Stop Doing What Makes You Great

“We decided, that with this new album, we’re going to yell more, because we’re an alternative rock band, and that’s what we do, we yell!”

We hear it all the time, when an artist or band is out to make their second album, there are always those artists that want to focus on something that makes them great.  How about, “You know, this time around, I want to get back to the basics.  I want to get back to what made us different,” or “I want this album to feature a more darker atmosphere.” Artists always find themselves in a realm of exploring more or less with their art.  They end up lost in this new different world, questioning whether they should come back to the beginning; their basics.  However, when they do, those basics and that origin turns out to be smothered with the noise of their newly “fresh” ideas, making it impossible to turn into their earlier versions.  The legends become students of themselves, as they try to relearn who they are.

Damien Rice said something along the lines of, music is a lot like vomiting.  He was describing how music is like this down pour of raw emotion.  Serj Takian, the lead singer to System of a Down said, if you want to say something, say it.  You know who says, today we’re going to focus on something different.  People who are lost say, today we’re going to focus on something different. People who don’t know who they are.  People who just want to please other people.  Those people really have no idea what they’re doing.  They know it works because they’re filling up stadiums, but they don’t know why.

No one should tell someone what they should want to do with their art.

Picasso drew ugly things.  Ugly ugly things.  They don’t look like people!  They’re square faces with creepy eyes and unfortunately placed noses.  If someone gave me Picasso’s sketches or the sketches from any artist who worked on Pixar movies and asked me who draws better, “Gee, I don’t know, the rectangular shaped face or the futuristic robot.”  Yet, for some reason Picasso is one of the most historically acclaimed artists.  It’s probably because he never forgot his passion.  He didn’t draw to please the masses of people.  He painted the things he wanted to paint.  He painted the things he felt passionate about.  Most importantly, he painted the things he wanted to say.

People are selling out everywhere.

The art of the artist is falling apart everywhere because other people are telling them what to do.  Their work has become tainted by every single living person’s ideas; moving their passion in a certain direction to appease fans, agents, record labels.  Legendary artists dumbing their music down to reach more people, to fill more seats at stadiums, suppressing their message so people will like them.  Imagine if Picasso didn’t draw his unusual characters, what if he confined himself to only draw artwork influenced by religion and the church.  Where would Picasso’s message be if it were quieted?

All our peers are pulling us in every direction.

Most of the time, record labels who are paying musicians to make music can’t make music any better.  They especially can’t make that specific musician’s music better than they can, that’d be preposterous.  However, rich people have been telling artists to entertain them, and they do.  They do it all the time.  Ever since the time of kings and queens, and jesters.  Artists aren’t slaves to an audience. The audience chases the message of the artist.

Passion needs to roam freely.

In Embarcadero, a popular street in San Francisco, there are cartoonists, portrait drawers, and every artist with a different medium from charcoal to oil pastels.  You could find these people anywhere, sitting on city corners, sketching out strangers.  However, before they became everyone’s personal artist, there’s a good chance they’d rather be drawing other things, bigger things, certain people in their lives.  Unfortunately, they won’t be able to afford studios and large canvases, or building corners to draw eloquent murals.  We as an audience will never know their message.

Us, bloggers, we need to stay true to ourselves, to our art.  Before The Titan Project became a lifestyle design blog, it was a personal blog, then it evolved into a relationship blog.  I’d write long inspirational essays like The Girl All The Guys Want, and surreal moments describing how my girlfriend and I met.  I almost thought I would stay there.  People liked my work and were interested in more of what I had to say about the subject.  The day I wrote about toxic families, I was weary.  However, people still enjoyed it.  I’m sure it was because I felt like it needed to be said.  It’s probably because it was a genuine part of me I wanted share.

Your message will forever evolve, but never should it be restricted.


18 responses to “Stop Doing What Makes You Great

  1. love this post! totally correlates to how i feel about my blog, sometimes i feel like i try to force something that in turn strangles me… i end up saying “fuck it” and do my thing. Like like like

    • Well, I try not to wait for inspiration because if I did, I think I wouldn’t ever get anything done. What I try to do is look for inspiration everywhere, whether it be reading, clearing my head by taking a walk, or forcing myself to write poetry. Then I sit down and if nothing comes out, I force myself to walk through a page. I either end up with good writing or writing that I’m ashamed of.

