We believe that making mistakes is essential on the road to making great images: We aim to inspire here with beautiful images but we’re not afraid to share our struggles and missteps and the learnings that came from them.
Like Holly mentioned yesterday, beginnings can be fresh, crisp and clean, glistening with opportunity. And as much as a blank slate can be refreshing, sometimes beginnings can be difficult, too. That initial moment of stretching tight creative muscles feels overwhelming and I want to cozy back up into my blanket of familiarity. The blank canvas, the unopened roll of film, the empty memory card, the brand-spanking-new journal… all waiting to showcase my mistakes. I get nervous that I’m going to screw it up and I become handcuffed with indecision on where to begin. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this feeling when those negative voices take over. But the ideas? They are relentless. They flutter around banging into the side walls of my brain like butterflies caught in a jar. The noise of the ideas becomes so loud that it drowns out the voices and eventually I concede and take pen to paper or pick up my trusty camera. “More than in any other vocation, being an artist means always starting from nothing.” says Teresita Fernandez. She was giving a commencement speech to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts and someone happened to post it where I would find it. You should listen to it, too. It’s filled with wisdom and inspiration and savory food for thought.
When I look at a blank page or open a new roll of film, it’s daunting, but getting the idea out of my head -on paper or in the viewfinder- still feels like progress. In my classes I find myself telling my students all the time, “Just start. We’ll keep revising until we get it how you want it, but you have to start somewhere.” I need to keep reminding myself of this lesson, too.
Ms. Fernandez told a story in her speech that fits perfectly with our “Learn” manifesto. She says, “In Japan there is a kind of reverence for the art of mending. In the context of the tea ceremony there is no such thing as failure or success in the way we are accustomed to using those words. A broken bowl would be valued precisely because of the exquisite nature of how it was repaired, a distinctly Japanese tradition of kintsugi, meaning to “to patch with gold”. Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair and make it “good as new.” But the tea masters understood that by repairing the broken bowl with the distinct beauty of radiant gold, they could create an alternative to “good as new” and instead employ a “better than new” aesthetic. They understood that a conspicuous, artful repair actually adds value. Because after mending, the bowl’s unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that post repair were even more special because the bowl could then resemble nothing but itself. Here lies that radical physical transformation from useless to priceless, from failure to success. All of the fumbling and awkward moments you will go through, all of the failed attempts, all of the near misses, all of the spontaneous curiosity will eventually start to steer you in exactly the right direction.”
In other words, just begin and we’ll see where it goes.
Thanks for joining us as we start on this grand adventure together. Sharing in the struggle, Angie