Click Link Below For Unreleased, Translated Script:
Written and Directed By Doone Williams
Starring: Jess Cooke
Narration By Lauren Barnel
Filmed at the San Francisco Art Institute
Being creative can be a curse and a cure. I constantly hear, ‘Omg you’re so crafty’, ‘ya know I’m just not creative’ and my favorite, I wish I was creative!’.
Well, in all fairness, no I am not “crafty”, in fact that is one of my least favorite words of all time…. and probably any “focused” individuals’…
We as humans, are indeed creative. We have to make creative decisions every single day. From the clothes we put on our backs, to the blankets we throw on our bed, to the foods we eat, to the way we live each day; we create each day to live. In my honest opinion we are all artists. “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Clinton Pearce.
For myself, as a producer in multiple mediums, I must create. . . I crave to inspire. Am I always proud? Heck no.
Am I always confident?
I suppose it’s the same way for an athlete perform/reach a goal. For a chef to serve. For a pastor to preach. It’s all in the same — this urge to spread the conversation of creation.
As creatives, we need it to let our work breathe, to let our work live.
Part of helping our work live and breathe, is our environment. For as long as I can remember, I have had a very vivid imagination — an ability to transform my surroundings into a level of creative inspiration. Whether it’s been a small conformed space or an opportunity to buy a ticket and just leave.
Creating these opportunities for yourself are so crucial within your creative process.
When I was nineteen years old, I moved to Norway.
When I was twenty years old, I moved to San Francisco.
When I was twenty-two years old, I moved to Italy.
When I was twenty-three, I moved to Portland.
Since high school, I have learned the pros and cons of this pattern and parts of this pattern can be a curse and a cure.
Some call me a “free-spirit”. Some call me a “grasshopper”.
I need to be on the move. I need to be like a shark, “Constantly moving forward, or else it dies” – Woody Allen.
Yes, it drains my bank account and qualifies to a lot of starting over.
Yes, I have to say a lot of goodbyes and arrive to new cities knowing nobody. However, it comes with a lot of independence, courage and risk. I remember when I moved to Norway, surrounded by Scandinavians. In Scandinavia, it is uncommon to go to university after high school. This made me feel so much safer in choosing an alternative route after I left Oregon State (my first year out of high school/quite a social experiment). The world was my text book and all I wanted to do was travel, and quite honestly, be out of the States. With much support from my family and friends, I was able to do just that. I feel very lucky to have such supportive people around me.
As easy as it is to romanticize this “booking a ticket and just leaving” mentality, the truth is I was also running away. I didn’t want to face America’s norms. I also was pretty burnt out on everyone in my life.
Okay I’m going to throw a lot at you here, i’m crunching in about a year into one article. And with the pace my life moves at, one year (in my head) is like three novels and a Netlix series.
Ironically enough I was abroad when I realized I was ready to go back to school. Which I thought at the time was *private* art school. Sure enough after returning back to the states thats exactly what I did. I applied and I got in. I moved to San Francisco with about $400 in my account ready for anything and no fear in the world. Once I was admitted, plus granted scholarship, I was on top of the world. I felt more confident in any decision I have ever made, still to this day. Everything felt in tune. Private art school: check. Beautiful, historical studio apartment in Haight Ashbury: check. Best friend/roommates: check. New friends, new opportunities, FUN, FUN, FUN: check. I had a good paying job, I started singing in night clubs, integrated myself in to the arts community, I was painting, I even started recording my first album. But of course, just when you think you have it all, life happens to kick you off your high horse. This for me was a new occurrence. Since my life was so care-free I was honestly used to getting everything I wanted. But then I had to move back to Oregon.
I quit my job, I got kicked out of my apartment, thinking I had I had it all under control I really had to look myself in the eyes and ask myself what was best for me.
I begged my family to support me in going back to give it one more shot, because after all, I got into my ‘dream school’ and I didn’t want to lose that. It felt like it was all that I had.
After a lot of teeth pulling, I moved back to SF and into my school’s housing on a housing scholarship. Free housing in the most expensive city in the U.S?! Wow, everything happens for a reason, right? I started seeing a psychiatrist, per my families request, I started taking medication and pretty much turned into an anti social weirdo, trying to fit myself into this little bubble that I was in before I left the city. I kept singing, I kept going out, I kept trying. Little did I know, my beautiful, private school’s housing was in the fabulous neighborhood of the Tenderloin district. Well, If you aren’t familiar with the cities’ districts, the Tenderloin, a.k.a ‘the heart of the city’, is where the homeless population is the worst it’s ever been, and if you ask me, probably the worst on the West Coast. Walking to school every morning to my glorious $60,000 education was like hiking through shit and heroin needles. It kind of reminded me of a really scary, dark comedy… and to be honest, everyday I sort of felt like I was living in one. But hey, I was studying film in this prestigious environment and granted this made me want to be this bad ass, successful, female film director that the school was pushing for me to be. After all Katherine Bigelow is an alumnus, and after all my professor was a Coppola, but at the end of the day, I was exhausted, I was paying an absurd amount of money, to ultimately, paint. I had no real friends and felt this weird emotional relationship with the city, because it wasn’t the same city that I had fallen in love with when I first moved.
I’m not just here to shit on the institution or San Francisco. I learned so much about fine art, contemporary art, art theory, contemporary practices, etc. I had different career goals everyday! However, the struggle that I was experiencing living in SF after two years did not become worth it. The expenses people are paying to live in a city that is experiencing a technology takeover, made me feel like art wasn’t the answer any more. It was money. The history of the school, the history of that city (which has always been a romance of mine) wasn’t making up for it. Before I started school, making a living as a hostess/waitress in the mission district, I got to experience the city that I needed at that time in my life.
I needed to experience that 2:00 am jazz scene on a Monday night, the nocturnal souls who’s life dedications and passions were for art, culture; humanity.
What I wanted to feel, what I needed to feel. Art school was teaching me that money didn’t matter. Money shouldn’t matter when it comes to making your art. But why did it seem like everything surrounding the city was money, money money. The only reason I could afford to be at that school was because of money, money, money. I had peers living in their cars, peers camping on the campus to boycott the school’s cost , peers experiencing severe addiction problems, severe adolescent breakdowns right in front of my eyes; for their art.
Yet, here they were, sacrificing so much, to be in college? Wait, I thought college was supposed to be the “best” time of your life. After experiencing what I experienced before I started school, it was a very confusing time in my life, and my work suffered greatly from it.
When I was 16 years old, and discovered Instagram, I saw how I could brand my name, and brand my art/ build my audience. At the end of the day, I want to be my own boss. I don’t want to be building someone else’s brand when I can be putting that time towards building my own.
We are all born with a gift and we are all born with dreams. We also, all go through hardships. We can also all overcome them. Who ever knew that pursuing something that brought me more life than anything in the world would be so damn challenging.
Success doesn’t happen over night and because of these occurrences I step into decisions with a lot more caution and thought. I also have overcome huge barriers within my health.
I have learned to talk about my physical and mental health openly and honestly with whomever asks. I believe this is something that needs to happen more from major influencers in our society. Especially, in my generation, regarding mental health awareness.
Being creative can be a curse and a cure. Without my chapter in San Francisco, I wouldn’t have learned some serious life lessons. I wouldn’t have met half of the amazingly, dynamic people that I did. Plus, valuable connections in art, film and music.
Being at art school made me feel less like an artist. My entrepreneurial spirit felt broken and I was stuck in my head. I took the opportunity to move to Florence, Italy and study abroad. This is when things really were put in perspective for me.
Going to another private art school, made me care less about my own business, artists started to freak me out, and I lost my identity within my work. Which is why I transferred to Portland State – where I am able to minor in business and take a more entrepreneurial approach to my work.
Having all eggs in one basket towards your creative endeavors can be a dangerous decision.
Balance is very important as an artist.
I want to remind you, this is just my story and everyones’ is different.
Honesty is key.
Social media can make us look like we’ve ‘made it’ or it can make us look like we haven’t changed. The key aspect to remember is that we are in a generation that is being developed into a society that lives plugged in and ON the grid.
At the end of the day, we are all human, and we can really learn from each other if we are honest.
share what is important.
Share to inspire,
and share to educate.
We are all one and we are all on this journey together.
If you are struggling in your creative journey please reach out to me through my contact column.