The Awakening

When New Years rolls around, everyone wants to accomplish goals and are inspired to change. A month later, lots of people are back to their regular self and the process repeats each year. I am a victim of that all the time. It is easy to want to change when there is a lot of hype but it is hard to sustain that change throughout the year and/or our life. That is why I have waited a whole month and few weeks before writing about my artistic awakening. I wanted to make sure it was not just a crazy 24 hours of my life that made me change how I look and do art. Since I believe I will continue this change and has now become a habit of mine, I want to share about, The Awakening. Don Don DOOOON!

About five weeks ago, while I was couch surfing, I was staying over a friends house in the UDistrict (where University of Washington is in Seattle). There is a famous burger place that has a few locations in Seattle. They sell cheap but great burgers, fries and shakes. It is very retro and hipster. The restaurant is called Dick's Drive-In. This place is open till 2 AM everyday. The restaurant is really entertaining to go to at night because there are a ton of people coming back from parties or the clubs. My friend and I decided to go out and get our usual order (Two Dick's Deluxe, one Fries, and a chocolate Milkshake) at around 12 AM. My friend was working through a lot about what he wants to do in life and I was/still am pretty much in his same position, except I am thinking about what I want to do after a career in ballet. A man stopped us and asked where the closest Jack in the Box was. First off, that is a terrible fast food choice. Instead of questioning it, we gave him the directions. 

Then this guy started talking about how the club he came from was whack. He began to tell his life story to us. He is from Norwich, NJ and he talked about working hard and staying focused. This guy is talking about all sorts of subjects like fashion and politics. It was crazy. He was talking about providing for his family and making money to support them. My friend was asking him questions. The conversation was actually inspiring. I was like man, I need to be more productive since I am not going to school. I need to work hard when I get back to ballet. My friend and I ended up talking to this guy for an HOUR AND HALF on the sidewalk. 

We walked away from that conversation with a stranger inspired. This was definitely not a usual Dick's run. Luckily, it was 1:30 AM and we had 30 minutes to get our order. We ate, went home, and slept. 

The next morning, I went and explored the UW campus since I had never been there before. After looking around and walking, I needed to go to the bathroom because of my late night Dick's run. Every building was closed except one, The Henry Art Gallery and Allen Center for The Visual Arts. So I go into this building and I use the bathroom because I needed to go badly. As I came out I just began to poke my head in some of the exhibits. That then turned into an hour and a half in this museum. I was mesmerized by everything around me. I began to take notes on the artists and what I saw. 

After dissecting the whole museum I was walking to the bus when I saw the University Book Store. I decided to poke my head in and see what books they had on art. A book called Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon caught my eye. I thought, "What the heck? Stealing is bad! What does this guy mean?" Well I what started out as looking at the first few pages turned into reading the whole book right there. The book was eye opening to me as an artist. What touched me the most was when Kleon talked about traveling.

At some point, when you can Steal do it, you have to leave home. You can always come back, but you have to leave at least once. Your brain gets to comfortable In your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.
— Page 94, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Here I am in Seattle and I am thousands of miles away from home. At this point in my life, I was lost and anxiously asking myself if moving out here was the right decision. After reading that passage I knew that what I am doing here in Seattle is perfect for me. What inspired me more was the fact that I am in a goldmine of place as an artist. I am surrounded by art and a city full of people, what more do I need? It is easy just to gloss over everyday things, but I just need to conscientiously utilize my surroundings to grow. 

I then decided to read Austin Kleon's other book, Show Your Work like an Artist. Kleon talked a lot about risk taking and discovery from mistakes. He talked about not being afraid to show your work. Kleon also wrote about just showing your work. He believes that everyone has a voice, but if you never use it, what is the point? 

‘Dumpster diving’ is one of the jobs of an artist-finding the treasure in other people’s trash, siding through the debris of our culture, paying attention to the stuff that everyone else is ignoring, and taking inspiration from the stuff that people have tossed aside for whatever reasons.
— Page 80-81, Show Your Art! by Austin Kleon

I decided to buy a notebook and every time something inspired me, I have an idea for choreography, or an idea for a piece of art, I would write it down. I would write comments on the notes and develop the ideas. The notebook is called The Treasure Box. I carry it with me pretty much everywhere I go. I scan the pages of my notebook to Evernote so I have it on every device. If I do not have the notebook on me, I will write the idea in my Evernote App so I have one central location for my ideas. 

My awakening was complete after two hours in the bookstore. A month later, I am still writing down ideas and I am always searching for more. I am being proactive to find inspiration as an artist. I created a Tumblr which is now on my website above, under The Treasure Box tab. This is to give you guys a glimpse of what inspires me on the internet. If I see something cool or read a good article, I will post it for you all to read or see. 

This all started because I went to Dick's. If I did not, I would not have had the conversation with the stranger and then I would not have needed to use the bathroom early in the morning. Two rules have been created in my awakening. Open your eyes or you may miss something (RULE 22). Most importantly, when in doubt, go to Dick's (RULE 25).