Sometimes I feel like I did everything in the wrong order.
Religious readers of this newsletter have a pretty nuanced understanding of my art school career by now. But for the very small minority of you who may have missed a blog or two, I’ll give a quick refresher.
When I started college, I had just read Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, and was absolutely enamored. (To be clear, I’m still enamored with it. But I’ve calmed down a bit). I loved Steve Jobs’ approach to simplicity and excellence, and I tried to emulate his minimalism in everything I did. There was only one problem: at that point, I had absolutely nothing to say. I had no voice in my own. And making simple things for the sake of simplicity doesn’t exactly end well. You end up, quite literally, with a whole bunch of nothing.
Around my junior year, I realized that I didn’t have a voice. And realized that I needed one. And then, as readers can conﬁrm, I was quite miserable for quite a while. My skills were progressing, but I had no idea who I was as an artist. It felt like I was running on a treadmill but never able to move forward.
One thing led to another, though, and my junior year ended up being wonderful. I ﬁnally wrote some good scripts, and I was able to ﬁgure out what I do well. More importantly, though, I discovered some musicians and ﬁlmmakers that completely changed how I view the world. I started to combine my interests and skillsets into an aesthetic that was uniquely mine. Suddenly, I had a voice.
But in the process, I lost my commitment to simplicity. I was overwriting everything, and while my work was unique, it lacked the technical quality for which I was once striving. Lately, one of my favorite professors has been talking to me about elegance. Speciﬁcally, elegance as it pertains to writing. He encouraged me to write everything in a way that feels has timeless as a navy suit or a long black dress. Aesthetically pleasing, sure, but in a way that will look just as good on a page in 50 years as it does now.
Which brings me back to Steve Jobs. Now that I’ve found my voice, I’m trying to express it in a simple way. I’m going for elegance. The subject matter is all mine, but the way it’s presented should have an understated richness that never goes out of style.
Turns out I was right three years ago. I just had the parts in the wrong order.