, and I am at peace with myself. But it’s like the smell of shit in a clean bathroom. It stays for a while. And you can’t ignore it unless you’re lazy or delusional.

The truth is that I find it hard to read a book, to sit down and listen to a piece of music, without it intuitively being pushed to a background activity, while I pick up my phone to do something else. Even if it’s just to stare at the Home screen. I find it hard to watch TV. I find it hard to read a magazine or just sitting down with a musical instrument to jam a little bit. Writing is hard. Even journalling parts of ideas or random thoughts seems the last possible choice when I have some downtime because my hands instinctively go to my phone. I wake up and fall asleep to the sight of books, CDs, vinyls, and DVDS, sitting quietly while they gather dust. My apartment has become a museum to and for a person who doesn’t really exist anymore – or is a fugitive in a new, unexpected existence.

I am not even bitter like I used to be! I am growing in inner peace and serenity by the day. But it has come at the cost of long years of artistic malnourishment. Nobody can grow on occasional injections of essential vitamins and minerals. I just want to sit on TikTok or YouTube, or scroll through social media, or watch endless streams of videos on Facebook Watch. I have become that person I decried many years ago.

It feels like I am a basic person who has been hiding in a fossil. Maybe I was artistic before and the years in the fossil ate away at me.

Looking Back on the Colories Series

What started off as a curiosity with what could be done with a rubber duck, became a month-long comics series. I have been really moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on there, and the range of people I’ve encountered.

Yesterday was the last post on Instagram.

seize the sky.
ep 30, Colories

I wanted to reflect on the process, my favorite posts, lessons learned, and what’s next.

The Process

The goal was to produce a piece within an hour or two every day, for as long as the idea or concept seemed interesting to me. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the production or execution or polish. I just wanted to make art every day.

I really enjoyed making this series. Sometimes, I would get the idea a few minutes before taking the photo. And at other times, an idea would come to me and simmer for a while.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. I decided all that when I took the shot. This kept me out of my head and ensured that the idea would be simple.

A few times, I ran out of ideas and so I would play with a cultural reference, pun, or simple using a prop.

ep 27, Colories – can you guess the reference?
ep 24, Colories – “turnin’ trix on myself”
ep 20, Colories – “amongst the scraps”

My Favorite Posts

Episode 16

“I’m a shit sandwich”

Episode 8

It was fun making the double exposures in Photoshop.

                          “all over the place”

Episode 1

I found the card in some advertisements in my mail.

“we’re OK and you’re OK”

Episode 7

My first stop-motion animation film. I really became interested in the medium because of this episode. There’s a separate write-up here.

Lessons Learned

  1. Show up every day. I made this a part of my daily morning routine and it paid off. I looked forward to producing something, even on days where I felt low or empty. The process, rather than inspiration, carried me.
  2. Listen to the weirdest idea. This is risky at first because it’s counter-intuitive. I thought that weird had to be planned or part of some greater theme. But just noticing and then following through with a weird idea is satisfying.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in execution. Enforcing the external constraint of time (doing it quickly) helped me stay pragmatic in how I would make the episode.
  4. It doesn’t have to be episodic to be episodic. The whole series is more an exploration of feelings and states, rather than a conventional narrative of a rubber duck. Sometimes, it was about me and sometimes the duck personified an idea or a problem, or just a human struggle. Keeping it loose and going also helped me to stay current and just keep on producing.

What’s Next?

I’m about to finish a 30-day doodle challenge. I will write a similar post about that.

And then… I want to make more art! And learn how to draw. And paint digitally out in the world.

Keep checking back!

Film Doesn’t Always Have to Make Sense

I promised myself earlier this week that I would spend some time immersing myself in the work of Debora Prado. She started following me recently on Twitter and from there, I found their website. She’s a really talented visual artist.

I watched all the video clips she has of her film work. It’s unabashedly conceptual and visually striking. I watched U for Una who Slipped Down a Drain and Janela a few times. At first, I was trying to parse them with my ‘rational’ film mind – where’s the story, what’s the point? Then, after the 3rd or 4th viewing, I reminded myself that it’s meant to be conceptual. I actually found that upon this realization, I felt my mind ease, as if a nervous grip on a steering wheel relaxed, and I could just appreciate it for what it is.

Beautiful imagery of a young woman in Janela.

janela

Deft lighting in the opening frames of Una.

una

After a while, working in the film industry as an entrepreneur dulls your senses; you think in terms of good story, good action, and good production. Going through her work encourages me to get back into a routine that I had last year of visiting art galleries every Saturday morning to train my artistic eye.

I just need to think of a concept…