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2019-05-16 Thursday

Dropping Anchor

Mockup of possible space usage of a studio workspace in a Japanese-style apartment, based on a typical apartment floorplan found at a local real estate office in Saitama.

As I slowly continue to flesh out this new site, I’m thinking a lot about where I’m headed as a creative individual1I’ve never been comfortable referring to myself as an artist, even though I know that’s what I do, what work is most important to me to pursue, and how I want to pursue it. The answers to those questions are pretty readily forthcoming, but how to go about making those things come to fruition is not necessarily so apparent. Life is messy and complex. More complex than trying to form a square-hole life for one’s square-peg Self, it’s a matter of having to reckon with the practical limits of time, energy, and balancing creative life with one’s other life commitments.

In this post and on this site in general, I want to set a tone of honesty and create being transparent about many of the things that are so commonly obscured in how we present ourselves. To that end, it is perhaps with addressing a common assumption: I am not presently working much as a photographer. Note the key word working. I am an actively practicing photographer, making new images daily as I have been for twenty-three years, but right now it is not a significant source of income.

This is a product of multiple factors, including (in order of increasing importance) my status as an immigrant in Japan and related work restrictions, the way my work in the language industry currently dominates most of my available time, and the accumulated effect of many previous choices.

There will be no detailed list of specific past choices to scrutinize in this post, though I will sum them up as best I can in three points:

  • I decided that living abroad long-term was more important to me than establishing a career as a photographer in my home country.
  • For a decade or so, I let other people repeatedly derail me from what I knew at heart was most important to me.
  • I decided to go it alone and not ask for help when I knew I needed it, in just about every area of my life.

I do not regret my commitment to living abroad one bit. None. As in absolutely none at all, whatsoever. Strongly stated here because some people like to point out how much easier everything would have been had I just stayed home, as if I had let my curious nature lead me astray in a way that revealed my stupidity like a gravy stain that had been hidden by a fat necktie until an unfortunate gust of wind.

Regarding the other two points, do I regret those things? No. Regret does us no favors and sticks us with the check at the end of an expensive meal we didn’t really want in the first place. Avoiding them would have been more pleasant at the time, but sometimes it’s the shit end of the stick that pokes us in the necessary way for the lesson to stay put.

In any case, I’ve been more or less drifting from place to place for a long time. Ohio to Illinois to Missouri to Texas to Korea to Taiwan to Illinois to China and finally to Japan over the course of about fifteen years. Lots of great experiences along the way, lots of lessons learned, lots of whatever other redeeming details you care to identify, but all the while a conspicuous lack of a dedicated workspace.

That long drift is about to end. This summer, I will be establishing a studio workspace. I am finally dropping anchor.

At this news, a friend of mine reacted with something along the lines of, “well it’s about fucking time!” About fucking time, indeed.

I haven’t had consistent access to a studio space since 2003. I haven’t been set up to do my own printing since 2007. To say that I am beyond eager to get into my own dedicated workspace is an incredible understatement.

It will be a bit of a shoestring arrangement to begin with, but will build and build and build from there. I will be blogging about it here every step of the way, and everything will be posted in the studio category if you want to see all the posts together at once.

The facility will be for shooting still life and portrait work, video production for online courses and YouTube (initially mostly related to my English business, which is effectively funding this), doing my retouching, and printing my work. In time, it will also be a place for art reproduction work.

At least in its first version, the studio will be in a small apartment, because that’s what’s most accessible to me at the moment. Small apartments in older buildings can be rented at decent rates outside of central Tokyo, especially if they’re not conveniently located relative to a train station (and especially if the nearest station doesn’t provide direct access to central Tokyo).

More news to come soon, on this and other topics.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I’ve never been comfortable referring to myself as an artist, even though I know that’s what I do

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