January 13, 2015

Personal Space

By In Diary

It has been a little while since I created a new piece. Typically, I will go back to one of my characters that I have drawn now for the last 6 years, but lately it’s been more and more difficult to get excited about illustrating them. It’s not because I’ve fallen out of love with my characters, but my best work comes from sharing something personal from my own life through them. In doing that, I found much freedom to share and express who I am and what I was going through. I came into my own by pursuing my art.

The last 2 years have been different though. I’ve created a lot of art, but the mental rewards I used to receive became smaller and smaller, until there was none. I really didn’t know how to get back where I was. I wanted my art to do for me what it had done in the past. The problem however was that I had grown, but my art had not. While I recognized where my issues were coming from, you can’t force an evolution when it’s not the time. 2014 was the year that the evolution would take place, leading me to this very piece.

Last year, I wasn’t sure if my artistic pursuit was something I should be focusing on anymore. I was frustrated and uninspired. Sitting down to work on a new piece felt toilsome. I just wasn’t certain I was in love anymore. The year 2014 was the most challenging and trial filled time of my life, but on the same note, it is also the most treasured time (I talk about much of this on my new podcast [link here] if you would like to know more about last year). It was in this time that I shed away much of the garbage from my past and the old person I once was and became new again. I learned what I was truly capable of and felt more passionate than ever about creating my art and sharing my stories and experiences.

Fast forward to New Years 2015. I was talking with a person I adore most dearly in the world about somethings I had begun to realize and were bothering me. I was feeling controlled and manipulated. Not by anyone or thing in particular, but by something darker and hidden in the shadows…an ominous force, if you will. We had a long conversation and many things were shared. My thoughts became more focused after and I found myself feeling angry. I was angry that anything could make me feel this way. It was a violation, with no visible violator. What is this presence and where is it coming from, I asked myself.

It didn’t take me long to find an answer, though it was just one of those answers that felt a little overused – something you might hear an activist or an evangelist shout out. Basically, I thought the way I was feeling was coming from the media and our society. These ideas of perfection and what we should wear, even how we should think, kept circulating through my mind. It really is in everything we see and hear. If it’s not coming from a TV or the internet, you’ll often hear it regurgitated from someone else’s mouth around you. With all this flooding in, it can become difficult to separate your thoughts from these invasive ideas that keep finding every crack of your soul to seep into.

As I already mentioned, this sounds exactly like people who blame the media and society for the way things are. Admittedly, I’m angry that this is the way the world is too, but I want to make it clear right here, right now, that I’m not blaming anyone…anyone except myself. You see, the reason I’ve been upset over this lately has had to do with a change inside of myself. I stopped being so self-oriented and became involved with the peoples lives around me. I listened and helped people get through their challenges and this showed me how instrumental we are in each others lives, though many of us would like to think we are self-reliant. I learned about taking accountability and responsibility for things that may not even be my fault. It’s not about fault or blame though, it’s about getting something done and if you have the ability to do something, then act.

I still feel the presence I described above. That is what this piece is all about. I wanted to put a light on all of this and flesh out my feelings through my artistic expression. Using one of my characters didn’t seem right either, so I decided to use someone else…myself. All these years, I stayed away from illustrating myself and using my creations as surrogates to tell the story I wanted to tell. It’s been a long time coming though. It was important that for this piece, this was about me. I needed to put a real face to a real problem.

So this piece isn’t just about conveying the evil of the media or societal standards. It’s more about what we allow, or more appropriately, what we ignore. The hands and tentacles grapple and control. They invade our personal space and enslave us. Our only response to this degradation is to pretend it’s not there or fool ourselves to think we are not easily manipulated to buy into what’s being pushed in our face. If we really followed the strings in our minds back to the source, that’s were we would find how much of what we think and how we represent ourselves really comes from.

The only way to change these things is we first must change ourselves. If we push through the interference and we strive to be better, then we will be. First though, we have to open our eyes and acknowledge that the problem exists.

Escape The Ordinary,
Ele Nichols

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