I’ve been working on this website in bursts. And given that the entire site is about me, the question keeps coming up–how do I want to present myself? In principle, I want to present myself authentically. But, well, how do I do that? What does that mean? How am I supposed to capture every aspect of myself in two paragraphs on the homepage? Will people think I’m cool and punk enough? Will people think I’m dedicated and hardworking enough?
I know what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to list off my achievements. I don’t want to sell people something. I especially don’t want to sell myself. I don’t want to dismiss or downplay things that are important to me. I don’t want to worry about constantly pushing content. I don’t want to feel blocked. Why am I having such a hard time?
There’s a tweet I saw reposted on pretty much the only social media site that doesn’t make me go into an anticapitalist rage, and it’s been sticking in my head the last few days. This thing about professionalism on social media goes hand-in-hand with keeping your online self “marketable”, curating your creations towards making algorithm-acceptable “content” over free expression. This bothers me in principle. But more than that, it bothers me because I fall for it.
There are plenty of people out there, I’m sure, who have no problem sharing their art or their work or them Selves on social media without fear, without falling into the trap of worrying about what every one of their posts and how they post is Says About Them. Without worrying about how to share their work without making it seem like they’re advertising. Without worrying about to what extent they should sand down their rough, awkward, unprofessional edges. I’m not one of those people. I don’t want to want people to see me or my work or my art a certain way, but I do. (I guess it’s a Capricorn rising thing, for fellow astrology buffs).
I am such a fan of neocities, of tumblr, and of online spaces encouraging creativity and self-expression over professionalism or image! When I was a kid I made pages on Neopets and freewebs.com! I feel like I need an atmosphere like that to break through that Block of what my “image” will be. That’s part of why I’m building my own site. You’d think that by building my own site, I’m creating my own environment, right?
But somehow, even though the environment is basically a blank canvas, I’ve still got my Block coming up. It’s sort of like being trans out in the world–blank is not the same as inviting. It’s not like I think any place that doesn’t have a trans flag in the window is going to be unsafe, but if I see a trans flag in the window, you can bet I won’t think twice on correcting people on my pronouns in there! (They’re he/him, btw!)
So that’s what I need to do with this site. I need to hang my own trans flag. I need to decorate my room. I need to make it an inviting space for me to create in so I feel invited to create in it. And the natural way for me to start is with my Creative Manifesto.
I made this manifesto for myself a few months ago in an effort to break a creative block, express some frustration, and sort out what I wanted to do with my art. You can see my thought process on the whole thing on my Youtube channel (another social media site that I usually get along with). The point here is that despite having it taped on the wall in front of my desk, I succumbed to my old fears and habits when making this website. The ones this manifesto specifically tries to prevent. So I feel the need to post it here, as a reminder of my values, and hopefully as some encouragement to start decorating my room.
I hope it encourages you too!
ART IS FREE!
ART IS FOR HUMANS NOT ALGORITHMS!
The drive to SHARE is human. The drive to sell is CAPITALISM.
The desire to EXPRESS is human. The desire to hustle is CAPITALISM.
SHARING NOT SELLING!
Share whenever possible! Art can’t be felt through the kaleidoscopic veil of storefronts and advertising.
Trust that art will reach those who need it. Heart is creation, not distribution.
MAKE for the sake of your SELF. SHARE for the sake of ART and COMMUNITY.
You are granting others the privilege of witnessing you. Not for the TASTES of others, or the TASTES of their WALLETS!
ART IS MAGIC.
You cannot prove its power but you can see it. You cannot see its power but you can feel it.
ARTISTS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE IMMORTAL GODS. Not even the gods can create something that outlasts them.
ART IS EXPERIMENTAL.
I do not need a style people can LABEL and SELL. I transcend the limitations of my past creations!
Art needs to take up space. There is no such thing as too much art! Art needs FRIENDS!
ART IS LOVE NOT PROFIT.
ART IS CREATION NOT CONSUMPTION.
Artists deserve money because with it they are free to create, NOT because their work has monetary value. Monetary value is fake; Art’s value is real.
REMEMBER THE PARALYSIS of business-driven art well enough that you will never feel it again. Keep the separation between earning and creation sacred!
ART IS FREE!
Image from Agnes Giberne’s The Story of the Sun, Moon, and Stars (1898). https://archive.org/details/storyofsunmoonst00gibe