Thoughts on inspiration by Lina Katzmarcik, accompanied by photos she took of her sister, Luisa.
Inspiration is something many forget is something we must be concious of. Lina takes a look into the the process of connecting with the muse that is what inspires us. Having some element of control over our inspiration is a dream to many, but Lina shows us an avenue to the possibility.
Sometimes I wish inspiration was like the milkman, that it would turn up on my doorstep at six in the morning Monday to Friday.
Sadly, or perhaps luckily, this is not how it works at all. I often sit and obsess over a mood-board, make arrangements with a team of stylists, models and make-up artists. We book a location for an entire Saturday or Sunday to make sure we have enough time to get the best results out of a shoot. I have all these glorious visions of how the photos will look and then I find myself standing before this gorgeous model, in front of a beautiful backdrop and I feel nothing. My inspiration has deserted me. If on such an occasion my photos turn out okay-ish I’m lucky. Every time I feel like a failure, an imposter.
In recent years I’ve learned so much about being inspired, about living creatively and pursuing a career in the arts.
I’ve always been drawn to photography and writing alike, if I can combine the two - even better. I love the idea of capturing a story, a feeling, a moment between the lines or a secret in the shadows of a picture. The biggest question I’ve had to ask myself when I chose to embark on my journey of creative living was certainly this: Do I have the courage to be inspired? Creativity is not about time, or about money, it is about dedication and naked courage. It’s about a contract with inspiration. You give me an idea, I will make it real. Charles Bukowski wrote a brutally honest poem called “So You Want to be a Writer?” in which he shoots down all our favourite excuses: I don’t have time, I don’t have money, I’m not feeling it today, It’s not the right moment, I will do it when I’m more settled, older, wiser, less stressed, more free… He says,
"If you want it enough, no circumstance in the world will stand between you and your creative output."
Why? Because if it’s inside you and it wants out, then it will pour out of you and into this world. You just need to be brave. The most important lesson I learned when figuring out how to best live out my creativity then it’s this: Don’t quit your day job! (Yet!) Inspiration doesn’t wait patiently until you’re ready or until you have time. It strikes you, kisses you, greets you when it pleases, it knocks the air out of your lungs and makes your fingers tremble with the longing to create. And then? It’s up to you. Are you brave enough to hold its hand and walk down the path of creativity together?
Sure, Inspiration is a fickle thing but it does have a pattern.
I think one of the most important things for me was finding out what inspired me and mainly where inspired me. We’re all different, we perceive the world differently and we draw energy from different things. Some thrive on company, others on solitude, some love the noise and the bright lights and the thrilling energy of the big cities and others need the sound of rain, the rustle of leaves and the soothing serenity of the countryside. That’s me. It took me many years and being forced to live in the city for work to realize that I’m most inspired when I’m in nature. People make me claustrophobic, concrete buildings numb my inspiration. I need the croak of a frog, the iridescent glimpse of a dragonfly landing on a leaf. I need clean air and I need quiet.
What do you need? Do you know?
Find it and then, if you can, surround yourself with it, immerse yourself, close your eyes and let the feel of geographical inspiration prickle on your skin. Feel it. And then manifest it. I think inspiration is like a seed and it lies dormant within each of us until it falls on fertile ground and then the more you feed it, the more it grows. Every idea is a new blossom, another leaf and even when the seasons change, as long as you keep feeding it, your plant is evergreen. I also think it’s important to distinguish between being brave and being reckless. I always had this idea about my glamorous life as a photographer. I’d quit my teaching job, jet from Paris to Milan to New York and back and do cocaine and vodka shots in bathrooms with models and directors after quickly snapping some photos somewhere in between. I did quit my teaching job. I did start working as a photographer. With my bank account looking more barren each month I began living my “glamorous” life in downtown Barcelona. I bumbled from one location to the next on the metro, shared a seedy apartment with three guys and two families of cockroaches in the red light district and smoked weed in the tiny windowless bathroom. My parents never visited and neither did my inspiration. I worked freelance for a production company and my photos were between mediocre and fine. I just wasn’t feeling it. I jumped head first into a situation I couldn’t judge, no foresight and no pragmatic thinking. The bohemian idea of what it meant to be an artist, I think anyway, is more often than not just that - an idea. I’m not saying don’t dream, I’m not saying don’t work towards this ideal if it is what you long for.
My point is don’t be reckless, just be brave.
