Work is Exhausting

There are days where creating is difficult. Where I work, people don’t create. They spend more time ingesting media than they do contributing. This isn’t to say that they are worse off, it’s just a difficult environment to be a content creator in. It isn’t conducive to the lifestyle that I want to have.

Working 45 hours a week drains you and if you’re not highly motivated, you’re probably not creating. When I was going to school, I had time to talk with artists. We could critique each other’s work and talk about our plans. When we had an idea, we could ping it off in conversation. Where I’m at now, I’m too exhausted at the end of the day.

I can’t wait to leave this job in a few years. Go back with the artists and create blogs and vlogs, and paint, and draw, and get back into photography. If I could cut this job in half; make half the money and work half the time – I would. But for now, I’ll keep creating like this because I don’t know what else to do.

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Quality or Quantity

Is it better to have quality content or to have lots of content? Often on YouTube, users that make great videos only have a few of them. While content creators that make mediocre content tend to have an endless amount of videos. For a very long time I thought it was better to have more videos than less high quality videos.

What this means as an artist/content creator is; having high quality work is more valuable than having low quality work. It’s also better to have a larger portfolio than a smaller one. Therefore it’s best to have a large body of work that is high quality. However, it’s extremely difficult to combine the two.

Artist tend to have a problem: we always want better quality work. When we create something that is beautiful and perfect, we want to create something that is more beautiful and more perfect. It doesn’t matter what the previous quality was, as long as the next is better. This drives progress because it forces the creators to motivate themselves to produce better content, thus increasing skill.

However, it often is intermixed with unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We have difficulty accepting our work and being proud of our products. Sometimes we create crap content. Everyone does.

Anyways, for a long time I thought it was better to have more content. More content means that you could explore more areas and find what you like best. It also means that you have a larger portfolio which could cater to a larger group of consumers. By creating a lot of work, you grow significantly.

However, mass production doesn’t always drive improvement. This blogging project is about creating a large body of content. Its purpose is to teach me how to write. By sitting down each night and finding a topic to talk about, I’m learning a skill. At the same time, writing daily doesn’t give me time to edit, or really think about concepts. It’s very much a produce, produce, produce, mindset.

As the last two weeks come about, I’ve been getting this sickened feeling in my stomach. This blogging project took a lot of time. It’s produced 350 blog posts so far and more than 120,000 words. Overall, this is the most I’ve written in my life.

The last days though, I’ve been reflecting. This year has been full of adventures. I’ve recorded some of them in blog posts and others in pictures. The mass quantity has forced me to learn how to write about any situation at any given time. Which is a great skill but I can’t help but feel that it’s also been a poison. Right now I’m rambling. There is purpose to this text but nothing that is worth editing. Mass quantity breeds ignorance of the process.

This work isn’t great. It’s just work. At the end, I don’t know how many posts I will keep up. I learned from it but it’s not something I want to show off. The lesson was learned and I’ve grown from it but this isn’t my portfolio. It’s not a complete version of myself.

A couple years ago, a photographer I loved removed all of her work from Flickr. I was absolutely devastated. Her work was a huge inspiration. The photos she posted were one of the reasons that I started taking photos myself. I didn’t know what to do when I couldn’t look through her work.

I was devastated and vowed that I would never remove my work. I wanted others to be able to see my growth. They could also look through a large body of work. Perhaps they would see that I’m human and they could create too.

As this project halts, I don’t want to display my content. I want to remove it and start fresh. It takes a lot to start from scratch but I don’t like this content. It’s not polished. I can’t share it with everyone. It’s imperfect.

I can’t answer whether having a large body of work is better or worse than having a higher quality of work. That’s something you have to decide. Would you rather put a lot of time into creating one excellent piece or five pieces? When you go online, would you rather see five mediocre videos of your favorite YouTuber or one awesome video? It’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself: quality or quantity?

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Foreign Emotions like Foreign Languages

You know how they say that blind people dream don’t dream in images, they dream through their other senses? If a blind person dreamed of an image, would they know how to interpret it?  When you hear a foreign language, you can’t understand it because you haven’t learned how to interpret it. When a painter walks up to the canvas, they are translating from a blind man’s dream. The feeling they possess is intangible and they bring it from gibberish to something that is hopefully comprehensible. An artist simply wants to evoke or express that unintelligible thought.

The difficulty is that many artists don’t understand that they are trying to translate something that doesn’t have a set way of being expressed. There isn’t a correct way to express happiness or love or confusion. Essentially an artist tries to replicate a feeling but cannot perfectly match it. They leave their personality and interpretation instead. It’s like a child trying to forge their parent’s signature, perhaps it looks generally the same but it’s noticeably imperfect.

However, if you learn many languages, you can understand a new language faster and more efficiently. If a painter learns how to draw, play guitar, sculpt, and dance, he will be better able to translate his emotions. Sometimes a feeling can be best expressed with a certain type of art. If I know how to write, maybe my emotion would be best expressed through words. Only knowing how to write would severely limit my expression.

On the other side, inspiration comes in a myriad of ways. As I’ve branched away from photography I’ve realized that art is very fluid. Paintings express memories in a different way than a photograph does. A song from a particular time in my life can hold more emotion than a photograph.

Why is it that we, as artists, always crave inspiration? Is it because we aren’t able to express things we don’t understand? We have these emotions but we don’t know how to show them to other people. It’s as though someone is yelling at us in a foreign language and we’re desperately trying to understand what they’re saying. We want to reply or do what they’re asking but we simply don’t understand.

Lately I feel like I’ve started learning new languages. The emotions I go through can be understood better even if I don’t know that language. I can somewhat make out what I’m feeling inside and how to transcribe it into something to share with others.

The point of this post is to say that don’t try to force inspiration. It will come and go through your life and in different ways. I don’t paint or draw but I feel emotions that could only be felt through painting. There are days when words feel like the best way to express myself. Just learn to be receptive to the world and you’ll see the elephant in the middle of the room: everything in life is inspiration and everything is an emotion. You just have to be receptive enough to take that feeling in.

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P.S. The layout is changing again, so please be patient with me as everything settles down!