Funnily enough, after the last two posts, one refuting them. Sort of.

It started back in my angsty early twenties with some drawings to show the “drudgery” of life, a slump backed figure trudging on a treadmill, or along a featureless maze of flat paths. Pointless. Repetitive. Like life was so hard as a twenty-something artist on the dole smoking weed.

It crystalised with some other ideas about the mainstream, into an image of leaving a massive, relentless highway going to an empty “normal,” to follow a meandering path to a distant mountain of obscure and difficult nirvana.

"untitled #38" 21/8/92

“untitled #38” 21/8/92

cutting off your nose…

I know there are plenty of gen x people who’ve gone on to great achievements, but there were more of us slackers. Lots of creative people on the dole, living in share houses, not many fulfilling jobs around. I’m super jealous of the boom time optimism and drive of gen y graduates – no design jobs, start your own agency! Being the masters of their own destiny instead of bemoaning the could’ve been scenarios.

In those low tech days, we also had a monolithic mainstream “youth” culture and the “independent” scene. The received wisdom was that it was more credible to be an obscure indie artist/band/musician that to be successful. The kiss of death would have been your music being in a movie, or horror of horrors, an ad! Success = sellout. More like a cop out justifying self indulgence. Or just not trying.

In my brief time at uni (back to that later,) I was just starting to find myself in that indie scene, long haired and ragged. Then grunge took off, jumped the shark to be popular. I could have stayed exactly as I was, been cool doing and wearing what I actually liked, but I changed and cut my hair, to not be “mainstream.”

That style guide was just for fun (mostly,) but the truth is that the opposite of a negative is still a negative. Having a set of things to avoid, is just as limiting as trying to be just like something.

I had an idea for a drawing a week or so back, of me at my desk drawing, with the grim reaper floating above holding his scythe under my chin, entitled “carpe diem.” Not quite as depressing as it sounds, but about the impossibility of sustaining that kind of “live every day to its fullest” drive that you get from a brush with terminal illness. I got a big burst of it when my mum had her first battle with cancer.

But in the end, it’s still a negative motivation, a whip with no carrot. You need a positive goal, a positive inspiration, a positive idea for a logo, to get anywhere.

. ..to spite your face

Starting to sound too whingey? To come back around to this idea, that I could have got, if not to my current destination, at least to my current direction, if I had pulled my head in and listened to some good advice. I can try to justify it that I was never given that good advice. Rather than being told after six months of visual arts that I had an attitude problem and a borderline assessment, I needed to be told to transfer to graphic design and focus on illustration.

But I was the one who proved them right by quitting! It only took me ten years to realise it… I don’t regret my journey (or all those illicit weekdays sitting in the sun, drinking coffee and reading a book while everyone else worked,) but I regret spending so much time reinventing the wheel. And damn sure I’d swap a few of those carefree days for some financial security for my two little girls.

skip to the punchline

No this still isn’t a semi-naked warrior woman! Just to reaffirm to myself the positive things I need to do now: draw stuff; show it to people; connect with my creative peers; and make something of my talents.

There endeth the sermon.

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