I think I’ve always been a weird artistic weirdo. A WAW. When I was little I used to write my own plays and film them. Then I wanted to be an animator. I’ve always written but I took it more seriously four years ago when I started intensely studying it. And I started identifying as a musician 10 years ago.
What drives you to create?
There’s a never-ending philosophical debate of what life is, what’s the meaning. I’m of the camp that we have to create our meaning. If the purpose of life is to create meaning, whether it’s familial, work-based, spiritual, communal-based, any form of connection, I think why not create any art form. Each art form is an expression or vibration of existence.
How do you know that you’re onto something meaningful?
Uh it’s probably that fuzzy flow state that everyone is talking about these days. When you’re not thinking and time seems to dissipate and everything feels natural and good. I feel like that’s the purpose of life, whether you’re an entrepreneur, an artist, a sculptor, when you’re working on that craft and get into flow state– that’s when you find your meaning.
I have this conflict with meaning between meditation and art, being drawn to both, and having my art often interrupt meditation.
I’m a big fan of conflicting realities. I love yoga and peace and meditation but endless forms of that would be boring. Art is usually crazy. You see sculptures of battles, famous fiction novels are dark, have twisted conflicts. Usually we like our dark, depressing intense songs. If it’s always fuzzy, nonattached, peaceful stuff that’d be really boring, I think you need both. You need to chill out from the chaos of life and also use that chaos to create.
It’s actually something I always question. As I continute to practice and go down this yoga path, I’m like ooh… am I going to get really boring this way? But I’m not. This is a whole other topic we don’t have to get into but the western worldview of yoga is very different from what traditional yoga is. The western world has taken a lot of the superficial peace, the fitness, and the yoga pants to the forefront rather than the concepts of more traditional yoga which is an exploration and practice of consciousness. The deeper you dive into that, the more intriguing it gets, it’s not one-dimensional.
I’m really interested in contradictions.
One of my favorite quotes is Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” I think it’s the best.
What do you like about that quote?
I think it’s so real – it’s what we just talked about with pursuing different paths. I think the most natural thing is the contradiction. People are like if you’re going down this yoga peaceful stuff you can’t write dark fiction. You totally can and you should because that completes the individual rather than trying to hide it. A lot of people try to only show positive emotions and they’re actually hiding turmoil inside. If you navigate those two, it makes life smoother.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I travel a lot and that’s a big inspiration. Experiencing other cultures, being shocked out of my comfort zone. I’m a big art museum nerd. And I’m really obsessed with sculptures. Everywhere I travel I make sure to go stare at sculptures. Someone last year was like why don’t you sculpt and I was like well I don’t do that. I should probably try. Get some putty. I started a new novel draft the other day and I was like duh why am I not writing a sculptor character. Now I’m working on a novel about a sculptor.
What do you do if you’re in a creative rut?
To be honest, I’m not sure I really experience creative ruts. A lot of people will tell you writers block doesn’t exist– you just have to try a different avenue, different prompts, or go do something else. I’m always trying to read new things, go see different things, keep my creative brain active. I’m actually debating taking an acting class next month. To a) dive deeper into character study and b) why not? And also the fact that when I first thought about it I was like maybe I shouldn’t– I’ll be scared, I’ve never acted before, but that only means I should do it more. Because the uncomfortable zone is what forces creativity.
How else do you get yourself into discomfort?
I’m basically a freelance-traveller-musician-writer. So I kind of live in instability. Which I’ve gotten very accustomed to over the years.
Does art feel like play to you?
I think I’d probably die if I didn’t do art. Which is pretty melodramatic. You can put that as a giant quote. But yeah I was thinking the other day if I got a normal bank job or something I’d probably die. Because I’m so used to constantly creating and putting stuff out there.
What’s the greatest thing art has ever done for you?
I think life is chaos. And art is the pause in the chaos. So when you read that great book, when you listen to that amazing song, when you’re looking at a sculpture, it makes you feel something very powerful in that step out of time. And then back to the chaos.
I link chaos and darkness, do you think about darkness?
Oh I love darkness. I’m a big yin and yang person. I think denying either of them only causes issues. I’m a fifty-fifty-er. Darkness would be like the Jungian shadow. Cycles: death, birth, day, night… you can’t have one without the other.
Are you irritated in yoga classes how often we talk about the light?
I’m learning yoga is such a complex and never ending pursuit. I’ve been practicing for 7 years, but I’ve been diving more into traditional yoga and it deals with a lot more expansive topics – the cessation of thought and the nature of consciousness. I’ve talked with a lot of yoga teachers about this problem in Western yoga which is that it’s always this chipper, positive, light talk. It’s often denying or not speaking of the other half of existence. A simple example– say you’re in a yoga pose and you’re holding it for 30 seconds, then a minute, and your teacher’s not moving then it’s two minutes, three minutes, etc. So even when people associate love and bliss with yoga, when you’re in an intense yoga pose and you’re going for three minutes and you’re like mother fucker I hate this, that’s when the chaos/darkness comes in. Then it’s how you respond to that. How can you detach your negative emotions to more smoothly move through it. It’s not forgetting about the chaos, thinking...“darkness doesn’t exist… it’s all love and light”. No, darkness is coming, but how are you responding to it?
Do you think artists are performing a service?
Yes I think artists are the most important people in humanity. We go to museums, we go visiting different places and the things we’re looking at is art. It’s an act of creation which we’re reflecting on. The opposite of an artist would be the super rich banker man. But the super rich banker man is also who finances the artist and likes to fill his place up with art so it’s this weird cyclical strange ecosystem of everyone being involved in art somehow. I think a lot of artists forget that, when they get really angsty against the system or business.
Do you think about your art forms as a type of relationship which you have to nurture?
I think you’re always in a wild relationship with your art, there are times you are passionately in love with it and the world dissolves around you, and there’s times when it’s not working and the communication is terrible. There’s times when you’re just chilling and watching netflix. The best art comes when you’re in love with that project.
Is there something that you hope to do in your art?
When you’re listening to your favorite song and you get that fuzzy connected feeling or you read your favorite book and it gets to that twist at the end and it blows your mind, that’s the goal, to create those experiences, those twists or those moments. I think that’s why we make art, that’s why we receive art, that’s why we read books and look at stuff is for that moment, that experience. Pursuing the never ending path of whatever art I’m trying to make that experience happen.
Along the lines of a never ending path, what does success mean?
I think success is an aspect of stability. The only thing that matters is pursuing your art as intensely as possible with the goal of learning more and creating more. Through that I hope I can create a stable career, not go insane, pay my bills and eat good food. If I can make enough money to feel comfortable, put out my art constantly and have a community of people receive it and respond to it then that’s success.
- Brett Randell