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we scream because we know why the caged bird sings

Inspiration, Work and Art

Roxy (she/her) — Art, Rant — 18/06/22 21:57 p.m

I’ve been thinking about my work for a while. What I do and why I do it. Recently I’ve been working on a webcomic, and it’s fun to make. I’m still trying to make it out alive out of that period of time where I’m so excited I overwork myself to release updates as fast as possible. It’s hard to not overwork myself.

One of the things about thinking is what do I do, exactly? I know I like making things, and the thigns I enjoy generally involve that action. Even just writing this post is, to some degree, making. I call what I make just art, because it’s pretty hard to group all of it into one category, but not all I make is art in some traditional sense, sometimes I also make programs (like the software I’m using to generate this blog, and this entire website, plus the Stranger Eons webcomic), which aren’t traditionally considered a form of art, but I feel like it’s the same “category” of action as when I make a drawing, or that one time I made a brush out of my hair and really bad pigment out of coal.

I usually make two kinds of software: games and tools. Games are most widely recognized as a form of art, and hopefully are beyond the scope of this part of this rant. Tools, however, are different. Is a hammer art? Surely, there must be someone who can see hammers as such, or perhaps there exist hammers that are more easy to consider art, perhaps ones that are crafted with more care, better materials, or something. Perhaps there exist hammer enthusiasts who could ramble on for hours about what constitutes a good hammer out there.

I consider art to be anything that people see deeper meaning in. Since meaning is a choice (as its presence and the lack thereof are both invented by chemicals in our brain), it is possible to see meaningfulness in anything, and therfore anything can be art. I, personally, see deeper meaning in the tools I make. Making them is an experience that goes beyond flow, it’s deep and almost spiritual. I tried to represent this feeling in my (as of now undocumented) Chattering Arts conworld, where craftspeople work by helping their materials and ideas realize themselves into who they want to be in this world, and the ideas and materials try to do the same. In this world, someone who can make art out of anything is in tune with everything in existence, as there is nothing in existence that they can’t grow from (or, grow with).

So I guess my software is in some way art.

Another thing I enjoy to do in the same manner in which I do art, is customizing software. I need the software I use to have extensive customability (even if it’s so extensive I’ll never really use all of it) to feel like I’m thriving in it. In some weird way. It’s why I like Vim so much (that and the complete lack of need for mouse inputs. I have terrible mouse aim). It’s also why I like Qutebrowser. I guess this can also be seen as that, I’m making my tools expressive, and in some way, more artistic.

So that’s the what. It’s a pretty inconclusive what, but it’s the what.

So why? Why do I feel so compelled to spend hours stressing myself over things I make? What do I find rewarding about it?

One thing is probably having impact in my surroundings. Oftentimes I find myself daydreaming about being a lone, immortal human in the world, with access to all sorts of resources to make everything. So it’s definitely the fact that my efforts can have an impact in the world, but it’s also the effort. I don’t want to be a god making everything I want by merely thinking about it, if I were to be a god, I’d want godhood to take work and effort.

It’s also how it lets me express myself. My strange desires of having six fingers on each hand, or the anger that I feel about the fact that existence is so unfair, and how we all decided to accept it. It lets me find others who feel the same way, and who wish for something to be done about this. It also lets me express feelings more unique to my experiences, like my trauma and how I feel about it now.

And there’s definitely some part of me that enjoys the fact that others like it, seeing them try to decypher intentionally obfuscated meanings is always fun, especially because of how close they can sometimes get, but also because it lets me see how my work functions in someone else’s mind, the parts about it that are relevant, and lets me learn about how I can make different parts relevant if I ever want to use my art to communicate something specific.

But somehow, all of these come together in a strange feeling of self-realization whenever I make something new. The day I made a brush with my hair is definitely one of the highlights of this year, I feel like I’m reaching into some deeper part of myself, and letting it out. It’s like I’m reaching out to some higher power, and letting it give me some direction in life. It’s something I wish I was immortal for, and that I want to be remembered for when I die.

One of my worries is, then, accidentally tiring myself of this. I work a lot. Like, a lot a lot, and I’m, sadly, perfectly capable of choosing to not spend time with loved ones just to keep making stuff. This isn’t healthy, but sometimes it’s hard to find a middle ground, especially when I’m excited about what I’m doing. This is definitely something I have to be careful with, my pride for having made [S] RUN from Stranger Eons was nearly obfuscated by how much I frustrated myself making it. Now I wish I had taken longer to finish it. It’s just a lesson for the future, I suppose.

For now I’ll focus on working on my webcomic and trying to take breaks when necessary. I’m also trying to get it to be seen by more people, advertising it on places like Piperka and on other webcomics that serve ads from Comic Ad Network. Maybe putting it in some other places too. I don’t really expect it to blow up, but I’m trying to make its lore be something that is best analyzed collectively, which is hard to do without a collective to begin with. I’m very happy with how it’s going so far, and I’m excited to keep releasing more updates about it! I just need to learn to take better care of myself too.