Running on midnight oil when not really having anything to do in particular is something I’ve been doing more and more to start/complete some form of artwork. I’m not sure why, but when the world is quiet and I’ve consumed enough soda, coffee, milk tea, <insert unhealthy, energizing beverage here>, maybe even enough of it to replace my blood, I end up becoming both frantic and comfortable. The paints slide better, the pencil scribbles mesh together to form a whole picture, the poetry I write is almost effortless.
But sometimes, I don’t get any of the above- just an inability to sleep, a restlessness that won’t get off my back and an endless number of questions that haunt me until I finally do manage to get the Sandman to land some of his magic dust on me. However, good things can rise from the ashes, and from these unfortunate situations, I managed to collect some questions that are actually really important.
One of the grand questions that have been running with me lately is:
Do I, as an artist, have a responsibility to speak up and defend my ideas?
I am usually a very soft-spoken, painfully shy, (actually painfully,) almost mute human being when in unfamiliar settings/ places that have a good amount of people I either don’t know or half know. Even if I had just developed a winning design for a life raft made out of coconut tree trunks and vine that could hold a capacity of 100 people while stranded on an island with 99 others, I probably wouldn’t say anything for awhile. And I’m not sure why that is. Most of the time, I feel that it’s because I somehow find a way to convince myself that my ideas are stupid. I’m not sure if you know this feeling, but it’s a lot like when you’re in class and you have an answer to the teacher’s question in your head but you don’t want to say it because you don’t want to be wrong, and, lo and behold, some other person presents a badly articulated version of your same idea and … here comes the growl of your genius, reprimanding your inability to “… Speak up, ya dolt!”
The truth is that I have a truckload of ideas. I’ll be snoring away and a line of poetry will slap me in the face like a cold piece of meat from the lean beef section in Superstore. It kind of sucks because you have to find a pen at 3am and something to etch your idea in, and you have to deal with the whole “OH GOD, THE LIGHT IN MY POOR, SLEEP-LIDDED EYES,” but I would say it’s worth it. It always is. This blog post here is an attempt to convince myself that my ideas DO deserve to be defended, and WHY.
Here goes nothing!
Why should creative people try to defend their ideas? Because every idea deserves a say. However, it should be an idea of quality. For example, if you’re looking to make a design for an aerodynamic pencil, (God knows why you would be trying to make something like this,) you’re probably not going to want to affix things on it that would make it heavier. Thinking that it’s a good idea to make the pencil out of stone? Sorry dude, probably not going to fly, (haha, puns are fun!,) if you’re wanting to achieve a pencil that can make it halfway across a football field.
Setting aside my weird way of explaining things, the bottom line is: NO ONE IS GOING TO SPEAK UP FOR YOUR IDEAS IF YOU DON’T. You’re just going to have to believe in what you’re doing. You need to keep it alive, fight for it until it becomes this living, breathing, amazing thing. The basis of Apple products started as an idea with Steve Jobs about technology that was both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Hell, even a freaking idea that’s seemingly average, like farming, has taken the world to great places. Imagine if the people who came up with these ideas didn’t stand up for them and kept them in their shiny little noggins? Not sure if I’d have been able to eat that orange I had for dinner, or listen to Disturbed on my iTouch. No farming, no Apple– this alternate, idea-less, universe would be plenty odd.
MORE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SPIT OUT THOSE WICKED IDEAS:
1. They’re awesome.
2. You’re awesome.
3. Nobody but yourself can produce the art you produce, or have precisely the same thought processes as you. If you don’t make that painting, you’re losing out– because yours would’ve been one of a kind.
4. Sharing your ideas can help you grow. People will try to beat your ideas down and this will help your ideas that are born after, be a little bit better.
5. It’ll teach you how to respect your art. (I believe that every single person has their own “art” form.) When you come up with ideas in this realm and know that you have an obligation to speak for them, things kind of change– because it’s not just about you anymore. It’s about these things that you’ve come up with that you need to keep alive.
6. It’ll teach you how to respect yourself, and build confidence. No matter what anyone says, your ideas are a small (or big) piece of you. And neglecting this wouldn’t be conducive to taking care of your best interests. I guess it might sound kind of hokey, but I really do believe that we need to respect the abilities we were fortunate enough to have.
Speaking on #6, truth be told, I got sick of my creativity at times. It is said that “creative minds are rarely tidy,” and I agree. Artists usually seem to be conflicted, messy, sometimes unstable people. Some are greatly talented– pair this with being painfully humble and possibly being a perfectionist and you have yourself a beautiful disaster, that is someone who produces great things but is somehow not aware of their brilliance and won’t ever admit to it. Examples that I can name off the top of my head are Amy Winehouse and Marilyn Monroe.
In conclusion to all of this, here’s what I can say:
Yeah, okay you’re an artist. So what? No one is going to know about how much of a clever cookie you are until you speak up. Don’t be ashamed of being bold– it’s what you need to do to breathe a little life into your ideas. Being creative is a beautiful thing, but it is also a job. You owe your ability and you owe yourself to be the best and brightest light bulb you can be.
Jen Esguerra (@jenmartine_)