(this is probably the most personal thing I’ve written about trying to make art)
Before the election I had it all figured out. I had turned my artistic sights onto something I felt was truly important: science & space. My plan was to create art & stories that hopefully inspired people to get more interested in science. Art in the spirit of Carl Sagan & his poetic “pale blue dot”. There was a deeper goal underneath that first one… I wondered, once a person becomes emotionally invested in nature & science wouldn’t they want to preserve it? From my experience, unless you’re Miyazaki, environmental stories are the quickest way to make your audience glaze over. This was my answer to that. This circuitous route of space was about fun & engagement – reframing the narrative of conservation. The reframing was stories of nature’s magic & exceptionalism that generate within people a sense of protectionism. I felt like I finally found something that would fully engage me & create art that really spoke to my values.
After the election that started to seem frivolous. With the goals of this administration, I started to wonder are these objectives too esoteric? To rooted in privilege? How can i make adventure stories about science when people might soon be fighting for the most baseline of rights? Not that this is new – many people are fighting for those scraps of human rights now. It just seems to have the potential to be so much worse under Trump. It feels like a mandate on bigotry & greed.
My privilege felt screamingly clear – me musing on art goals while while black men die in the streets & immigrants pray not to separated from their families. That made me think, isn’t that all the more reason to use my privilege & skills for good? Isn’t this the perfect time to make art? But are stories about science really what the world needs right now? Are direct, intense messages of action & solidarity a better response to these times? Clear messages about justice, equality & compassion feel like the best response to Trump rather than sci fi comics with thinly veiled environmental aspirations.
Now I freeze. This is the point where so, so many times in my life paralysis takes over. Becoming so focused on impact that I DON’T act. Theorizing & brainstorming without creating because I never know what’s the “right” thing to do. I fallback back on “safe” artistic areas & then ultimately feel unfulfilled & empty. Full potential left unharnessed & values left lying on the floor. Indulging again in the same paralysis that has plagued me for so many years feels unbearable. I’m done doing less than what I’m capable of because it’s not impactful enough… or it won’t be popular… or that I’m not good enough… or that it won’t sell… or that it doesn’t fit into an artistic brand… or any of the other myriad of limiting ideas that hold me back. DOING seems like what’s important. I’ve made some bad decisions recently & I’m done with paralysis.
I’m motivated to do-the-fuck-outta some art.
So doing both types of art is on my schedule – make my adventure space comic & do poster style art that calls for action. Both executions are important to values I hold to my heart like some kind of glowing magical amulet. They look wildly different in execution & people will likely think they are from two different artists but I’m done confining or censuring myself. I’m just going to MAKE.
(speaking of here are some character sketches for the above mentioned science comic “Juno the Fearless Explorer”)