Ok, time to barf.
In a minute, I’m gonna talk to you about creativity and being the best artistic version of yourself you can be and blah blah whatever. But first, let’s talk about a gorilla in smart business wear with a hoarding problem.
See, I’ve always been kind of a closet Donkey Kong fan. Donkey Kong Country taught me how to enslave rhinoceroses and turn them against their fellow jungle creatures in a sickening display of bacchanalian power. Donkey Kong 64 is still one of the greatest games on the N64, which I’m aware is kind of like saying “I found some costume jewelry in the dumpster behind a Value Village, and it was way prettier than all the the other garbage” but still. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat gave a struggling mid-2000’s America the bongo peripheral it needed to overcome the housing crisis. I could go on!
But did you know the original Donkey Kong was ported to Atari 7800? I didn’t, so when a friend told me about it, I hurried to YouTube to look it up and found:
Oh. Oh god.
It sounds like something a horse would write if you taped a potato masher to it’s face, parked it in front of a midi controller and started juggling apples. This is the musical equivalent of that split second before you realize the killer is wearing your mailman’s face as a mask.
So why did I do this to you, other than the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto would crawl out of my tv and eat my brain in seven days if I didn’t?
It’s likely that many of you reading this are in a creative line of work, or looking to get into one. Game audio, game dev, glass blowing, whatever! In creative fields, we spend most of our time using our talents for someone else’s vision. We get to put our own spin on it, but in the end, it doesn’t completely belong to us.
This is why I want to encourage you to take the time to make something for yourself.
It’s incredibly important as a creator to step away from hired work every now and then and simply be alone with your talent. No restrictions, no guidelines except the ones you choose to set. Are you a chef who’s got a kickin’ Wasabi Cupcake recipe that no one’s ordering? Fuck it, make a batch at home! Got a neat idea for a manga series about a detective who solves historical crimes via a time-travelling pogo stick, but publishers aren’t buying? Screw the man, draw a few panels anyway!
I myself am working on an 80s-inspired horror album, some YouTube piano covers, and, along with a friend, the music for a Phoenix Wright fan game. I can pretty much guarantee that none of these projects will net me any money, but the important thing is that I’m doing them for me. I get to decide every aspect of how they’re put together. I get to try weird, experimental stuff if I want to. I get to truly get to know myself artistically, and when I go back to my next for-hire project, I’m more in touch than ever with my creative voice and what makes my work unique.
If you don’t occasionally take time to step away from paid gigs and just make art for yourself, your work could end up like that horrifying musical homunculus above. Warped out of shape, out of touch with itself. Barely recognizable for what it is.
Don’t be like Dankey Kang up there. Take some time, even a few minutes a month, and creatively treat yo’ self.
Your turn; what passion projects are you working on currently, something you’re doing for you and you alone? Which ones have you dreamed about, but just haven’t dug into yet? Reply and let’s chat about it!