The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Being Who We Are

November 5th, 2009

The Three Jewels

I had a conversation with a friend today about separating business from, well, business. She was working on redesigning her design portfolio (as a designer, for websites or otherwise, one is often considering and reconsidering the design of one’s own website). Be that as it may, her website was in need of a facelift and she was doing a fine job at it. She sent me a link to her new design site however and it was vastly different than her art site (she’s a painter as well). It didn’t add up for me and I mentioned that I liked the art site much more – it had such a nicer feel to it. And the design site, well, felt like it was a different person all together. Really, it felt forced.

She said she was felt that maybe the art site was too “psychedelic” for her general design clientele.

But that’s why people go to you, I said, because you’re an artist with a good eye. As long as your site has a clean, well-organized presentation, who cares what your life is like? I mean you’re an artist! A person may be looking for a graphic designer or a website designer and come upon your site and realize that your art is great and want a piece of that on their project. Not your art maybe, but your touch, your vision.

Well, I said that in so many words, anyhow.

The point is though: there is a voice in our heads that holds us back from fully stepping into who we ARE, from allowing us to OWN it. Instead, it compartmentalizes identities and then hides those identities from each other, lest they be like Voltron and unite to be this all powerful being. There is the business face. Maybe there’s the artist face. The mother face. The father face. The buddy-at-the-bar face. It’s tough, it seems, to just embrace all of these different aspects as one whole person and go out into the world like that. This is who I AM.

When I was 21 or so, I’d painted The Three Jewels and it was hanging in a cafe. I thought to myself: Oh, God, now everyone is going to know everything about me. After all, onto that canvas, I’d poured out all my insides in so much fractalized layered madness and exuberance. It was, admittedly, a pretty psychedelic painting. I figured that now everyone was going to know that I’d taken some psychedelics at some point in my life. Including my parents. Including the government. Including, well, everyone. Whoever “everyone” is.

Well, it turn out that my parents were content to turn a blind eye and, when it finally came up at some point or another, I didn’t care so much what they thought. As for the government, well, they could give a shit. As for everyone else: well, the people who think that’s a bad thing aren’t going to get it anyhow and both the people who think it’s a good thing and the people who don’t care – it’s obvious from the get go.

So life went on. I learned to own that piece of me. In doing so, I was able to hold my head a bit higher, walk a bit taller, straighter and not be afraid of standing out when I might stand out.

Later, I started to work with clients. I had clients. This was a new thing at one time. For the self-taught, self-educated computer geek it was pretty novel.

Anyhow, as time went by and I started to work on lots of different projects – websites, flyers, logos, commissioned art – I realized that I should show this stuff somewhere as a portfolio. So I created a website for it, separate from TenThousandVisions.com, my painting website. It was a nice website but nowhere near as nice as my personal site. I realized that I felt fractured like that. There was this one person over here who was busy being a “graphic designer” and this other person over there being a “painter”. And yet, both had a similar task before them: presenting information in an aesthetically pleasing and intuitive manner. Ultimately, the “resumé” of my paintings was, I felt, stronger than anything else I might show. The other stuff is there because I can. The paintings are there because I want to. In my humble opinion, hiring a graphic designer who has an endless creative urge to just create is going to bode better for your project than hiring someone who just creates because they get paid to do so. My two cents, anyhow.

I did realize however that sending my site to someone I’ve never met might throw them off. They might be like – whoa, look at this guys art… and then they might make a judgement. And decide they weren’t interested in hiring me.

And I realized that the person who makes that judgement isn’t someone I’m likely to want to work with. The person who says: this is cool, I want a touch of that on my project – that’s the person I want to work with. We already get each other from the beginning.

Mind you, I have all sorts of clients. Some are very professional to the point of being pretty straight. Others are, well, puppeteers or channelers or what have you. All of them end up feeling the same way: one person who is being who they are in life who is working with another person who is being who they are in life.

So it’s a leap of faith: stepping into who you are because it suits you best. And yet, it’s a leap that you know – if you don’t take it you might as well step aside. I don’t want to present a “business face” only to make a buck. I might as well put on a button up shirt and go sit in a cubicle somewhere if that’s the case. At that point, I’d just be fooling myself.

Listen, it’s best for everyone if you just step into that person who you want to be, who you are and own it. I mean really 100% fully and completely OWN it.

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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