KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

Why Make Pictures?

KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

Dear friend,

I’m pretty convinced– the secret to happiness in life is making picture — or making art.

1. Almost everything can be a ‘picture’

KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

You can make pictures in many different ways.

You can make a picture by drawing on a piece of printer paper. You can make a picture by cutting out colored construction paper, and gluing it (kind of like what Matisse) did.

Any types of pictures you made as a kid– do more of that.

2. Make pictures like a child!

KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

Picasso once said something like, ‘It took me a few years to draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to draw like a child.’


The more I study the masters of painting, photography, and art in general– in the advanced years, they all went back to basics.

KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

The masters (when they were old) were more child-like.

KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai
KUROSAWA x ERIC KIM / Seven Samurai

For example, Matisse did construction paper cut-out images.

Kurosawa Seven samurai

Picasso painted like a kid — all one-dimensional images, on a flat image. Apparently this is how children draw before they learn about ‘perspective’ and try to draw things ‘realistically.’

3. Beginner’s mind

In photography, I’ve been shooting like a beginner again, and having so much fun.

I’m shooting JPEG on the Ricoh GR II — a point and shoot camera, just like how I started in photography (I shot JPEG on a Canon Powershot SD 600 at age 18).

Why do I like shooting with a simple, point and shoot, compact camera? Simple — it is simple. I like to frame with the LCD screen, and ‘see’ the world from the perspective of a camera. When I see the world through an LCD screen — I see the world differently.

For example, on the Ricoh GR II I’m shooting the ‘positive film’ JPEG preset. It adds crazy color, contrast, and saturation to my images. And I love it– it makes reality look more interesting– the purpose of all art.

Therefore, I am like running around on the kids like a kid. I have been shooting A LOT — and the benefit of using JPEG — they import quicker into Lightroom, and my laptop loads the images faster. I can quickly go through my images, and flag the few ones I like. And the JPEG colors look better than anything I can squeeze out of shooting RAW.

4. You can make pictures anytime, anywhere!

I think a lot of us get depressed as photographers during winter months. Why? Because we spend less time outdoors, and therefore we are less likely to make images. The fewer photos we shoot, the more depressed we are. Why? Because true happiness is when we are making art– making pictures, or any other artistic outlet.

But the exciting thing I learned– no matter how shitty the weather outside, no matter how boring your house, no matter how boring your city, country, etc– YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE INTERESTING PICTURES! How?

You can make pictures by DRAWING, sketching, sculpting, with play-dough, with photography. You can do it digitally or analogue. You can make digital paintings and drawings with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, any free phone or iPad app.

Picasso x KIM

I have been making a lot of paintings/drawings/sketches/ traces with the iPad and the ProCreate App. And it is an old iPad Air — we have no excuse, you can buy an iPad for $330 — we can make art anywhere, of anything, whenever.

Picasso x Kim

5. Why make pictures?

For me, I like to make pictures because it gives me some sort of control over reality. When I make pictures I am playing ‘God’ — I shape reality to my own liking.


For example, I hate clutter. I create my own beautiful reality, by cutting away the superfluous from my pictures. I like to simplify my surroundings, and simplify my images. This is why I am so drawn to Kyoto, and Zen aesthetics– less is more. And like Dieter Rams said,

Less but better.

So when I’m making pictures, I am having fun. I am excited. I am encouraged. I am motivated.

6. The opposite of inspiration


To me, when you are uninspired, unmotivated– it is like a feeling of ‘nihilism’ — there is no purpose to living or life.

Picasso x Kim

That is quite possibly the shittiest feeling you can feel as a human being.

Why? You lose all zest for life. For living.

7. Never stop growing (a lesson from trees)

To be human, is to always grow. We’re not that different from trees, except trees live longer than us.

For example, a redwood tree will take thousands of years to reach great heights. She puts her roots deep into the earth, always looking for more nutrition. Even as a tiny sapling, she fights off predators, insects, and competes against other saplings — to get more sun, resources, light, water, and resources.

If you take a look at a plant, forcefully breaking through concrete — that is the will for life, or the will for power.

8. Don’t be humble

Stylish woman outside of department store. Kyoto, 2017.
Stylish woman outside of department store. Kyoto, 2017. RICOH GR II with P mode and flash.

I’ve been studying a lot of Nietzsche, and what I learned is this:

This quest for us to become more and more humble, and more and more ‘nice’ — makes us more timid, more weak, and less excited and empowered in life.

Nietzsche says it comes from Christian morality — which praises weakness. I don’t know if I quite agree with him on the point (I am a Catholic Christian) — but the truth is that modern society discourages originality, modern society discourages radicals, modern society hates uniqueness, modern society hates the new, modern society wants you to be generic.

Red texture. Kyoto, 2017.
Red texture. Kyoto, 2017.

Modern society wants to cut off your genitals, and wants to make you into one of the ‘sheeple’ (sheep people). Or for us all to become obedient cows (and we all know what happens to cows… in America at least).