Embrace your fear, acknowledge it and make it your constant companion. Let it be the sulky teenager in your passenger seat, don’t take it too seriously but acknowledge that sometimes it isn’t wrong. Listen, but never ever let it drive. Inspiration sends ideas your way all the time but its up to you to grasp one, to make a fleeting thought in your head a reality, to manifest an idea in the real world. And trust your gut. Even so, we can talk about guts and bravery and talent all we want, about being in the right place at the right time and about mingling with the right people. But what creative living needs above all other things is this: unwavering discipline and hard, hard work. It still irks me that people seem to think that designers, photographers, filmmakers and writers live a life of leisure. Most of my friends who work in a creative field are also waiters, teachers, security guards or personal trainers. In our society its so easy to give up on living creatively and making beautiful things for others enjoyment because - for most of us- it isn’t the most lucrative business. Because today most things are done for money. We think that making money means being successful but that is never the whole truth. Keep your day job, I know you need to feed yourself and your family. But please, be brave, work hard, find your place, communicate with your inspiration, harvest ideas. Don’t do it for the money, do it because you want to, because you're bursting with it. To quote Bukowski, “if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.” Do it because it makes you happy. Do it because you can’t not do it.
Do it because art draws bridges between people, its where we bond and where change is born. Art moves the world forwards. It always has and always will. Listen to your muse when she visits you, be kind to her.
My sister is the most beautiful person I know, inside and out.
We were at home on Sunday and she was just sitting there eating a watermelon and I thought to myself that I wish I could show her how gorgeous she is. She struggles a lot, there are so many girls around her who have had boob jobs or lip fillers and I know they make her feel like maybe she needs those too. So I just photographed her walking around our garden, just hanging out and she looked so golden and so perfect, I love how the shadows painted her body and how relaxed she was. It wasn’t a photoshoot at all, it was me trying to capture her soul on a Sunday morning: all shadows and light and this golden energy that I always feel radiates off of her.
I think that’s what inspires me the most, this energy some people just seem to have and then sometimes I’m lucky enough to capture it.
Concrete Alchemists: Why We Should Think More Like Skateboarders
Before we share this essay, just wanted to give a shout out to Merideth at No-merit.com for publishing some inspiring writing. She handmakes patches and pouches and part of her profits go to paying the bonds of people accused of crimes in Cook County, Illinois. So not only by supporting No-Merit you would be helping people get out of jail and supporting an independent artist at the same time! Now here is an essay about a way to view the world, that will leave you thinkning differently after reading!
I used to live a few blocks from this spot in Los Angeles. At first glance it looks pretty forgettable. However, if you’re a skateboarder you might’ve called it church. I didn’t find out until later how well known it was even though I’d always see a gang of dudes skating there. It appears that in the past few years the owners have mostly put a stop to skating on the premises. In the RIP posts people called it “classic”, “legendary”, “infamous”.
This isn’t a skatepark. It was never designed for skaters nor intended to be skated.
As many of you know, I grew up skating. And it forever changed something about me. Like anything else, you first have to learn the fundamentals. You get a feel for the board - how to balance, what happens when you shift your weight. Then you learn how to stand on the board with one foot, the other on the ground pushing. Then there’s the ollie, the foundation of it all. An ollie gets you airborne. It allows you to jump on, off and over things.
When I say skateboarding changed me, I mean that it changed the way I view the world. After learning these fundamentals new possibilities opened up out of nowhere. I started to see skate spots everywhere.
The curb down the block became a skate spot. Stairs were no longer just stairs. Benches were still for sitting, but also for grinding. Even my mom’s coffee table had potential.
My parents just found an old home video of my best friend and I around 10 or 11 years old skating a neighbor’s driveway. This driveway is concrete. Right where it meets the garage, the ground is raised just a few inches past level. It is truly the smallest incline ever, but we’re using it just like you would a skate ramp, mimicking the same movements.
As skateboarders, every structure that you come into contact with becomes an opportunity. And one of the coolest things about skating is that everyone has their own bag of tricks, style and skill set. Everyone brings their own flair to a spot. Each skater is this alchemist with the ability to transform their surroundings.
So why should we think more like them?
I’m offering that it would benefit all of us to be open to opportunity in everything we did, especially and specifically in the activities and spaces we find most mundane. What if we walked into every experience giddy with the possibility of what could be instead of thinking what has been, what will be or what should be.
I say concrete alchemists because of this idea of skateboarders as alchemists, transforming concrete into acts never even imagined by the architect, using structures far beyond their conventional purpose.
However, I think this title can also be given to you. What if we allow ourselves space to imagine something else - to ask what if or why not, just a tiny tweak creating a pivot in thought.
What if we take these ideas and beliefs that feel so concrete in our minds and just poke tiny holes in them. That tiny hole which can allow for something else to shine through.
I think continually making space for that opening will eventually start to shift our internal paradigm and what we believe to be true. And maybe we'll start to see things we never before noticed.
I’d like to leave you with a quote by Franz Kafka,
“Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Check out Micheal Jr.'s take on how to make some chicken wings good enough to make you skateboard. If you've been looking for something new, follow him because his videos are all about about food, fitness and skating, good stuff.
As we approach the 11th anniversary of one of worst disasters ever to affect the United States, reflect on the impact that hurricane Katrina had on the lives millions as you watch this heartfelt live performance of Doctor Groove's Original poem, "Ode to Katrina".
