I’m not depressed, I’m an artist. Remember this, for it is my new motto with which to deal with certain aspects of life. In a book I once wrote, “Now, actually being an alcoholic is an unhealthy way to live, but pretending to be one for the night helps break life up into more manageable chunks.” If you pretend to not be an artist, I don’t think anything good will come of it. If you wake up wondering why you feel depressed and unfulfilled in the morning, it’s possible that you’re simply an artist. This one simple realization can make a large difference in your day to day life.
Accept who you are and always look on the bright side. Pretending to not be an artist will probably make you depressed, but actually being an artist opens up a whole city of plausible excuses and diversions to sensible responsibility. For example, when you’re an artist you can say, “I can’t do math today, my brain patterns are too nonlinear.” This is a no-go statement in the engineering world, you have to do math because that’s how we understand the natural world. “I can’t work today, I’m in a creative void, I’ll stay at the cafe all day drinking espresso.” To be fair, I don’t think this is reality, it’s just what I’ve see from the movies and over-dramatic artistic characters. I imagine myself more like a poor Howard Hughes, who wasn’t an artist in the traditional sense, but had the fantastic ability to run an engineering empire and be a director of photography in the same lifetime. Or maybe like a Paul Verhoeven, who holds degrees in math and physics, but also directed Starship Troopers and Total Recall.
For the longest time I thought I was an engineer who just liked to draw in math class. I figured it would stop at some point and I’d just use these talents to design car handles or airplane designs or something. Now I’ve realized that I got it all wrong these first 33 years, and my birthday is just after Marche du Nain Rouge, so there must be some Detroit devil inside me, and I think it’s time to admit defeat and start dealing with being an artist. Understand, I don’t really know what it means to be an artist, I only know the engineer lifestyle. I never attended art school and haven’t a clue how to act or conduct myself. I already wear colorful shoes and carry pens around to write and draw with. There’s a room in my apartment dedicated to painting and I have a pair of jeans stained with colored latex. What else should I be doing?
I don’t have a specific medium that I work in. I was asked once what texture I use when painting – and my first impulse was to ask the woman what the fuck she was talking about. As I understand it, texture is what the surface of your painting looks like (I thought it was just a layering technique in Photoshop). Always a new language to learn. I like to think that I specialize in ideas, and they come out in painting, video, digital photography, whatever is at hand. The biggest problem is the need for expression, and this is the friction point with traditional engineering persona. Here is where the friction of the situation leads to conflict in the brain. For some personalities it’s easy, or at least normal to just calculate things and to find solutions in a number format and to be done with it. It would be nice if that were enough, but it’s not. I want to hold a thing in my hand. I like to bring something from nothingness into being, from concept to final product. It’s scary to stare down a blank white canvas and it’s a rush to look upon the final work. When you get used to feeling that rush in the studio, you naturally want to feel it elsewhere, it becomes a normal entity in your emotional map. However, it’s difficult to attain in a traditional engineering world. The only sane solution is to find a happy medium. Something which includes design and science, something where the two sides can coexist and benefit one another. I don’t know what the future brings, but hopefully I’ll find out soon enough.