The more I try to understand the world of creativity, the world of art, the more I come to the conclusion that we are all in need of stories: stories to tell, stories to listen to. The fact is, our civilization was built on stories; what we now call the study of history, used to be – and still is in some cultures – the tales and fables that were passed on from generation to generation. Stories can be told in different ways: photos tell stories as well as paintings or sculptures. It is not only about words. All you have to decide is what kind of stories you want to hear or what kind of stories you want to tell. Well, I have a story for you.
During the summer of 2012, I felt like I just had to see the premiere of Master and Margarita, a novel by the Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov at the theater in Vienna. Most normal people go to theaters with someone else; because, quite honestly, the only people who are alone at theaters are over 60. That did not bother me for two reasons: first of all, the seats were almost sold-out, and so between going alone and not going at all, the choice was obvious. Second, finding a fellow university student who is up for going to the theater on a Sunday morning to see a Russian play happens to be a rarity.
So there I was, sitting in the front row of a little balcony in the wonderful Viennese “Burgtheater” and waiting for some kind, old lady to come and take her place next to me. Yet that is not what happened.
At this point in the story, I would like to tell you that I am the biggest fan of clichés. If you think imagining what your relationship and maybe even your kids could look like as soon as you meet a cute/ interesting person is freaky – trust me, I am worse. Maybe worse is the wrong word. I simply like stories, yes, some of them involve romantic encounters and others obsessive promiscuity. Those stories, as rare as they are, do happen. Some we usually exaggerate in our freaky little heads, but the fact is, they are real.
Just before the play began, a dark, curly haired woman sat down next to me. She had a gentile figure and the real signs of her age were only to be seen in the depth of the expression on her face. You know how you sometimes try to observe people without them noticing? Well this was one of those moments, except in a theater booth, it happens to be quite difficult. She definitely looked older than me, so I estimated between twenty-five and thirty years old. I wasn’t yet quite sure if I thought she was my type, but the different ways this would play out already started going through my head. Pretty quickly, I came to the conclusion that it would probably end the way it always does, with me playing with some stories in my head and eventually going home. So the play began.
For those of you who have read or seen Master and Margarita, you know it is an intense piece. Considering that it revolves around the bureaucracy, the hypocrisy and the human characteristics in the Soviet Union, it was not something easily digested. At the end of the first act came the first awkward silence. Boy, do I hate those. I couldn’t stand it for very long so I started a little chat with the woman next to me. I remember coming out of that theater feeling like a hero, simply because it happened to be one of those few moments where I actually made the effort to start a conversation. Sometimes you have to have faith that the person next to you might have something interesting to say.
A wonderful surprise followed: Roxanne turned out to be a 25-year-old PhD Geography student from Romania. She just recently came to Vienna and was very excited to have gotten a seat for this performance. We talked about the play, the morality, faith, god and human flaws. The more I listened, the more stories started to play out in the back of my mind. Could this be the moment that we all wait for? Well, as I sit here, writing this story, nothing much really happened but the event itself reminded me that we should be brave. We should be brave enough to follow the simple urges that tell us to find emotional or psychological closeness to other people.
After months of meeting girls who barely had an opinion on any genuinely interesting topic, I was in awe. The age was a big factor, but even at 25, it is hard to find a woman who will start talking to a stranger about where humanity has gone wrong and what we as humans should try to change. This went on during the whole break and for another 30 minutes after the play was finished and the room was empty. I was already trying to think of the best way to develop this theater visit into a coffee with my new acquaintance, but sadly it didn’t quite go that well. As we were saying our goodbyes in front of the theater I did the cockiest thing I could have possibly done. Instead of asking for her number or her email address, I gave her my silly little business card. I told her, if she ever felt like going for a drink, she could call me. Smart move, eh?
By now you are probably thinking, what a silly little child I am. You are probably right. However she did write to me, and even if due to the course of life and daily business, we have not met yet, I do believe that there are profound conversations that will follow. The point is, it is a story which I will remember for quite some time and maybe even conjure up another ending for it, the next time I tell it.
