Artistically Honest

I’ve been painting again. I love to paint. It’s something dirty and real and very easy to convey when people ask “What kind of art do you make,”. Which happens to be a question I find myself struggling to answer lately. Painting has been extremely therapeutic for me. It’s given me space from the computer, and allowed a lot of stress relief and meditation.

I started this piece kind of haphazardly, using materials I’d never used before; I knew I wanted to do something metallic that would match my bathroom tiles. It worked. I made a painting, I am an artist after all. It was meant to be. (Between you and I, there was a huge mess made when doing this piece and I’m certain I had more paint on myself than the canvas. It was a perfect moment of creativity & freedom coming together and distracting me from the usual stress that comes from being your own boss and trying to build something authentic. I’d like to share my creative process more in the future because it’s always an adventure.)

Sometimes I feel like a fraud when people ask what my job is and I reply, with a smile, “I’m an artist.” – So actually purchasing a canvas, mixing paints, creating something that wasn’t there before,it’s really self-validating. I needed this to feel real today.

It’s nice to call yourself an artist and show someone a painting. It feels more traditional. And it keeps the imposter syndrome, temporarily, at bay. But I am not a painter. I paint, yes, but I also – and more often – illustrate, produce music, write poetry and lyrics, compose photos and process everything in-between; I create. I am a creator. What kind of artist am I? I guess acreative one? Not everyone understands that being Artist is not just a job or a title, it’s a way of life.

Zaccy Original Art Mixed Media Painting 001
Zaccy Original Art Mixed Media Painting #001, 12″ x 36″ on canvas

I find I’ve been afraid of disappointing others. And I’m trying not to be. I’m trying to learn it’s OK to say ‘No’. Being influenced is good but I don’t want to be making art for the sake of pleasing others; my brand, Jigglypunk, has been growing organically at a perfectly acceptable rate for me – sometimes I get comments and suggestions that sound great on the surface but really don’t do much for my soul and what I hope to create with Jigglypunk.

I know myself and I know what I want. For example, I enjoy photography but I can’t just start posting photos of basketball players and golf courses because “they’re trending” or what sells right now. Ew. If I’m trying to build something I am proud of, something that reflects my creativity and ultimately helps to define my artistic identity, positioning the brand in a direction that I’m not passionate about would be the death of it. Is there money to be made with sports, golf courses, kale etc.? Hell yeah. But it just isn’t me. It isn’t authentic. It feels dirty to think about creating a piece of art like that. Sure, I might wake up and find a huge passion for something new – say, cooking, for example – and it would manifest itself into my work. But that is the natural way. That is how it should be and how it will be.

It’s a lot of work pursuing your own creativity, I do a little bit of everything and it is very fun to explore. I like to feel my way with things. Like these paintings, it happens that I hadn’t painted in such a long time and I was beginning to describe myself as a photographer when people would ask what kind of artist I am. Different mediums are like different flavors to me. And I’m 32 flavors and then some. As an artist, I find people try to box us in. I don’t like that. I find myself doing it just to appease others. It’s like I water myself down to make the conversation easier, but then it goes way out of control. I used to think I was the only one who felt this way.

Photography isn’t as easy as everyone thinks, I feel such sadness when people say things like “oh, do you shoot weddings? You should! blah-blah-blah.”. My time, as an artist, should be spent building my portfolio with work that is authentic to me and my identity. Even though I have the skills to do a number of things, if my heart isn’t in it then it’s just another job – and that is not living an authentic and artistic life to me. That sounds tragic.

When you try to please everybody, as an artist, it’s an unnatural creative process. That leads to a self-inflicted identity crisis. You should pursue your creativity in a way that is fulfilling and artistically honest. It’s okay to go out of your comfort zone, collaborate and try new things; but it shouldn’t feel like you’re faking an artistic orgasm.

So here I am, putting my foot down and making whatever the hell I want to make. Seducing my creativity or letting it seduce me. Call me whatever kind of artist you want. Just don’t think I’ll be living in a box. I’ll be outside the box. Climbing the box. Conquering every fucking box I’m put into, honestly.

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