My philosophical idea：avoid anything that makes you unproductive in your art.
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1. You are a visual artist and photographer
First of all, yes, you are already an artist. As a photographer, you are a visual artist. You like to make images and pictures.
To me, true joy is artistic flourishing. You flourish as an artist when you are in the process of making or creating. Therefore, anything that makes you more productive as a creator or an artist is good. Anything that makes you un-productive as a photographer or artist is bad.
For example, I’m unproductive when I’m distracted. I don’t mean to say “productive” as in “efficiency” like answering all my emails, and planning shit. Rather, I mean “productivity” as PRODUCING A LOT OF ART, PRODUCING A LOT OF IMAGES, or making a lot of pictures. The best and happiest artists from the past were the most productive (Picasso made on average 1-2 art pieces A DAY until he died).
Therefore in my personal life, I avoid anything that distracts me. For me, that means no email. No scheduling. No checking my bank account balances. It means not checking up what other photographers or artists are up to. It means for me to be focused on my photographic and artistic zen zone. It means, I’m essentially a technological zen monk, with a Dionysian addiction to creation.
2. Where I find inspiration
For blog posts and writing, I find my nourishment and ideas from my personal life experiences, and also from master philosophers from the past. Philosophers who have inspired me include Jesus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Epicurus, Diogenes, Heraclitus, Nassim Taleb, Socrates, Musonius Rufus, Nietzsche, Goethe, and other philosopher-poets like Homer, Horace, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell.
3. I want to empower others with my art
I’m not that romantic about art. I don’t believe in “art for arts sake”. Rather, I still see art as having some sort of functional, societal purpose.
For example, I make art to inspire others to take control of their lives, to feel empowered, less fearful, and more skeptical. I encourage people to become the best version of themselves, and to avoid the sirens of the haters — and the many-eyed Medusa and Cyclops in the real world.
4. How to be a more productive photographer
As photographers, we are visual artists that love to make pictures.
What makes you productive as a photographer? For me,
- Small, light, simple camera in Program or simple settings：The less complicated my camera and settings, the MORE pictures I shoot. The heavier, and bulkier my camera… the fewer pictures I make.
- The more I consume, the less I produce. Of course, I need to consume the work of other artists to find inspiration and guidance in my work. However, you must put a limit to how much artwork you consume. Don’t treat social media and art like an all-you-can eat buffet. Know how much your stomach and body needs for nourishment, and then focus on your own production.
- I don’t eat breakfast or lunch, because eating breakfast or lunch makes me sleepy, and less productive. I lose inspiration and motivation to go out on the streets, walk, and “hunt” for images to make. I also drink a lot of black coffee to keep me wired and artistically productive throughout the day. Like a lion capturing a prized gazelle at the end of the day, I always reward myself with a MASSIVE and delicious dinner.
- To the best of my ability, I avoid camera, gadget, and gear blogs and websites. The more I read camera reviews, the less encouraged I feel to use the camera I already own to make pictures. The more I look at camera and equipment tumor sites, the more dissatisfied I am with my gear. I’ve found the more satisfaction I have with my gear, the more MOTIVATED I am to make pictures. And the less I look at gear websites, the more SATISFIED I am with my gear. Therefore, look at fewer gear websites to be more productive as a visual artist and photographer.
What holds you back from being a productive artist? Ruthlessly prune it from your life. Cut out the weeds, exterminate the parasites with poison and fire, in order for your tender shoots to grow.
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