James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

40: Strange Conversations

Hi there and happy September 15th! I hope you’ve been great. How are things? My absence last week was a result of a little thing called getting married. Now with a nice break and a fantastic mini-moon, I’ll be back to my regular writing schedule.

A few weeks ago we talked about the pressure that comes from maintaining the appearance of “always on” creation. I had some thoughtful responses from you about the subject and I’d love to share my favorites.

Jessica Jacobs talked about the thoughts that flows through her head during the silent periods.

“What frightens me about constantly sharing work and work in progress is silence. What if no one says anything? If that happens, I find myself speculating wildly about the worth or the work, and ten myself. I wish I could be stronger about that.”

”Regarding the silence, the anxiety is that no one will have anything to say about work that I am sharing, which of course can only mean that either they’re not paying attention or worse, they think the work sucks. Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that I suck. :) Ah, the life of the artist.”

Alice Berry suggested that the notion of process sharing was much different before the current state of social marketing.

”I have a strange relationship to this idea that “makers” must always be showing and promoting their work or themselves. I’ve been in the business of making clothes for over 30 years, and when I started, I would commonly meet people who didn’t even know anyone who made a product for a living, and running my own enterprise as a younger person was an unusual thing. Things were a lot slower, and expectations of one’s “fans” were much lower and experienced in person, or maybe by telephone or mail (!).  I had a regular seasonal schedule of making in the summer and late winter/early spring and then showing in fall and late spring. 

The changes in technology and social marketing have pretty much destroyed that traditional schedule, and as I’m gingerly re-entering the fashion business, I have to rethink all the aspects of my business and promotional model. Adding art and performance in the mix makes it seem that I will be pulled in a lot of different directions, and I’m in the process of figuring out how I will navigate the changes in how to get people to see and buy my work.”

During my mini-moon with C’ne, I found myself getting caught in a lot of those mind loops of constantly comparing myself to others. The pressure of being surrounded by talented makers with daily practices was enough to bring up my internal anxieties of my own practice. While I’ve been spending the last few months silently reading, writing, and making in secrecy, it’s hard for me to have confidence in my own practice, especially seeing the work of others out the corner of my eye. This weekend was supposed to be the one time where stress was non-existent and instead it crept into my mind while it was most vulnerable–an unscheduled weekend.

C’ne has a great track record of pointing out the obvious when I’m oblivious to it, and that day was no different.

“Everyone moves at their own pace, and that’s a great thing–you’re just oblivious to everyone else’s making process. Chances are, while you are comparing yourself to others and worries about your output, these people you compare yourself to are doing the same thing in the privacy of their minds.”

Needless to say after that, I had the most relaxing weekend of my life.

Have a great Monday and see you next week,

-James

What did I find interesting this week?

1) The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: A piece on the changing scope of entertainment and how patriarchal and “adulthood” viewpoints are changing towards our constantly shifting country.

2) If I were king for a day, I would ban open-plan offices: An op-ed piece about this writer’s hatred of open air offices–particularly interesting because many new businesses currently follow (or are adopting) this style of seating.

3) Single-Speeds Are Helping to Broaden the Appeal of Transportation Cycling: As a single speed bike rider for a year, I’m in love with it’s ease of maintenance and light-weight nature. This post discussed how single speed bikes are gaining popularity in not only transportation but also communities of color.

James T. Green