As I'm out and about I can't help but notice all the products, brands, companies who are trying to get my attention. It is visual clutter boring holes into my day. To me, when I'm outside of my house, I want to be open to inspiration and new ideas, new ways of seeing things. These ads, these commercials are like blockades at every turn. They not only stunt my creative energy, but they irritate me simply because there is so much of it.
I find myself distracted by these ads, not because I'm thinking, "I really need a blouse like that," or "I wish I could eat up all those calories and then feel bad about it later," but because I find myself thinking of better ways the ad could have been done. I'm sure there was a time when advertising, like book covers, was an art form. Now it's about how to be the loudest, most horrendous-looking strange thing while spending the least amount of money in its concept and creation, to say nothing of manipulation.
There are few safe places away from advertising these days. Even the library, which use to be The Holiest of Holies is slowly being sucked into this realm of visual shouting. But at least their advertising is often related to books and/or the library. And you can still find a quiet corner stuffed to the gills with musky books rather than commercials.
Even we have become our own advertising. Facebook is a great example of this, where we can show our good sides and promote what we like and do our own good bit of shouting. I am as guilty of this as much (if not more) than the rest. How often do I draw something and want to show it to you all and read your reactions and get feedback? Always. And how often do I scroll through my news feed looking for new things others have done, so that I might feel inspired (if not entirely depressed about how great other artists are and the long path I have ahead of me)? Daily.
So with all this shouting – and not the delightful Gene Wilder kind – how do we hear our own thoughts and feelings? How do you know that what you like is what you like? Not what Tommy McDooogal likes. How do you know what you need and not just what you want?
We are a collection of the things around us and I think we need to be a little more particular about what we're choosing to put in our baskets. I'm not saying like fewer things, I'm saying like more things genuinely, passionately. Collect things you believe in. Don't just have things, but have things with meaning. Buying things shouldn't be our therapy, but making things should. Shouting with others, not at them, should be the noise we are making.
It's a struggle for me not to resent the complex needs and desires of this world. I'm slightly old fashioned and I know that. But do think a little about what is being broadcast to you every minute on the bus, on the radio, on TV, on the internet, in the newspaper, on the cover of anything you've ever bought. Your attention is important. Don't spread it thin on unnecessary things.
"Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it." – Dee Hock