Scary! Dat’s what Art Do

Tell me about your consumering.  How is it going? Is your latest purchase delightful? Is a past one holding up swell? I am thinking about some future consumering and I am interested in talking about it now, so I can be more confident when the opportunity arises. Oh, you don’t have any recent purchasing to make small talk with? How sad. I am truly sorry. I hope your consumering returns to a frequent and active level soon, so we have things to discuss…

Hmmm… It may be just me, but I doubt it. Have you noticed how sometimes our conversations can be so centered around our purchasing life? Everyone would want to talk about their excitement over a new house or new car, sure. On a smaller level though, it seems that we’re always talking about where we chose to go buy dinner, or someplace we found for deals on tools, or gear or clothes.

There are very popular and prosperous folks on YouTube who make a living just talking about and ‘reviewing’ stuff they have bought. They show you the item, they tell you their opinions of it. They show you the product in action. I find myself watching these things, and I don’t even want the thing they are reviewing. I have no intention of buying a packable break-down survival bow, but I can tell you I have watched 2 videos on them in the last couple weeks… What!

Something is mesmerizing about purchasing. Like jumping from lilly pad to lilly pad, I spent my twenties making one fun purchase after another. I would look forward and say, yes! That next thing, is what I want to reach for on my next big purchase. I thought about it and yearned for it, over and over until I found myself hauling it home in the back of my truck. Or maybe it was signing the paperwork and driving the newer truck itself home.

This week I watched two documentaries on Netflix about artists. ‘Cutie and the Boxer’ shows struggling artists Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohar. They have devoted their life to art, for half a century. Ushio has made profound works with his boxing gloves and giant canvases. Noriko now is expressing her art in deeply emotional autobiographical and even graphic cartoons. They struggle to pay rent in the movie. They live simply in an old apartment in New York. Noriko, the wife, wants to not worry about money. Ushio, the husband, just wants to make art. Art in this sense has not equaled money.

The other documentary was ‘Design is One,’ about Massimo and Lella Vignelli. This Italian couple has also been at work in the art world for over half a century. They have made a monumental impact on the printed world we live in today. They have designed iconic projects. Almost singlehandedly they introduced the typeface Helvetica to America and liberally used it to great success. This couple cares about simple solid principles of design. Watching them, they care about ‘stuff,’ but through the eye of a true artist. They certainly seem to have turned their art, their gifts, into monetary success.

Sometimes in our everyday world, here in the Midwest, in a small town, I have to look deeper and to pay close attention to notice the Art in people. Everyone is an artist. I care about the artwork you make. I care about the expressions, the liveliness, the bounce and the color in the vivid moving painting that is You. This is probably why I love being with my little nephew boys so much. They are absolutely free artists. They are all expression, all the time. Rarely are they holding back, probably only when forced to, because they have expressed a little too much and just about broken something or themselves.

Our consumering can be confused with the expression of our art. It’s not. When we pick and choose from the bajillions of choices of products out there, and combine them in our own unique way, that shows our ‘personality’ we have still just bought stuff. I have a hard time separating my combinations of consumer products from something I have ‘created,’ but really I just collected. Someday when I am dead and gone, the pile of stuff that was ‘me’ will spread out, it will go to people, and the dump. I will cease to exist in any formal way apart from being a link to future generations through children.

I could spend a lot of my life trying to acquire and ‘get’ things so that I have them. The joke would be on me, I never really ‘get’ them at all. I can hold an image in my mind that all my things are mine, but they ain’t. A tornado or fire, could have them all in almost an instant. I couldn’t hold on to them through that. So they aren’t truly mine.

A creation vs. a consumption however is something different entirely. A creation, is something that didn’t exist in this exact way, before I spent my undivided energy to make it. A creation, like this blog, or like the t-shirt designs I make at work, are things that I have made, instead of bought. Good or bad, successful or not, these things are truly mine. I won’t take 100% credit, since I think God is working through me, through this mind, these hands and the digital machine, to make this story happen on screen. Still, this set of words has only ever happened through me, through my specific point of the vast consciousness, He created.

My artwork, is something to be shared. It is only for others, besides a mild therapeutic effect. This blog probably causes as much stress on me, as it is soothing. Creations, Expressions, and Making something in this place is important. You create art. Some of it is obvious and painterly. Most of it is just in the picture of your life you have chosen to sketch for all of us to see. You have done amazing works of creation. You’ve conquered, you’ve quested, you’ve danced and you’ve adventured all through life to this amazing exact point right, Now.

We all have led such interesting stories. We’ve all made fantastic artwork. We’ve all been fueled by an almighty Creator, who designed us in his image. I hope we don’t spend the short amount of time in this place, just being fantastic Consumers. Just buying stuff, again and again, it won’t be enough. We will always want more. Living well is no sin, but only living to get more stuff is one.

I think we want stuff, because of fear. We fear that we’ll have to go without. We don’t want that.

Art is the opposite of fear. Art lets loose. Yes, it is risk. True art is ourselves not caring about the world. Sometimes, the world responds and acknowledges with rewards. Sometimes it does not. Everytime the art was worth the effort. Everytime, the expression is the importance, not the reward.


Aaron Nichols

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *