Just a couple of days ago, I was trying to be a little more reflective on my life. I mean, I was really trying to get a sense of a lot of things, trying to mimic Sherlock Holmes’ Mind Palace to see how the world has affected me so far. The conclusion was not really entirely that complicated but there was a thing or two that captivated my mind as of the moment. And one of them was art.
Artists of all sorts have a lot of power wielded on to them. I was in an art course in UST after all, and I loved every single second of it. I love the complicated art theories of the Bauhaus movement, the hands-on craft, the caffeinated-sleepless nights, the high pressure critiques of professors, and the long quest of finding inspiration. I love that at the end of the day, my grades are based on what I enjoy doing the most. Art school was one of the best choices I’ve made in my life, and probably the most complicated one also. The most obvious downside is paying thousands of pesos every year to make room for different kinds of materials for art projects and plates, sleep deprivation and the practical concern about the utility of a college graduate with a degree in BFA. But there are also not-so-complicated ones. While my non-art friends were simply saving the world with their encrypted codes, calculating numbers, combining covalent bonds, I was being trained and graded on things like “wrong typefaces, bigger logos, and appropriate color combinations”. They’re doing crucial work, to which we should all applaud, while I, I am doing this “following my heart” thing for four years.
To be honest, art is not really a trivial thing to devote four years (even my whole life) to. I’ve spent four years – and even more years or so after – thinking about what kind of craft am I going to devote myself on and learning to “grow” my critical brain. The kind of “growth” that I am referring to is trying to assess something like specific typefaces or learning all sorts of art movement from the 15th century to 21st. Asking, “Why? Why is it that?” or “Why did you represent that with that?” always gives me the nerves. The kind of “growth” that questions everything to gain knowledge about the world to make your resulting work more critical, more informed, and more interesting. Even though I don’t really have that “let’s take it to the streets” bone in my body, I know, that because of my art education, that I have the power. Well technically, superpowers that I’d like to share with you. And please take note that this is not only for art-school students or artistic people of all sorts. It’s for those who have a creative bone in their body who has been doubting themselves for a long time. The visual people are always welcome.
ART POWER #1 : MEDIA IS YOUR MOST POWERFUL TOOL.
How many of us have blogs, magazines, and all sorts of art practices within our reach? Most of us do, and that’s why you are reading this blog post right now. Most media are tools for communicating with people. To change the way you think. Artists, like us, would want to change the way how the world see themselves, and that’s technically not a bad thing. Nowadays, mainstream media is the boss. And a lot of us spend a lot of time talking about how inadequate some of these are, but do we actually do something about it? Most of us, yes. We post things on Instagram, Facebook, or creating memes in 9gag and Tumblr because we know we have the power to do a lot about it. We can make our own media because our crazy mind just transports us somewhere into this paradigm! The paradigm to change the way people think, do and feel. And we have to keep it going!
ART POWER#2 : PEOPLE WHO DO LISTEN, ARE ACTUALLY ENTERTAINED.
People like to be entertained. I spend hours and hours of my free time scrolling through numerous GIFs on Tumblr, clicking random cat videos on YouTube, flipping through numerous magazines, and watching non-stop interviews from The Ellen Show or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. These things are engaging because technically, its fun! And people, most of the time, like fun. It is the easiest way to get people to pay attention, and that’s why the entertainment business is always booming with pop culture. There are perfect examples like Discovery Channel’s Myth Busters became a part of this mainstream hit because they make something that seems so utterly complicated in real life to something that is actually fun and endearing to watch. In other words, these types or formats of entertainment are powers.
It is also safe to say that entertaining people is not always the way to go. Please! Artists, let us not all be sucked up into popular culture and mass media is not the only way to go about your work, artistically. There are some topics to which its is complicated, obscure and too inexpressible to be placed on standard mainstream format. The way I see it, experimenting and challenging your work is what drives innovation. To which most art students, like me, are sick of hearing, but this is what keeps art so relevant, so pure, so flexible and so fascinating. We, as artists, have this “You are about to create something out of nothing” mantra, that reminds us that art is something that provides even more possibilities that you can’t even imagine.
ART POWER #3: JUST LIKE LOVE, IMAGES AND WORDS DO MAKE OUR WORLD GO ROUND.
By ratio, 8 or 9 out of 10 people are smart. But we’re easily affected by images of the world around us. Yes, you! Even me! And technically everyone! You know that the world of entertainment deals with girls being stick thin, fair skinned, pointed nose and small chin. That’s the entertainment business! And its unrealistic we all know that, but we resort to it as if we should all look like that cover girl in the magazines. Even if you know that it is someway manipulated via Photoshop by people who are like me, people can implant this so-called “be perfect” to their stubborn brains and its really not healthy at all! But, this idea works the other way around too. Images that are positive can be very influential on how the mind works as well.
I’ll take for example a personal experience of mine. When I was in high school, I never understood why girls were bringing themselves down. I mean I understood why sometimes my mom feels very unconfident with her body, when I personally think, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. I, had tons of self-confidence with how my body looks. But girls who were my age were beginning to put make-up on their faces, dieting of all sorts, and I didn’t understand why.
Came college where I had different sets of friends, different sets of people, and most of them were more or less body conscious. Because of this constant exposure to this negativity with their bodies, I was beginning to look at my body differently. There were times when I wished I had longer legs, or my abdomen area were a little less flabby. I didn’t appreciate how I looked, and subsequently, it’s beginning to take toll on my relationship. I guess, I wanted to look like, that same girl in the magazines. And then I discovered Mika, and Dita Von Teese. Mika’s Big Girls (You Are Beautiful) way back 2009 was my anthem. I was fangirling to the highest level and I realized I didn’t feel that way anymore. Without even consciously clocking it, I was beating to my own anthem. I didn’t feel very body conscious anymore. I worked with what I got. I began to look at hundreds of images of gorgeous, culturally dominant women like Beyonce. This may seem trite, but I think girls understand what I’m saying. This kind of small change creates ripples that radiate out bigger and bigger into your life. If the art in my life can change how I see myself, well then, better watch out society! Art may soon change how people see people of different color, queer people, poor people, and women, and of the earth! Life is just a big space filled with small moments, each of which is and can be remarkably influential.
So, if you are a maker of pictures, please use it for the good. We may all use different approaches such as through speeches, written language, or education. We’ll basically be shaking this shit up! While some of us, we’ll be doing art and that’s okay!
People need to hear voices of all sorts of people that’s why people like me, do art or do written articles like this! We write memoirs, draw portraits, we tell OUR stories that can connect strongly with people to make them understand the world better. I used to think, who would even want to hear what I have to say? Maybe I thought it was very self-indulgent, and very narcissistic – basically I thought it was bad. But the truth is, people love to hear stories and people want to be involved in some way. Art is particularly good at forging human connection. And the world needs more of them.