Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fail, Fail, and Fail Again

The past four months have been kind of an awakening for me. I've spent much of my summer thinking about what it is that I want to do beginning this fall; I've been playing and experimenting within my studio, and writing a lot too. Most of my time in Costa Rica was spent writing and just observing my environment. I purposely chose not to draw during my trip there, but did bring some supplies in case I changed my mind. I'm not certain about my intentions for doing this -- not drawing, that is, except that maybe my interest in keeping such a sketchbook has begun to wan. Years ago, I found it strange when I met illustrators who did not keep sketchbooks at all. For years, I kept one with me always; filling my moments with the act of drawing. Nowadays, I no longer do this regularly. I still carry a notebook, however, it's become filled mostly with words, scribbles and scrawls, glued-in photo collages and bits of other things that I find interesting during my daily gadabout either in, or outside of my studio.

I'm currently working on a few self-initiated projects, ones which I hope will have life further down the road. These projects are written, and drawn, and sculpted. I'm also enrolled in two computing classes where I hope to learn how to create interfaces which are activated by not only touch, but via sound, and movement. Obviously my investigations blur the boundaries of the label of the discipline within which I currently operate, and have built my studio practice around, but I do it because it's kind of happening on its own.
And so I allow it
to happen.

I applied to graduate school for Fine Arts over 2 years ago, and did not get accepted; I was rejected by three, and then wait-listed by a fourth. Friends of mine said to me that I should've applied to around ten schools, but I didn't want to. Not only because it would be more expensive, in reference to the application fee, but also I couldn't think of any other schools that I would have wanted to attend other than those four to which I applied. Coming close to failure is something that I am very familiar with, as I'm sure many people are. And perusing the internet, reading and listening to artists and designers and actors and writers speak about their efforts moving through the industry trying to get recognized, or to sell an idea, I find one commonality amongst many of the individuals, which is that they have tried and failed.
But then have tried again.

To sit next to failure can be an important seat because it forces you to stare at that thing which you hope can be one day achievable. The idiom "hindsight is twenty twenty" is used for a variety of purposes to explain the importance of gaining distance from a particular experience in order to see it more clearly and honestly. I use this in illustration as well, not metaphorically, but in a literal means, by which I stand away from the image that I have drawn in order to evaluate the entire composition as a whole, and then determine whether or not my intentions have been visually met through the arrangement of the subject matter within my work. Standing too close to an image means that the entire image is blurred, and even if I choose to focus on one part, I still cannot see the rest of the image clearly. However, positioning myself this close to failure is about making those mistakes, those blemishes more obvious, not because I want to exaggerate the negative, but rather it helps me to inspire honesty about what I have created. I love the Sunday Times "Openers: Corner Office" in the Business Section because they feature the CEO of various companies who describe how and why their company is so successful; I take it as pieces of advice.
The kindness of strangers.

Dominic Orr, who is the CEO of Aruba Networks, a wireless network company, describes the importance of failing through a lesson he learned from his mentor, Wim Roelandts,

"[he...] would give you as much as you could handle until you started failing.
He would encourage you to not be afraid of failing - because when you start
failing, that's when you know where your limit is, and then you can improve
around that... once you figure out a way to overcome it... you don't feel that
inhibition." (1)

I have taken the first steps in submitting a book idea to my dream publisher. It was rejected at the rough stage recently, but it's given me more time to fully flesh out my vision. To not view this as failure would be denial on my part because it is just that; however, failure for me is not a singular term, rather it's binary. Like other terms and concepts it can be coupled with its opposite,


try again.

(1) Bryant, Adam. 2011. "Corner Office: Dominic Orr." The New York Times. May 8, 2011.


pete ryan said...

you have great insight!

Marcos Chin said...

hi pete, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment!