Thoughts on an End Game

the-end-game

Tonight I took a drive down memory collecting images for a friend to use for her own promotions. Looking through my photographs over the past few years, I’m pretty happy with the progress. Last year I did 25 model shoots, compared to the 13 in 2013. I even spent the last few years in Prince George struggling to find locals to shoot! Already, one month into 2015 and I’ve shot 3 people.

My push as of late however, has not been quantity but quality; to explore how I can paint with my lens. This means constant evolution.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” ~John Maeda

I remember when I was starting to get into photography, I felt like I was battling against a brick wall. I had no idea how to approach models, or even where to approach them. I learned anywhere I could, I emailed anybody that I admired to ask questions, I asked friends and girlfriends and old girlfriends and girlfriends of friends if they would model for me!

Fast forward to today and I feel like I’m learning something. My exposure is paying off, and I’m starting to get paid gigs. I’m by no means finished. Without my start though, I wouldn’t even be able to identify the obvious and know what is the meaningful.

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~Andy Rooney

So I keep climbing, and I enjoy myself.

I recently watched a video by Aaron Tsuru, Meghan Willis (Tsuru Bride), and Kate Sweeney – all of whom I’m a huge fan of – where they talked about the end game. You know, the place you want to be and how to get there. It was fascinating for me to hear them talking because as it turns out, they’re just as confused about what the fuck an end is as I am.

You see, the (somewhat self imposed or popular) artist conundrum is always black and white: to make art, or to sell out. To be quite honest, I don’t know how anybody can be either one or the other. I mean, one could be just an artist and worry about nothing else, but they’d have to hire themselves promoter. This is where the traditional artist/gallery comes in. However, for many people it’s not like this. It’s absolutely true that today’s artist must be the artist, the promoter, the gallery, the shipper, the worker. The independent. We have so many tools available to us that’s it’s easier than it’s ever been before for the artist to manage their own affairs, and as it turns out, we just want to eat and have a nice studio to work in and a roof over our heads (some nice gear, to pay models, buy supplies, journey the world – maybe I’m closer to defining my end game after all!) and what’s more is the entire time we’re struggling to go about this like a worker bee there’s all these buzz words going through our heads about selling out?!

What do I say to this? Fuck that. If somebody wants to pay me more money constantly to create them something, then I’m game. Call it what you want from behind your daddy’s weekly allowance and designer beenie. This is my hustle, and my end game.

So, in their video about the end game, Aaron, Meghan and Kate came to a conclusion that there are two ways to reach the end game:

  1. Just keep doing art for the love of art. If fame and success comes, win! but the end game is to make art.
  2. Set goals, get galleries, create an e-commerce store, push Facebook, write a blog, email email email go go go… oh, and make art sometimes.

Personally, I am a goal setter. I believe in goals, but I also believe in the dynamic nature of goals. It’s like setting my alarm clock: just because I woke up for it this morning, doesn’t mean that life is complete. No, I wake up tomorrow, just like I always have and always will and dig in for the long haul with a light heart.

For me, it’s an elegant balance between creation and awareness. There’s no black and white. The black bleeds into the white and the white into black. I think about the evolution as an artist. At the start, focus is on the art itself, for without a deep understanding and study of it, there can exist no exploration of it. But, becoming more aware of art itself there becomes a constant flux of creating, publicity, shows, and sales. My suspicion is that after this stage has bled for a while, there is a third state very similar to the first state where, if the artist is careful to plan, artistry can become a well oiled machine that just needs stoking.

Stoked with more carefully prepared, more precise, more meaningful pieces, rather than just a flurry to get things out and move onto the next thing. Trial and error, but more like trail and create super awesome stuff that people go wild over.

It is my firm belief that if an artist reaches the pinnacle of their success in this third state of a well oiled machine that they will go down in history as great artists. Does reaching the pinnacle of ones artistry in one of the first two states are just victims of the rat race.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” ~George Bernard Shaw

So where am I? I’m creating myself.

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