      However, I end up with writing.

  2. this was excellent. thank you for the reminder to be true to ourselves.

  3. I Really agree. So many people are far too concerned with what others think that they forget themselves and their own ideas. True Sheepism.

  4. This screams “silence the critics.” I mean that in a good way. People are so fearful of rejection (myself included) that they stifle their own creativity.

  5. lifeexceptional

    Yeah definitely! Don’t be afraid to try new things, if you are then you are closing off so many growth opportunities.

  6. Staying true to yourself in the blogging world is something I am so passionate about because it seems to be overrun with people-pleasers and that just makes me mad! I love the analogy to the music world, it’s so true. One of my favourite bands in the ’90s was the Stereophonics, and their first two albums were brilliant, the second of which was actually even better than the first. Then they tried something different. Then something else that was different. And they got further and further away from everything I loved about them in the first place 😦

    Point very well made, my friend!

  7. I believe we’re especially prone for this kind of problem when we’re listening to our mind instead of our (divine) inspiration when we decide about what and how we want to create.
    Our minds believes some ideas are superior to others, some ideas are more important than others, some ideas are more intelligent than others… and in the end it’s never right. The ideas that are most important are the ones that we are most passionate about, those that inspire us and are a joy to create.

    • I chose sunglasses today.

      The first one I chose was the right shape, but I just really didn’t like the lens. I picked and chose for 20 minutes. Trying out different ones, tints, shapes, frames, and etc. I ended up having to choose between a purple lens and the first one. I noticed a girl passing by, pulled her into me, and asked her, “Which one looks better.” I showed her the purple ones, then the first one I picked up. “The first one” she said punctually.

      I realize sometimes, I just spend too much time second guessing myself. I use to guess people’s thoughts and certain characteristics, and no matter what my first impression, before I would logically cut something down, would be right. Second guessing ruins everything.

  8. Nice work, mate:-)

    There’s a white hot truth here, Jonathan. And it’s this:

    That we are the ultimate authority on what we need. That the people who know this, have authenticity and power.

    These are the people that lead the way and set the agenda for the rest of us.

    I love this – especially the quote at the beginning from the system of a down guy! Brilliant:-D

  9. I haven’t visited in a while, and almost want to smack myself for it, because this is one of the best posts I’ve read so far this year! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this message.

    This post hit home to me, not only as a designer, but also as someone who loves popular culture. Like a previous commenter, a lot of my favourite musical artists come from the 90’s, and while I love the fact that some of them have managed to stand the test of time, many of them have given way into appeasing listeners who do not fully appreciate what sealed their identity. When they do attempt to revert to their “roots”, so to speak, it’s not like the same, like you said.

    As a designer, I encounter many fellow designers who, instead of immersing themselves in the exploration of their own personal style, promote things for the simple reason that it’s “in”, or “trendy”, or what grabs the attention of the people around them. I can imagine that for those who are inclined, the attention is wonderful, but what happens when all of the noise fades away?

    I find you very brave for wanting to share a genuine part of yourself with the audience, and actively making the choice to stick with what you know and love. While my candour is not as strong as yours (seeing as I don’t write personal entries most of the time), I do write about things that I truly want to share with my readers. I would hate to promote something that I didn’t stumble upon on my own volition, and that’s why I don’t.

    I am excited to see the further development and cultivation of your website, now that you’ve made a very smart decision.


  10. This needed to be said. For that, I applaud you. The integrity and authenticity of the artist is paramount, and sacrificed too easily.

    But I also believe that there’s a terrifically sensitive intersection of your own love of the work, and what your audience can genuinely get out of it. I fear that sometimes we artists, in our vulnerability, demand a little too strongly that our work be taken for what it is, and forget that in the end we aren’t making art in a hidden room for no one to see. That in fact, the more devoted we are to our work, the more we need to deliberately invite the audience to witness it. In fact, I don’t like the word audience at all because I feel like it’s so passive, and I strongly believe in opening up the heart of your work…. *Once* it’s free and roaming, of course. And therein, I think, lies the distinction. I just felt that this additional perspective needed to be added 🙂

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