I love stories.
If language is the “how” we communicate with each other, stories are the “why” we communicate with each other. I find my simplified idea of how humans cooperate to be extremely endearing and cute. The way I see it, we collectively explore the world and come up with stories about it. Then all the stories are shared with everyone in a sort of marketplace of ideas, so that we can choose which stories we want to accept as the best and incorporate those into our shared consensus on how things work. These special stories then become the building blocks for our shared reality! And then cute individual people, like you and I, spend their whole lives hearing new stories and deciding how much or how little they want to incorporate those into how we live our lives. This has been happening for many thousands of years! I am so very happy to be a part of this huge, cute and important project.
I can’t remember when I first understood that every part of my waking life was shaped by a story. What I do remember, is when I understood that there were feelings I had, that couldn’t be put into words. Since then, those have been my favorite stories - the ineffable ones. I really enjoy the word ineffable, it means - “incapable of being expressed in words”. What is art but attempts to express the ineffable?
As an artist, I like to think of myself as a storyteller of things that have a hard time being expressed. When I'm most stimulated in my work, it’s usually because I'm creating a piece that expresses something about an intersection of multiple ineffable stories, something extremely difficult to express. There is no greater feeling of satisfaction for me than looking at a piece I have created and knowing that it was the best I could do to express those ineffable feelings. A recent example is my Elio + Oliver piece -
Behind this piece are:
How the movie “Call Me By Your Name” made me feel.
How attending an artist residency in Cremona, Italy, made me feel.
How the Mediterranean Sea makes me feel.
How salt water on my skin makes me feel.
How the freshest fruit tastes at its perfect ripeness.
How the architecture of Venice makes me feel.
How an aperol spritz tastes at sunset.
How the sweetness of new friendships feel.
How the melancholy of saying goodbye feels.
What hope for the future feels like.
See? There’s a lot that went into the expression of this piece. Now imagine how many individual moments went into each of those ten bigger feelings.
The coolest part of this piece and every other piece I have ever made, or will make, is that while I'm the one telling the story, it’s not just my story. I’m just one person sharing in the collective experience of many billions of other humans over a very long time, and all of us have experienced moments like the ones I had to inspire this piece. There’s something about this shared storytelling that really moves me and makes me feel like I have the greatest job in the world.
Over the next year, I'm going to be telling you a different kind of story from what I normally produce. I’m going to be telling this story with words and pictures. Why? Because I think the journey I'm currently on is worth putting into words for myself and for others.
I think back to my fifteen year old self, my twenty two year old self, to even myself yesterday, and realize how nice it would be to be able to have at my disposal - a story of how things can happen in our world at the intersection of art, business, hope, and culture. I'm writing this story to document this exciting time in my life, but more importantly, to show others how and why certain things happen, how opportunities present themselves, and how when opportunities are seized, your life and perspective can radically change overnight.
Put plainly, in the last year I've grown my business as an artist, radically changed the vision I have for my work, met some of the finest people in the world, established a base of operation in Europe and am building an artist residency on a Greek island. A lot, I know.
This story has only just started, so I’m being a bit vulnerable in telling it before I know the ending, but I find it much more beautiful to share it this way. Just like how in my art I'm telling stories about our shared experiences, I invite you to share in this story with me as it unfolds.