I feel as though lately the shape of my consciousness change. My priorities have shifted, and I’ve noticed in retrospect a gravitation toward calm and peace, in stark contrast to the busyness and calamity that I would often seek out in my twenties.
I think I read somewhere, someone more eloquent than I am, saying something along the lines of art being a way of realising yourself, manifesting yourself, and I think I kind of get it now in the kind of way some lessons can only be learnt through experience not words. Things have been very different for me internally since the Fever exhibition, which although unseen by most people, was probably one of the most significant creative breakthroughs I’ve had as an artist since I started drawing these images.
I think I spent a long time seeking out chaos as a distraction from looking any deeper inside myself, or at least I didn’t understand myself yet. Filling my time with busy work, attention rattling around from project to project. I remember in a drunken haze outside a convenience store confiding in my friend Sonny (also an artist) that my work was too inconsistent, too all over the place, but it was all I knew how to do. I got bored so easily, I couldn’t stick with one thing. At that point I had been doing music videos, art direction, styling, on top of my art and illustration stuff. The illustration projects began to carve out my identity for me, taking it in indeliberate directions, I felt powerless to define myself, there was nothing connecting everything, and the confusion was depressing. I would console myself with the mantra I learnt from my Honours year at art school, that the only way to understand the work was to keep making the work, but the more I made the more confusing it was, more directions, more odd socks.
Fever was the first time I’ve managed to understand my world somewhat - the feeling, the mood, where the characters come from. Fever tied together several orphaned works and ideas over the past several years and gave them a world to live in, yet there is just enough mystery, just enough that I still don’t know, to keep things interesting. I see more now than I ever did, I have a new clarity, the ideas just pour out, I’m excited, Fever has made me calm.
As I’ve gone through life I’ve closed a few doors. I feel as though I’ve done my time as the stressed and busy artist archetype, it was aging me, making me an asshole, and gave me validation from the wrong places. When you’re an artist and literally creating your own world, it’s easy to attribute any success to your work and your own doing, which is true, but not the whole truth, because by that same association when bad things happen you begin to think it’s because of you also.
When the spotlight moves (and it does) from you to someone else, or a different trend entirely, you think it’s you not working hard enough, when you’re depressed you think it’s your fault because your work isn’t good enough, when in fact so much is actually out of your control. Failure can be out of your control, and so can success. I still remember people thinking I was on some kind of hiatus during the busiest and backbreaking years of my life.
I’ve both been and been on the receiving end of the tortured busy artist archetype, I’ve hurt people because I’ve been that person, and been hurt by people like that. It makes me gag now. Everyone gets to a point where they think they’re working harder than anyone else, it makes them feel better, they lose empathy, and feel justified in their arrogance. It’s an unfortunate part of success that I’ve noticed time and time again, and each small success validates a lot of shitty behaviour.
Sometimes I wonder if this newfound calm and aversion for all things stressful and chaotic is going to hinder me somewhat though. The same way a dog bred for dogfighting only survives by staying mad and aggressive. This is a doubt I actually have quite often despite how convinced I might sound so far that I’m on the right path with this newfound calm.
I know calm doesn’t sound as cool as chaos but for now I’m choosing to value people, friendships, and my health both physical and emotional. I want the negative space for ideas to flow, I want peace to make my work, I want insightful conversations with friends, I want a body that I can take to being 150, and I don’t want to feel sad for no reason all the time. My priorities for now are in building this Fever universe further, rather than seeking out busyness as a distraction and a vain perception of personal growth.