"More Than A Bullet is a Chicago documentary that focuses on life in Chicago. It isn't based on the same things that are often shown in the news ,it shows a different perspective. It features SD, has brief appearances by King Louie and Young Chop."
This film is interesting because it points out that a lot of the youth who spend time on the street do so because there is nothing else for them to do.
They talk about not having anywhere to play basketball or football, a lack of extracurricular activities and how that actually creates an environment where violence, that Chicago has become so well known for, is all the more likely to happen.
Another interesting point made in this documentary is that many schools on the south side of Chicago no longer use conventional disciplinary education professionals, they now use Chicago Police and probation officers to enforce discipline at some of the schools. This could mean that many students form their opinions about the police within confines of school, and then they have to deal with them outside of school. If they do something bad in school the now run the risk of being labeled as a criminal early in life.
(Not to say that much progress has not been made) But... A very eye opening statistic shown is that segregation in Chicago has barely changed since the 1960's!
In the recent weeks the world turned it's eyes to Chicago when people spoke up about a Chicago Police Facility that they were allegedly tortured inside of. It is also rumored that the facility contains military grade equipment specified for police use. The police behavior that is observed by many Chicago residents as expressed in the film, is foretelling of a police state reality that only massive reform could reverse. Negative stereotypes about police are being affirmed because a bunch of people are being crammed into a space with nothing positive to do. The police see these youths as dangerous and find many ways to put them behind bars.
Overall, More than a Bullet is a very thought provoking documentary that provides a lot of depth to Chicago's current situation. Among many questions raised in this film I have some questions myself. How can we address these issue positively? How can we get more positive activities happening in these areas? Something positive enough to prevent people from joining gangs or committing acts of violence? Can an alternate form of peer mediation be massively taught? Give some feedback in the comments below!
I have been seeing a lot great shots from the homie Kris Elvira. His passion for photography shows in his work which ranges across many subject matters from cityscapes, to portraits, to skateboarding, his is truely a versitile photographer. He also shoots a lot of photos Uprise Skateshop. You can find many of his visuals via hashtags #goldenvisuals and #streetsofchrome follow him @celvira23
Edgar Corona: Bs lip
Chicago skyline at night
CTA long exposure
A stunning reflection shot
A reflection shot with a long exposure
Students from after school matters have also done paintings of Kris's photos.
Sometimes we have to take a step back from filming videos and all the hype and listen to some good old fashioned wise words. Here we have a quote about dealing with security guards/police/dickheads, from Nick Arima, a Chicago homie who skates for Get Real Clothing. This is funny and true wisdom at the same damn time! If you only skate at skateparks this wisdom does not apply to you.
"Imagine for a second that you are a skateboarder cruising around downtown with some homies (assuming that's not what you are doing). Let's say a cop approaches you and starts givin' you shit for skatin' downtown and he's bein' a real prick because he's already got preconceived notions of how "skater punks" are. He's probably already heard so much bullshit from other "skater punks" that he won't even give you the time of day to stand your ground or voice your opinion. You and your friends keep trying to argue with him, talkin' shit or whatever. All you are doing is perpetuating that hatred he has for "skater punks" by fighting him. He decides to arrest your insubordinate asses to "teach" you all a lesson. You have a sour look on your face the whole time, like someone shit their pants all the while you keep thinking to yourself 'fuck the police' along with your friends. This mentality continues on all through the night. He goes home to his family salty as hell and yells at his wife and kid for some petty shit 'cuz he's got a chip on his shoulder. now his family is affected by it. everyone goes to sleep salty as hell. You get out the next day ready to fuck some shit up More so than ever because that "pig" was an ace-hole and he wakes up ready to bust some more "skater punks". No one learns shit in this situation.
Now let's go back to the beginning and change it up just a bit. Instead of returning the cops anger and ignorance when he approaches you, you think to yourself 'shit maybe this dude is just Havin' a rough day and he has a reason to not like skaters because they are mostly a bunch of cop hatin' drunk/wise asses' so for every disrespectful or degrading remark he makes you simply treat him the way you wish he would treat you. With RESPECT. Not respect for his "authority" but for respect for the simple fact that he's another person on this planet who's trying to be happy just like yourself. He just doesn't know exactly how. Just like you. So he does what he believes to be right. Just like you. Your friends have a shitty attitude towards him though still. The cop likes you though so he lets you off and gives your friends tickets for bein' dumbasses. So you tell them they should chill. They get pissed at you as if you are siding with the cop. Like you are some kind of traitor and the fact that you have a separate opinion separates you from them, as if they all have the same mind.
Little do they know you saved their asses from gettin' arrested and that cop went home knowing that not all "skater punks" are "punks". the next time he encounters a group of them he might not be such a dick."
You get back what you put in, the bad vibes bring bad vibes and the good vibes bring good vibes. If we all, skateboarders, law enforcement individuals, security guards and pedestrians alike could take a step back to realize this simple fact at the moments we feel so pissed off at each other, perhaps we would get along without constantly fighting each other. Go skateboarding!