This is just a small post, and it hasn't really got much to do with anything. But I want to put more stuff on here, so you have more of an idea of what's going on in my head when you aren't being told to buy t-shirts.
There are so many times I've wanted to stop doing this. There isn't much that can punch you in the gut more than pouring your heart out into something, and then putting it out there to find out no-one cares because, well, its shit. For me, the worst time was when I spent months on a complete rebranding, with a new website and lots of new pieces ... and got a grand total of zero sales. In fact, I got minus two sales, because I got two samples in to take photos with.
The reason I'm saying this is the other day something in my notes reminded me of something that made me feel a bit better about it all. People who know me will *sigh* when they hear me say that I'm a unhealthily devout fan of Radiohead and everything they do. But I read an interview of an artist (successful artist, might I add) that makes all of their album covers, Stanley Donwood. I really like his stuff, it's very atmospheric and he likes to use more obscure media to make it. But the way he talks about his experiences with the last two albums really resonated with me:
"...so what I did to start with was I bought loads of oil paints (at considerable expense), bought loads of canvases, and got myself all set up. Then I got the band to sit down, got Colin (Greenwood—Radiohead bass player), who’s a very good photographer, to take photographs of all the band, and then I got the photographs printed out, took them into the studio, and then realised that I did not know how to use oil paints, or paint portraits, and that I was shit at everything. It was awful. I mean some of them started off ok, and I’d go in the next day and think, ah, and then I’d do something and the whole thing goes “pffft”.
Oil paint is another thing that I can’t do. So what happened was I spiralled into the usual month of depression and self-hatred, “It’s all downhill from here,” “I’ll never have any ideas again,” “I need to get a job in Tesco’s stacking shelves because I don’t have any skills.” It actually might have been even worse than the Moon Shaped Pool depression which we’ll get to later, because in the Moon Shaped Pool one I thought, “Well they’ve known me a little bit longer, they’re not going to sack me just like that. They’ll give me some sort of a warning or something.”
But back then in 2011, I really thought I’d fucked it because all I had was oil paint and these brown canvases. They looked like dirty protests or something. It was so bad, and the music was going… I mean normally it’s a bit better because they’re having a bad time with the music, I’m having a bad time with the artwork, so we’ve got something to talk about when we’re eating. 'Ooh fucking terrible isn’t it, shall we give up? Oh go on then.'..."
"The King of the Limbs album cover"
And for the latest album, “A Moon Shaped Pool”:
"...I bought all of this really nice American sign writing enamel and I bought a massive pond-liner and loads and loads of canvases. They all went in the back of a lorry and down to the south of France where I built this square pond. Right from the beginning it didn’t work, because of the wind down there. There’s a trade wind, the Mistral, that blows down from the mountains. It’s quite a warm wind, but it’s the wind that’s supposed to drive men mad. So the wind is blowing all the time, and if you try to do something on the water, it’s fucked, it’s gone.
Then I thought, “Ok, I’ve got the studio, what can I do with a brush?” And I spent hours, days actually—two weeks solid painting this stuff, and it was not very good. At least I didn’t think so, and if I don’t think it’s very good then no one else is going to think that it’s very good. So I was really miserable, I thought I’d fucked it; “What have I done, I’ve had my last idea obviously some time ago; my moment came and went without me being able to have a party or anything. I am now shit, I’ve done everything that I could ever do and it’s all downhill from here.” So I was really quite downcast by this, and angry, and maybe a bit depressed..."
"A Moon Shaped Pool album cover"
You can read the interview here for yourself, but he puts in a nutshell what everyone must think at some point when working on a project: everything's fucked, I've already peaked, downhill from here. What this made me realise is that, yes, EVERYONE thinks it. Even someone who has made a living from art for 20 years and has the backing of one of the biggest and highly regarded rock bands for all that time. But what matters is that you're still there, still trying, and still alive and fucking kicking. And you’re NOT actually shit. Yet.