‘The Importance of Striving to Live a Life of Inspiration as Opposed to Experiencing it Second Hand’ by Kit Mizeres
I wanted to talk about some recent revelations I experienced over these past couple of months and have the chance to talk about how a particular trip has inspired who I am as an artist and how I want to live as one. I was very fortunate to have been invited to participate a few months back in a brand-new artist residency called Dripped on the Road.
Though it was my first artist residency, I could already tell that it is hands down one of the most unconventional artist residencies available today. Dripped on the Road is a traveling residency for mural artists where they travel by RV from city to city painting murals for an entire month. I was especially fortunate to have been invited because I have never painted a mural before, and through this residency I was able to learn how to paint large-scale paintings and even use spray paint for the first time.
Through this experience, I discovered that public art is one of the most rewarding artistic endeavors I have ever experienced. It was wonderful to experience the awe and gratitude of the surrounding community towards our work, and to witness first-hand how appreciative their reactions were to the art we created for their neighborhood. But, as wonderful and rewarding this process of learning a new artistic trade was to me, it wasn’t even the most memorable aspect of this residency that I took away from it all.
Not only did I discover on this trip how much I thoroughly enjoyed painting murals, but I also realized it was the lifestyle of this traveling residency that really touched me. As unconventional as it sounds, I felt that I really thrived as an artist when I was placed in this mobile and spontaneous environment. And as difficult and uncomfortable as it was to live with five other strangers in an RV for a month while working long hours to finish a single mural in just a few days at a time, the intensity and the chaos of that temporary lifestyle was incredibly inspiring. It made me think back to when I was in art school, and how I often struggled with having to come up with five different ideas at a time for all of my classes throughout the school year. Here I was, a stressed art student with low self-esteem forced to practically live in the studios (or often in my case, bedroom) day and night to meet all of these tight project deadlines. How on earth is an artist supposed to spew out new ideas and inspiration when the only time in between projects was to observe the same four walls that surrounded you day after day? Don’t get me wrong, it really helped me to build a strong back bone and raised my standards for the work ethic I now hold today, but I can’t say I ever made any remotely descent work in school due to time (but then again, who did?). As far as inspiration goes, we of course had the internet, the student library, and our peers to draw from, but when did we get to actually live and breathe these experiences that could truly move us as artists? And I really am blown away and heavily inspired by a lot of the work I come across in museums and galleries, but I can only be so inspired by another work of art to an extent.
I truly think a majority of one’s inspiration should come from our actual life experiences and how we perceive those experiences through our own reality, not someone else’s. It’s one thing to be inspired by another two-dimensional image, but to be inspired by an actual experience or story that comes with it brings an entirely new dimension to an artist’s body of work. During my trip with Dripped on the Road, I had never experienced so much ease with having to imagine an entirely new image I wanted to create just moments before I applied my brush to each wall. All throughout art school, I was forced to put days of work into concepting and re-designing every illustration I was assigned before actually making the image. Once more, I understood the intentions behind those processes, but it was so restricting on who I was as an artist and the time I had to actually create. But on my DOTR trip, here I was, free at last without restraints to paint whatever I wanted on this massive wall for the public to view, exhausted after an evening of traveling for hours in a stinky RV with a group of other wonderful artists to another new city, but oh so ready and inspired to create every time. Why was that?
I think that part of what made this traveling so inspiring is that the constant movement on the road keeps you alert on a consistent basis, and your mind is constantly stimulated with the ever-changing surroundings. It’s certainly exhausting, but not for the mind, which would have been the case if you were locked up in your studio all day. Your body also needs to be physically active to some extent every single day in order for your mind to function to the best of its ability, and my god, was the mural painting on this trip physical work. And consistent social interaction is essential to anyone, no matter how introverted. Most of my work, especially as of lately, has been inspired by the stories or even the little bits of conversation held with new strangers I have met along the way, and I’ve found that these random dialogues often place new bits of imagery into my mind which I often write down for later inspiration. This pursuit of frequent traveling brings about all of these various aspects, and the effect it has on one’s creativity is so wonderful.
My suggestion to any creative, especially to those who may be struggling with their perception of who they are as an artist or for those experiencing any sort of creative block is to physically experience more. To place yourself in more situations that push you out of your comfort zone. I think it’s easy and almost expected of us as of lately to rely on technology and to experience our world and social lives second-hand through our little LCD screens, but this vicarious way of life isn’t healthy to our minds and bodies on a regular basis, and especially to our creativity. If we continue this downward spiral of a pattern where we go about experiencing our lives second-hand, our own art will also become inauthentically secondhand as well. But hey, I along with almost every other artist out there, will always be primarily inspired by other works of art we have and will come across, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just wanted to bring about the message of how important I think it is to combine those direct artistic inspirations in with your own personal life experiences, and in that way, it really makes it all the more yours and not something that is second-hand.
Once again, I am so overwhelmed by how lucky I was to have had this opportunity to travel with a bunch of wonderful strangers in that stinking RV on our Dripped on the Road trip. I loved every moment of it, and wished it never ended. I was so moved by that trip that the moment I returned home to Ohio, I spent a week packing every belonging of mine into my car, saying goodbye to loved ones, and am now officially living on the road as I write this now. I am now in the process of creating a body of work inspired by my travels in the Southern states of the U.S. where I’d like to get myself a little more acquainted with. I will be naming this series “Holy Water,” a name inspired by these natural springs I came upon in South Carolina where the water is so pure and deemed to have medicinal and ‘holy’ qualities to it. I thought it to be an appropriate gateway series into my new pursuits as a traveling artist since I strongly believe that this kind of adventuring along with all the wonderfully sweet and accommodating people I’ve met along the way have been so healing and inspiring to me in their own unique way. It is in our nature to explore, discover, and interact with others, and I strongly urge all artists to occasionally step away from routine every now and then and to simply jump out of your comfort zone by experiencing something new.
Also, a big shout out to my DOTR group, thank you Ramiro, Denton, Jon, Lisa and Lauren for the wonderful trip and mentoring. Even though I was the baby on the team, you guys helped me to learn and grow so much as an artist. Love you guys!