I don’t often get to talk to Juan but when I do, I often find myself replaying the conversations around in my head for days after we have spoken. He’s a laid-back guy who’s passion for photography starts my brain to sizzle.
Part of what I enjoy, is being able to “ping” across a lot of different topics with him. It’s the fluency, the improvisation with someone else that shares that ability that is so fun. Juan is a photojournalist student who, this Fall, will continue his grad studies in Chicago. He is also the big brother to one of my students.
Juan and I talk art, politics, life, stuff. One of our recent conversations was about his new business cards. They are really cool. Each card is a beautifully composed photographic work of art. Each one a photo from his “photo a day” project.
Yep, that’s right. Everyday the challenge was to take a photograph and post it online. There are lots of similar programs around. There is a ” meme” project circulating about handcrafted pottery mugs. You live with them for a while, drink out of them, take a photo with the mug and post it, then pass it on. Others are drawing oriented like the popular Zentangle projects.
So Juan took his daily photos and had them made into his unique business cards. It’s a great way to showcase his commitment to daily art creating as well as showcase the diversity of his photographic skills. I like his shots of our deserted mall late at night as well as flowers, landscapes and animals and fireworks.
A bigger picture, is the determination of anyone to commit themselves to creating something everyday. Wether it’s a collage, photo, or drawing the intent is the same. To force discipline, just like with any diet or gym work out. It’s doing it even when you don’t feel like doing it. Now I admit to being a total failure with the first two but for whatever reasons, I find it easier to respond to the creating one. Maybe it’s because it’s fun. But it wasn’t always that way for me.
When I was a young studio apprentice, the most widely repeated piece of advice I received from different artists across the board was, ” Force yourself to go to the studio every day. Even if your studio is a kitchen table. Even if it meant only 20 minutes, make yourself go”. And it is the advice that has served me best in my 30 years.
Along with fitness trainers and dietitians, I’m often told by aspiring artists I meet, “I don’t have time to create”. And believe me, I do understand the time thing. But people, it’s never going to get easier or be a better time to create. Like all disciplines you have to commit and make it happen. And the truth is, life is short and a future is never guaranteed.
So maybe not every day, but for now, try committing to creating 30 minutes a day for 30 days. Get up 30 minutes earlier, do it on your lunch hour, do it instead of watching tv or looking at dopey emails,(yea, we all do it at times). Just commit to 30 days. And don’t set up unreasonable expectations for yourself that you’ll never be able to succeed at, so the whole exercise gets written off as yet another artistic failure.
Start simple. Draw a cup. Or an egg. Or a plant. Don’t judge your work AT ALL.
It’s not about whether it’s a great drawing or not, it is only about keeping the commitment to draw or create every day……for thirty days. Watch what happens. Take notice of what you discover. Write a paragraph about your experience, a non- judge mental paragraph. Then, take a break for a day or two.
Next, ask yourself, “what do I want to do next?” You can always do another 30 days. Maybe this time try collage or watercolor pencils. Over time you will become aware of your areas of weakness, (but few of us can acknowledge or strengths). So maybe you can work on your areas of weakness. For some it might mean difficulty in drawing people. So try drawing from magazine photos. If you can’t figure out your problem, its time to talk to a teacher. We can help if you let us.
The thing I know most, is that people often set unrealistic expectations for themselves, give up to easily, and only see their faults, never strengths. Committing to a creative challenge can be a great tool. Why not start today?
To see more of Juan Saliba’s work, go to http://www.blipfoto.com/entry/511927