Cindy exiting our Airbnb. Kyoto, 2017.
Cindy exiting our Airbnb. Kyoto, 2017.

9. Passive entertainment is the enemy

Black headless man with beer. Kyoto, 2017
Black headless man with beer. Kyoto, 2017

To me, society, government, politics isn’t the enemy.

The enemy: passive entertainment, social media, and most of the internet.

Consider, you cannot really be ‘bored’ anymore. There is a plethora of free apps, free games, you can watch a gazillion hours of YouTube, you can stream all the episodes of Game of Thrones, or play any video game for free or a nominal cost.

Anyways, consider– every minute you are consuming passive entertainment — you are being ROBBED of your opportunity to MAKE ART and to CREATE!

10. Who is happier?

Woman with self-portrait of herself. Downtown LA, 2011.
Woman with self-portrait of herself. Downtown LA, 2011.

Let’s consider two individuals– who do you think is happier, or will be more successful?

  1. Person A: Everyday after work, dedicates themselves to their art for 3 hours, whether it be writing, reading, painting, drawing, photographing, or producing something artistic.
  2. Person b: Everyday after work, spends a few hours on internet websites and blogs, streams some shows, smokes a joint, and goes to sleep.
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Person A will have a lot more opportunities to be ‘successful’ — of course luck is still necessary. But I would reckon Person A (active producer) has 10,000x more chance to become ‘successful’ than person B (who is a passive consumer).

Not only that, but I reckon Person A is a lot happier. Why? We are happiest when are making, producing, or in the zone. Or as psychologist Mihaly C calls it, to be in a state of ‘flow’ — where all time fades to the background, hours seem to pass in minutes, and we lose our self-consciousness, and we feel in control, a calm elated sense of joy, and a sense that we will never die.

11. Why be in a state of ‘flow’?

For myself, I am happiest when I am in this state of ‘flow’ — I get this state of flow when I am writing, when I am reading, when I am engaging in deep conversation with Cindy, friends, or family, when I am analyzing pictures and film, when I am drawing, when I am writing poetry, when I am doing ‘freestyle’ rap/poems, when I am walking, or doing anything ENGAGED and ACTIVE.

CINDY X HENRI WRIST STRAP by Eric Kim. Kyoto 2017

Some ‘flow hacks’ to get me in the zone include:

  1. Not eating before dinner: Not eating breakfast or lunch — only eating dinner, and 6-8 ‘egg snacks’ in the evening to fill my stomach. When I ‘fast’ during the day — I feel more concentrated, hungry, and like a wild animal or beast. I feel like I dig into a deeper form of consciousness.
  2. Working out: Doing chin-ups, deadlifts, squats, push-ups, yoga, or any other form of physical exercise or stress to my muscles. Whenever I put stress and fight the power of gravity, I feel my body getting stronger.
  3. Caffeine: During the day, I drink black coffee (no cream/sugar), and green tea. Green tea helps me relax. Coffee gives me an adrenaline response (after all, caffeine is a poison). I drink a lot of water, and sometimes will drink 100% cocoa to fight off any hunger pangs until evening.
  4. I also feel more excited, motivated, and inspired when I publish. The more I publish, the more confident I feel.
  5. Publish more: I think it is better to PUBLISH MORE, instead of publishing less. I know I know, the world is over-saturated with pictures and art. Whatever. Just make shit, because you have fun with it. Be an artist going 500 miles per hour, no brakes on your creative Lamborghini.
  6. Empowering music: I listen to empowering music (JAY Z, KANYE, KENDRICK LAMAR) to get me into the zone. Whatever music empowers you — jam to it, and make art. I know I always get in a good flow to write when I am listening to music.

12. Conclusion: Ignore everyone else; and make art for yourself!

Eric Kim Cindy Red Kyoto Curtain
Cindy and red curtain. Kyoto, 2017

All right, I’m sorry for being so all over the place (as always). I’m just really drunk off this caffeine, and I feel damn good– and wanna share this feeling with you.

Ultimately know that as a photographer, YOU ARE AN ARTIST. Don’t let no motherfucking snobby-ass art critic, art school kid, or hipster tell you otherwise.

Make art that makes you happy. Make pictures in any way, shape or form.

Also realize, there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art. It is all subjective. And the ‘art world’ is all socially constructed. What makes a Basquiat painting worth $100,000,000? Art critics say so.

Also, fuck fame. A kid doesn’t make art to become ‘famous’. No, a child makes art FOR FUN.

Be like a kid again. The older you get, AGE IN REVERSE (Benjamin Button style).

Trace of a painting at Uji Ryokan Lobby.
Trace of a painting at Uji Ryokan Lobby.

My dream: when I die at age 120, to be mentally age 0.

Rotary Mazda Engine
Rotary Mazda Engine

Even now, as I write these lines at age 29, I feel creatively like I’m 9 years old again.

So friend, conquer all your fears, inner-doubts, and kill your self-critic. You got this shit. Make art, have fun, and SHARE IT! Publish your art on social media, share it with friends and family. And if you have nowhere to share it, post it on ERIC KIM FORUM.




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