Monday, October 11, 2010

Gotta Do What You Love

Creepy? Disturbing? Monkey hopes so.

Monkey here:

After a long talk with Seal late Saturday night, I came to the realization about two things - I am extremely lucky to have a strong support system in place (ie Seal + friends), and that I've been unconsciously preventing myself from doing the type of art that I really want to do.

From an early age I've always been fascinated and enthralled by monsters. I had a huge book (similar to the size of my collegiate calculus textbook) about nearly every film monster that graced the screen until the mid-80's. I was reading Stephen King at 7, and the illustrations from the Scary Stories trilogy haunted my dreams.

Even to this day, great horror films are some of my favorite films ever. 28 Days Later and Let the Right One In are masterpieces. I also have a place in my heart for films like Aliens, Tremors, Predator, The Fly (1986 version), and tons of B-movie horror flicks. I do take offense to some of the more recent slasher/torture-porn films in the last decade, but for the most part, no matter how bad a horror movie is, if I have the time, I'll watch it.

However, when it comes to art, I've been struggling with the notion that I have to make art that really touches people on a deeper level. I felt like I needed to really say something; to inspire or empower. I wanted to make a difference in the world through art. And until recently, I thought that this was in stark contrast to the horrific material that I was really longing to create.

Eve helped me realize that I was creating the dreaded false dichotomy - I was making it an either-or situation when that really wasn't the case. I could paint monsters and demons and still say something meaningful, or still reach people at an emotional level. I thought I needed to be more clever or funny or wise than everyone else through my work, when really I just want to paint a bunch of scary monsters.

Whether or not the work I produce in the future has lots of symbolism, metaphors, and deep social commentary doesn't really matter. Eve pointed out that horror and tragedy are art forms that are centuries old - people still liked them for a reason. These pieces can act as a catharsis for the audience, allowing them to feel horror, fear, and sorrow without really having to go through the terrible acts that cause it. The viewers can feel relieved after the film is over, thinking "I'm glad that wasn't me," and can be thankful for what they do have.

Additionally, I've decided that changing the world through art doesn't necessarily mean inspiring the next generation of leaders through my artwork per se. I can sell t-shirts with my designs on them to raise money for charities. I can donate paintings to charities for auctions, and teach classes for underprivileged youth. There is lots and lots to be done, it's just a matter of finding my own way to do it.

I've realized that the hardest thing is releasing the rhino. It takes looking at it from a new perspective, and not getting boxed into the way that you think things have to be. I can just draw child-eating mothers and swamp beasts and demonic cults sacrificing towns and still be able to make a positive change on the world. I've found that your own mind tends to be your biggest prison, and it's all about figuring out what key fits to let yourself free.

I hope my story will help in some way..if anything, if you're dealing with your own personal cages and dichotomies and thoughts on what your art should be or what you think the world wants - you're not alone.

In the end, you have to create for yourself.

Thanks to Eve and everyone else who has been really supportive in my pursuit of art. I realize how lucky I am and I hope that everyone can find that support for your work. Keep on keeping on, and we can all change the world together.

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