The Artist Within

Leeches by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Leeches by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Since before the conception of my collection, I struggled with being labeled an “artist” and “designer,” not because I favored one over the other. I resonated with both but still felt like I was neglecting the artist side of me when I identified as a designer, and vice versa. 

I’ve been reading a lot on the differentiation of the two labels lately and the discourse is compelling. Some define both “artist” and “designer” as synonymous—a creator, so to speak, of something original. Some argue one implies being a visionary while the other implies a more robotic nature. Some say one creates while the other simple does. Some insist one breaks the exception while the other plays by the rules. The list goes on and on.

I remember using a David Hockney quote for a college essay once upon a time: “Art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.”

Hockney was a mysterious man. He saw the world through an unconventional lens, and while I had never heard of him prior to writing my paper, I found him odd yet intriguing, thinking, “Why would he change the perspective of a simple room?”

Large Interiors by David Hockney

Large Interiors by David Hockney

I realize now that it was one of my first aha moments. Hockney wasn’t telling others to inspire the world with tangible work. Rather, he was encouraging people to create aesthetic solutions—solutions that challenged the status quo.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is yet another artist that has helped shaped today’s world of design, let alone my own perspectives on design. He was so original, so candid and so primitive, and his work challenged many. One of my favorite quotes by him is “every line means something.” He had a purpose for every last detail. He had a reason for all of his work. He was powerful in nature, and his modus operandi is one I try to live every day.

Until recently, I never really gave myself the time to empower the artist within myself. I got lost in the industry of design, the robotic machine in me producing rule-playing work for decades. I often wish the raw, young, hopeful designer within me—the same designer that strived to be like Hockney and Basquiat—stayed alive through the years.

Interior With Lamp by David Hockney

Interior With Lamp by David Hockney

Still, I told myself that it is never too late. It wasn’t until I began conceptualizing the inspiration and purpose behind my collection nearly twenty years later that I reconnected with the same raw and wide-eyed artist that once embraced the world with a refreshing sense of vibrancy.  I was empowered and inspired by other designers, and it gave me the energy and courage to become vulnerable—to express my voice and vision. Every line, every detail and every detail began to mean something.

Every day I make the conscious decision to harbor the artist in me. It is so important to reconnect with original intention and purpose; it is crucial that we, as artists, never forget the foundations that kick started it all.

Remember to never lose sight of your true essence. What moves you? It is never too late to reengage and carve out of new path to become a better designer, a better artist and, ultimately, a better version of yourself