Today I turn 40, for me it’s exciting. I honestly didn’t think I would live to see 30, and for a long time I lived like it.
I am beyond grateful for the time I’ve been given and work extremely hard to make the most of it.
Three years ago, I made a commitment to dedicate myself to my art. In addition to growing older, my birthday has become a time for me to reflect on my commitment to myself and renew my promise to continue.
My original goal was to be an artist full-time by my 40th birthday. While I’ve been here for a while (My little business is now two-and-a-half years old!), sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
In a city where the cost of living is high and constantly on-the-rise, my finances won’t allow me to have a bad month. The stakes are always escalating and I’m walking a tightrope without a net.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel successful when you are only as good as your last assignment.
Initially, my planned route was much different, and I didn’t give myself a plan B. When things went sideways, I had to just keep going. Sometimes that meant being headstrong and crashing through walls. A lot of times it meant learning from mistakes, paying dues and being humbled.
Along the way, some have tried to let me know “my place”. Sometimes people tell me my art isn’t very good, or that it is depressing, or that it isn’t really “art” at all. A couple people have literally laughed in my face.
Honestly, it’s enough to make you doubt yourself sometimes. Carving your own path is full of uncertainty, it’s scary as shit and figuring out where you fit in is a staggering task.
I got so used to being told no one wanted to hear what I had to say, it freaked me out when people started listening.
When I am honest with myself and speak my truth, no one can put me in a box because no one else can be me. I know “my place” because I built it for myself, of my own design, from the ground up.
Also, I’m not nearly done yet, but that’s okay I’m on my way.
I know that there are other photographers out there that are far better than I can ever hope to be. But I also know that no other photographer can say what I can because this is my own personal brand of hard-won authenticity.
In my experience masterful art is full of ugly and harsh truths, because the truth cannot be hidden. When something inside of a piece speaks or rings true to the human condition, as a viewer we are forced to engage it.
With that said, I also believe that art itself is inherently a lie.
To create is to acknowledge the futility of existence and to remain defiant in the hopes that a part of your work will remain immune to the ravages of time and connect with a viewer in a real an honest way, both now and in the future.
It’s an attempt to capture conceptually the fleeting, ephemeral, to be documented for the sake of posterity. Art seeks to make the impermanent eternal.
At its best, I think that art shares both the wisdom of experience and the cruelty of time.
Regardless of field, as an artist’s tool, there is none more useful than the truth. The truth is often raw, vulnerable, messy. Sharing it can leave you feeling extremely exposed. But harnessed properly, it’s also extremely powerful and undeniable.
There are parts of both life and myself that used to frighten me, that I’ve learned to love and embrace. There is this void inside of me. A giant black jagged crack, running the length of my heart.
Like any good empty space, it’s endless, cold and dark. If I gaze inside of it for too long, I can see a tiny sliver of light. I like to imagine it’s my reflection at the bottom.
Sometimes I pretend it’s a different version of me in another life, looking into an empty space that I warn to stay back.
It used to scare the shit out of me. It used to make me feel like a broken person inside. It had been used against me by people that knew me best.
Now I acknowledge that art is the process of taking everything you love in life and throwing directly into that void. Learning to understand even the darkest parts of yourself allows you to utilize them in ways previously unthought of.
I think if you could listen close enough making art is the sound of a heart slowly breaking. The crackle of that giant black hole spidering out into countless tiny fissures.
Like scattering seeds, on top of pristine pavement knowing that a sidewalk will eventually crack, and in those tiny hidden spaces, your roots will rise. I know I still have a long hard road ahead of me, but I’m up for the challenge.
In the coming year, I hope you see continued passion, obsession, dedication, and commitment. I hope you see a new level of candor, fearlessness, and a new altitude of skillset as I shape the colors of my world.
I am so appreciative of the time and the voice that I have been given, thank you for letting me share them both with you.