Over the past months, I have been sending letters to various creative people asking them questions about some of the moral and practical struggles of being an artist especially when you are young. I never thought they’d take me seriously and that I’ll be receiving responses from most of the people I admire and look up to.
During my internship at Thousandfold, an active space for contemporary photography in Taguig, I read a book entitled “Letters to the Young Artist” by Peter Nesbett. It’s a pocket-sized book that contains two dozen of letters from established artists addressed to a “young artist,” a recent art school graduate from New York. The letters were really inspiring and I thought of creating a home version. (You can check out the book at Thousandfold. The link to their website is at the end of this post.)
So to my beloved generation, hold your ground. The struggle is real but I hope these letters will remind you of your worth, of your passion, of who you are and who you can become. May you find guidance and wisdom, just like I did.
Sorry if it took a while for me to give you a response. I’ve been receiving a lot of mails lately and didn’t had the time to check everything.
I can see that this really meant a lot to you and I can somehow see my early years from your message so I decided to take this very seriously so listen up.
First and foremost, I want to start this with a story.
When I was still very young, I was introduced to drawing by my mom. She would teach us math by drawing veggies and fruits and we would use them to add or subtract by drawing the answer. I loved drawing from the first time I ever tried it. I learned more advance drawing styles from my bigger bro. He would draw animes and cartoons based on texts (old playing cards) and I would try my best to do the same. I got kinda good from days and days of practicing and I enjoyed it so much that I started to lose my interest in anything else even playing with my childhood friends.
Fast forward to the part when my parents would scold me for drawing too much. I’ve been doing so much drawing almost all the time. I sometimes spend the whole day doing just that.
My parents started to hate it because that time, getting a course related to animation and design is almost an impossible dream. One is because there is no course related to animation during those early years, photoshop wasn’t taught as a basic need and second, getting a design course is very expensive. My options were to become an engineer or an architect and my dad said that would be impossible if I just focused on drawing. The only choice left for me was fine art which was looked down by many during those years.
At that point I was forced to make a realization about the reality of my future.
I always look back to those times when it was so hard for me to pursue what I wanted due to the realities presented in front of me. I imagined what could have been my future if I lost the will to follow my dreams and do what I wanted. If I grew up doing the things I didnt like but was successful, would I look back and feel regretful of the decisions I made? Is it enough that atleast I was successful?
Ask yourself this question, what if you decided to stop pursuing what you really wanted and start becoming what this “reality” is forcing you to become, then you failed?..
You might see me as this successful artist who had it easy but that’s not my case. I had several ups and downs during this career. Money was one of the main problems during the beginning and even every now and then. The most important thing is to be positive and to stay strong with your decisions even during the hardest of times. I would recommend listening to Ted Talks in youtube and watching “The Secret”. Very very helpful.
In my opinion, I would have done what I wanted and risked every option and later on tell myself atleast it is what I WANT. If I get successful or if I fail, in the end, I wouldn’t have regrets cause I enjoyed the journey. And that’s exactly how I’m doing things right now. :)
I hope this is helpful. I am thankful for your message and I really appreciate that you shared this personal problem. I’m challenging you to become a relevant figure in the art world and I would want to know how far you’ve come the next time we meet. Happy Holidays and see you around!
| Lei Melendres | December 13, 2015 | 6:44am