Just keep telling stories, it is worth living for.
I would like to thank my family, my publisher and all of my friends who believed in me. It was a great journey to get to where I am now but it feels good to be here.
Something along those lines would be the speech of the artist in me. If I would truly see myself as one. I would be celebrating the fact that one of my photos is going to be published in the ART TAKES TIMES SQUARE book. But that’s not exactly how things work. That’s just not how it feels.
The editor of this wonderful little magazine of ours asked me if I wanted to write an article about what it’s like pursuing an artistic hobby/career from my point of you. So here it is. I need to point out that at the moment I take photography as an intensive hobby and not as a career path. I have however been able to gather some experience in the last two years.
I often thought about the reason for people to pursue any kind of art. One of the emotional factors is simply the need to have something to do in your life. Not just anything but a beautiful something. Pursuing an art gives your life more meaning in a way, a direction, a way to spend time when you are on your own.
Recently I read about a scientific view of artists, or at least performers. It seems that creative people, especially the ones that need the spotlight, could lack happiness hormones. They have a stronger need for appreciation from others in order to feel happy and fulfilled. In search of this happiness, these people chose a profession where they can receive attention from others.
So what’s in it for me? I have this theory and it has to do with a girl. Like it always does. Around three years ago, she left me for a photographer. Maybe subconsciously I chose this in order to be better than him in what he does. It is just an idea but knowing my neurotic self, it could be true. I do hope there’s more.
I once read a description of my birth date. They said I have a passion for possession of everything that is beautiful around me. That feeling inside, the pride and warmth that you feel when you made something beautiful is worth the pain.
There’s always the good and the bad. I guess the hardest part in being a creative today is finding out how to get to a point where you are more than just a facebook/tumblr page out of millions. I have seen a few interesting photographers who made it by completing 365 projects and posting regularly on flickr. Nick Miller got the money to publish his book by promoting on tumblr and Silvia Pelissero got her fame on deviantart. There are many platforms out there and the key is consistency, that’s for sure. Creating original work is an obvious one but it is just as important to constantly show your work. Shoot, draw, write every day, and get it out to the people. Just be careful of getting lost in the promotion side. At some point you get lost in trying to push your name around the web, among the masses of art that is created today. If you created enough work to back your promotion up, it could be beneficial for you but you might just forget why you started in the first place.
I am not brave enough to choose photography or any other art as my main career choice. Maybe I am just not good enough and art is tough cookie for the competitive ones among us. That’s just one of my weaknesses, I need to stay on the safe side. That’s why I chose advertising for my career but that’s another story.
I felt lost for a while; I forgot why I put so much time and money into photography. Having stumbled upon a blog called “creative something”, I decided to write to the editor and ask for advice. Here is what he wrote;
Thanks for writing. For what it’s worth, your situation isn’t that rare. There are countless people doing work and pursuing passions in search of something more much as you are now.
The best thing anyone can tell you to do right now is to stick to what you enjoy, whether it’s photography or design or writing. Keep in mind that by having such a wide focus on creating you’re less likely to become known as an inspiration in any one of those areas. Instead your value will come much later, when you find an agency (or start your own) that needs someone who understands all of those different aspects.
It might not seem like it right now, but do things you love any chance you get. Create, create, create, and in due time you’ll either realize that you’re only seriously passionate about one specific area, or you’ll create something that catches the eye of an important so-and-so and find your way.
Good luck. I wish I could help more.
This answer did help my get my thoughts together. It is often said that real art is made for oneself but fact is in order to devote oneself to something, it needs pay the bills and let you support a family. Otherwise you leave the art as a hobby.
Anyhow, being an “artist” today is harder than ever and the competition is constantly growing. In the end you need to do what feels right. It might take a lifetime, it might take some years of serving tables, but that might be just fine for you. Go for it. Just be honest with yourself, be honest with your art.